2012 Audi Q3 2.0 TDI 140 review

* Front-wheel drive Audi Q3 SUV * CO2 137g/km; 54.3mpg * Priced from 24,560; on-sale now...

2012 Audi Q3 2.0 TDI 140 review

The Audi Q3 is the manufacturers third SUV in recent years, and is much smaller than either the Q5 or Q7.

Its a key rival for both the BMW X1 and Range Rover Evoque not only in size, but also desirability.

The 2.0 TDI 140 is the only front-wheel-drive Q3, so is easily the cheapest model in the range to run. CO2 emissions of 137g/km and are much better than the four-wheel-drive 2.0 TDI 177s 156g/km and its fuel economy is better, too: 54.3mpg compared with 47.9mpg. Looking at the 2012-13 company car tax bands that come into force next month, the 2.0 TDI 140 is at 21%, while the 177 at 25%.

At 24,560 the 2.0 TDI 140 SE is also the cheapest Q3 to buy, while the S line model costs 27,310.

Whats the Q3 like to drive?
'Comfortable' is the word that springs to mind. The ride is just right if you spend a lot of time on the motorway: its not too harsh and soaks up most bumps brilliantly. The lightweight steering makes parking easy, too.

The 138bhp 2.0-litre diesel unit is smooth and relaxed when cruising at the motorway limit, and is more than punchy enough to get the Q3 up to speed swiftly its easily our choice of the engines available in the range. True, its is a bit rumbly when idling, but the slick stop-start system will give you few opportunities to hear it.

If you fancy a bit of on-road fun, though, youll be disappointed. The soft ride means the Q3 wallows slightly in corners, and the lifeless steering is so light that you feel remote from the action.

Whats the Q3 like inside?
All the Q3s cabin plastics are of a decent quality, while the switchgear is also comfortingly weighty and precise.

The cars size is both its best and worst selling point. The compact dimensions make it great for town use, but there isnt any more room inside than in your average family hatchback: the 460-litre boot is smaller than the Ford Mondeos, for example. It is well shaped, though.

Passengers will have fewer complaints. Front or rear, most will have enough head- and legroom, while theres plenty of seat and steering wheel adjustment for the driver.

Should I buy a Q3?
Theres very little wrong with the Q3. It looks the part and has the desirable image that most will want. The 138bhp 2.0-litre diesel is also perfectly suited to the Q3, and offers the lowest running costs in the range.

That said, it isnt that fun to drive and some rivals looks might appeal more to style-led buyers.

However, we think most will use the Q3 either on the school run or for plodding up and down motorways and few compact SUVs are better for the job.

Range Rover Evoque

What Car? says

Rosie McMahon