Audi Q3 long-term test review

The original Audi Q3 was the firm's best-selling SUV, but this second-generation car faces a much tougher challenge. We've had four months to see if it can worry the class leaders...

Audi Q3 long-term test
  • The car Audi Q3 35 TFSI S line S tronic
  • Run by Darren Moss, deputy editor
  • Why it’s here The original Q3 was Audi's best-selling SUV, but this new model faces a host of tough rivals. Does it still have what it takes to compete?
  • Needs to Be practical for long trips, comfortable on the motorway and economical enough to use for the weekday commute

Mileage 3607 List price £34,185 Target Price £32,938 Price as tested £37,565 Test economy 33.0mpg Official Economy 37.7mpg Extras Electrically adjustable front seats (£675), metallic paint (£575), heated front seats (£300), Parking System Plus (£300), Audi Sound System (£275), Virtual Cockpit (£250), multi-function steering wheel (£250), four-way lumbar support (£255), electric, heated and folding door mirrors (£225), Storage Pack (£210) and ambient interior lighting (£100) Contract hire £454.24 Insurance group 20 Typical insurance quote £595 Dealer price now £28,042 Private price now £28,552 Trade-in price £32,121

18 April 2019 – Saying goodbye to the Audi Q3

I’m a big fan of family SUVs, so when it came to choosing a new car, this second-generation Audi Q3 was close to the top of my list. I look for a tall driving position, I prefer an automatic gearbox given the clogged nature of my weekday commute, and I love a high-tech infotainment system. Here was a car which in theory, then, should fit into my life as well as a cup of coffee.

In practice, life with the Q3 has been fairly rosy. It’s proven exceptionally comfortable over long distances, through motorway journeys to visit friends and family in Northamptonshire and back again – sometimes in a single day. It’s also been practical, swallowing furniture, am-dram costumes and people with ease. On those rare occasions when all five seats have been filled, nobody has had any complaints about space, while the deep front door pockets and under-armrest storage mean that the odds and ends which typically accompany a Moss journey (read: water bottle, phone, phone charger, headphones, mints, wallet, house keys) all find a home.

Audi Q3 on dystopian city background

The driving position is especially worthy of praise, because as well as a comfortable and supportive seat and pedals which are well aligned, the Q3 also comes with a height-adjustable armrest, which means you can find the perfect place to rest your elbows no matter your size or shape. It’s a great feature, and one which even our class-leading Volvo XC40 doesn’t have.

And then there’s the tech, which pleased my inner geek immensely. In fact, the Q3's infotainment setup was graphically impressive, loaded with features and highly adaptable. My perfect setup was to have Apple CarPlay running on the car’s central screen, and the 12.3in Virtual Cockpit display given over to the glorious sat-nav map. It all proved to be slick and futuristic, but I’d still prefer to have a rotary controller rather than a touchscreen, because prodding a screen on the motorway is an imprecise art at best. That said, nifty features such as offering to search for a parking space when you near your destination, and using Google to search for a place rather than typing in its full address put me in mind of navigating the city of the future.

There were downsides, though, and the main sticking point here was the Q3's automatic gearbox. The 1.5-litre petrol engine was fine for driving around town, but getting up to speed on faster roads or overtaking on the motorway often forced the slow-witted gearbox to go hunting for a lower gear, which could make for jerky progress. In getting away from traffic lights or junctions, too, I would often find that the Q3 lurched forwards before settling down into a cruise, rather than smoothly building up speed. If you’re thinking of buying a Q3, I would definitely size up the slicker six-speed manual gearbox before putting your money down.

My fuel economy, which seemed so woeful in my early days with the Q3, did improve, but not to the level of the 37.7mpg this car achieved on the new, strict WLTP fuel tests.

Audi Q3 interior

Parts of the Q3’s interior weren’t up to scratch, either, and that’s something we’re not used to saying about Audis. You see, the kind of piano black plastic which covers vast areas of my Q3’s dashboard looks fantastic in the showroom, where it’s cleaned every hour, but after a few weeks in my care it was coated with a fine film of fingerprints and dust which I was forever wiping clean. And while the sporty styling of S line trim made my car look the proverbial business, I reckon most buyers will be better off choosing the significantly cheaper Sport trim instead.

All things considered, though, I’m still a big fan of the Audi Q3. It’s more spacious than most rivals, including the Jaguar E-Pace and BMW X1, it’s tremendously comfortable and I’m even sold on that industrial-sized grille. Pick your gearbox carefully, and I’d suggest you won’t go far wrong with one.

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