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 got four months to see if it can worry the class leaders...

Audi Q3 front side
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Darren Moss
31 Jan 2019 11:00
  • 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 1102 List price £34,150 Target Price £33,485 Price as tested £37,565 Test economy 33.5mpg Official Economy 38.2mpg 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 £417.94 Insurance Group 20 Typical insurance quote £595

31 January 2019 – The Audi Q3 joins our fleet

Of the many SUV models that Audi sells in the UK, which one do you suppose is the best-seller? The luxurious but expensive Q7, perhaps, or the small and funky Q2? Well, the answer up until the start of 2018 was the car you see here, the family-sized Q3. In fact, despite it having to vie for your affections alongside rivals including the BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA and Volvo XC40, more than 13,000 Q3s were sold in the UK in 2018.

This new, second-generation Q3 has a lot to live up to, then – but it doesn’t need to worry about grabbing your attention. In the short time I’ve been driving it, with its slim LED headlights, aggressive air vents and vast front grille, I’ve received more nods of approval from other drivers than in any other long-term test car I’ve run. At least, I think they were approving nods.

My car is powered by what’s expected to be the best-selling engine, and in a sign of the times, that’s not a diesel – in fact, it’s our recommended 148bhp 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol, which should be perfectly suited to my regular journeys, of which 90% are conducted on city streets. To go with it, I’ve gone for a seven-speed automatic gearbox rather than the standard six-speed manual.

Our recommendation is to stick with Sport trim, but I’ve treated myself to high-end S line specification, which is positively overflowing with kit. Here are just a few highlights: 19in alloy wheels, sports suspension, part-leather seats, multi-coloured ambient lighting and a subtle bodykit. 

You might think there wouldn’t be much room left for extras, but even a passing glance at Audi’s options list will have you ticking boxes. I think I’ve been relatively modest, opting for parking sensors, metallic paint, an upgraded stereo, adjustable lumbar support, heated front seats for those cold mornings and more oddment storage inside. Okay, so maybe 'modest' isn’t the right word – and I'll delve into whether all of those options are truly useful in future reports.

Audi Q3 front

Either way, this should be a very easy car to live with, and first impressions are mostly impressive. I say 'mostly' because while the interior appointments are on par with what we expect from Audi these days (high-quality materials and an infotainment system that’s both graphically impressive and easy to use), the engine is taking some getting used to.

In particular, the fuel economy has so far been disappointing; I’m averaging just 33.5mpg despite putting in some serious motorway miles over the recent festive period. It’s a fair way from the 38.0mpg that this car achieved under the new, stricter WLTP emissions test.

Another minor irritation is the gearbox's hesitation when you’re pulling away from traffic – something that makes navigating busy junctions and roundabouts precarious in London. It's also too quick to shift down when you prod the accelerator on the motorway, which might also partly explain the fuel tank’s drain.

These are minor niggles, however, because Audi created with a winning formula with the first-generation Q3 and this new model is every bit as practical. Certainly, a full load of Christmas luggage proved no trouble for the Q3’s boot, and handy features such as the facility to store the parcel shelf beneath the height-adjustable boot floor have been a boon.

I’ve also found the Q3 to be a very capable city centre companion, with the fantastic MMI infotainment system's sat-nav successfully re-routing me to avoid some of London’s worst traffic. A particularly handy feature is the parking notification, where the system offers to look for nearby parking options when you’re near the end of your journey. Quick steering also means that once I’ve found a free spot, getting into it is an easy affair.

So far so good, then, but how will the Q3 fair over four months of use? And will it prove to be every bit as practical and recommendable as its big-selling forebear? Keep checking back for the answer.

Next: our full Audi Q3 review >

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