2014 Audi Q3 1.4 TFSI review
The Q3 1.4 TFSI is a cheaper, cleaner, more frugal front-wheel-drive version of Audi's SUV. Does it make enough sense to be our favourite Q3?...
Until recently, the only petrol engine in Audi's Q3 was a 2.0-litre, which was available only with four-wheel drive. Now, though, there's a cheaper, more frugal entry point to the range - a front-drive 1.4 turbo petrol model.
It has 148bhp, but also returns an impressive 47.9mpg and emits 137g/km in manual form (a seven-speed auto is also available). What's more, because it doesn't attract the same 3% company car tax surcharge as the diesel models, it's actually the cheapest model in the Q3 range for business drivers.
Private buyers should be equally pleased, because in entry-level SE trim this new Q3 starts at less than £24k. This puts it in direct competition with the BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA and Nissan Qashqai.
What’s the 2014 Audi Q3 1.4 TFSI like to drive?
The same 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine - albeit with less power and torque - is our favourite engine in the A3 hatchback. The extra power is welcome, though, because it makes light work of hauling around the Q3's additional 200kg. The engine pulls strongly from low revs, although is equally happy to rev.
Thankfully the extra power has had no ill effects on refinement, which remains superb. You feel barely any vibration through the major controls, and the consistent pedal weights and slick gearshift also help to make the Audi a pleasure to drive.
The Q3 controls its body movements well through corners, and the steering is accurate enough to give the driver confidence. There's plenty of grip, too.
Our test car was an S line model, which gets lower, stiffer suspension that can be swapped for a softer set-up at no extra cost. Experience tells us that the softer suspension (which comes as standard on SE trim) is a better bet, because it helps the Q3 do a even better job of soaking up potholes and staying settled over broken surfaces.
Either way, the Q3 is a fine motorway car; there's very little wind noise when cruising, while road noise isn't too intrusive, either.
What’s the 2014 Audi Q3 1.4 TFSI like inside?
This new petrol model doesn't get any interior revisions, so the Q3's interior remains unchanged.
That means it still benefits from a classy dashboard that has well-damped switchgear, a user-friendly layout and tactile, high-quality materials in almost every area. There is plenty of room for passengers up front, and visibility is better than in a family hatchback, thanks to the raised driving position.
Buyers looking for an SUV that's small enough to park easily will love the Q3, but its compact size does mean there isn't a huge amount of space in the cabin. In the back, for example, there's no more legroom than you'll find in most family hatchbacks; both the BMW X1 and Nissan Qashqai offer far more rear kneeroom.
That's not to say that the Q3 is hopeless as a family car. Two teenagers with be comfortable in the back, even on longer journeys, and taller drivers and front passengers have plenty of room.
Equally, the boot is good enough for the weekly shopping and the seats fold almost flat when required, although the annual holiday will probably require either a roof box or some truly expert packing.
The 1.4 TFSI isn't available in range-topping S line Plus trim, but even entry-level SE models come with a long list of kit, including 17-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth, climate control and parking sensors.
Mid-level S line cars add sporty design touches including 18-inch alloys, front sports seats and xenon headlights.
Should I buy one?
If you're in the market for a classy small SUV and spend most of your time driving short distances, this 1.4 petrol should be near the top of your shortlist. It's attractively priced, particularly for company car drivers, and is very refined.
However, the majority of Q3 buyers buy privately, and we think the better fuel economy and stronger resale values of the 138bhp 2.0 diesel are enough to offset its £1700 higher price. The diesel, therefore, remains our pick of the range.
Even so, the Nissan Qashqai should be the first small SUV you look at. Okay, it doesn't have the same premium image, but its cabin is just as classy, while it's also considerably more practical. It's similarly refined in both petrol and diesel form, too, and will cost you less to buy and run.