Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
The range kicks off with a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol (badged 35 TFSI) and this is all the engine most Q3 buyers will want or need. It has enough oomph at low revs to avoid you needing to work it hard, but when you are in a hurry it can haul the Q3 from 0-62mph in 9.6sec (9.4sec if you've gone for the optional S tronic automatic gearbox).
Want more power? The 187bhp 40 TFSI and 227bhp 45 TFSI offer just that, with the latter capable of hitting 62mph from a standstill in 6.3sec. However, since both are available exclusively with quattro four-wheel drive and the S tronic gearbox we just mentioned, they're very expensive (more on that later).
If you're after a diesel you'll be choosing between the 148bhp 35 TDI and the 187bhp 40 TDI. The former offers similar outright performance to the 35 TFSI petrol (plenty, in other words) but with some useful extra pull at low revs, while the 40 TDI is effortlessly brisk and can do 0-62mph in 8.0sec.
Suspension and ride comfort
Although there are three distinct suspension setups available on the Q3, which one you get is purely down to the trim level you choose.
Entry-level Sport trim models ride on 'standard' suspension, which does a pretty good job of ironing out the lumps, bumps and potholes you find on a typical UK journeys. The Range Rover Evoque and Volvo XC40 are slightly softer but, for overall comfort, there isn't a lot in it.
Go for S line or Edition 1 trim and you'll get sports suspension, which is stiffer and designed to keep the Q3 more upright through corners (more on that in the next section). It doesn't do ride comfort any favours, but you won't exactly be shaken to pieces. The adaptive setup (you can stiffen and soften the suspension to suit your preferences) offers the most comfortable ride, but is available exclusively on pricey Vorsprung trim.
The Q3 conceals its tall stature better than most family SUVs through the corners. Body lean is well controlled, even in entry-level Sport models, although more so in sport-suspension-equipped S line and Edition 1 versions.
There’s also lots of grip spread evenly between the front and rear axles to give you confidence when cornering. All in all, the Q3 is a lot more agile than the Evoque and XC40, if not quite as darty as the BMW X1.
All Q3s have 'progressive' steering, which gets faster the more you turn the wheel. This happens gradually, so placing the car accurately on the road is easy and it makes for less arm twirling in tight, low-speed turns.
Noise and vibration
The entry-level 35 TFSI petrol sounds a little coarse but not unduly so; the more powerful 40 TFSI and 45 TFSI engines are noticeably smoother. The diesel engines are, unsurprisingly, noisier than any of the petrols, but are still pretty subdued compared with equivalents in the likes of the BMW X1 and Volvo XC40.
Most engines come with a seven-speed automatic (S tronic) gearbox as standard and it's smooth when changing up through the gears. It can be a little jerky at very low speeds, though. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard on the 35 TFSI and 35 TDI and has reasonably slick shift action.
Road noise is well suppressed as long as you avoid 20in wheels (these come as standard on Edition 1 and Vorsprung trims) and wind noise is limited to minor buffeting around the door mirrors. However, the Evoque provides a still calmer travelling environment at motorway speeds.
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