What is it? This is the third and smallest car in Audi's Q series of SUVs, competing with the BMW X1 and the new Range Rover Evoque. It sits quite high and, with four-wheel drive for the top three engines, is capable of limited off-road driving. However, on-road use is its major role.
Engines all 2.0 litres and turbocharged start with a 138bhp TDI turbodiesel matched to front-wheel drive, continue with a 174bhp TDI and a 167bhp TFSI petrol, and peak with a 208bhp TFSI unit. The two most powerful come with a seven-speed, semi-auto S-tronic transmission, the other two with a six-speed manual gearbox.
What's it like to drive? Impressive. Our test cars, the 174 bhp TDI and 208bhp TFSI, are smooth and quiet, with punchy performance right through the rev range. The diesel feels gutsier more of the time, while the petrol is ultimately faster (143mph, 0-62mph in 6.9 seconds).
Their S-tronic gearboxes shift speedily, but sometimes there's a clunk from the transmission; manual mode is smoother than auto.
Optional Drive Select alters the suspension settings, but the differences between the settings are small. Both Q3s rode well (the optional S line suspension will be firmer), but the petrol has the edge. The electric power steering feels more natural than most such systems and the Q3 has plenty of traction when you're pressing on. This is a wieldy, enjoyable car to drive.
Drive Select includes an 'Efficiency' mode, which lets an S-tronic Q3 freewheel when you decelerate, saving fuel. This, plus engine stop-start, reduces CO2 output, but the figures are unexceptional: 156g/km for the diesel and 179g/km for the petrol. The front-drive disel emits 138g/km.
What's it like inside? Audi at its best, with impeccable finish including soft-touch surfaces right down to the bottom of the door trims and dashboard. The style is A8 in miniature, and options include Google Earth and built-in wi-fi.
Parking aids can include a screen showing all-round sensing and a self-parking system. There's virtually as much space as in a Q5, plus a large boot, but the loadbay isn't quite flat when the rear seats are folded down.
Should I buy one? You probably should. It's a more complete and appealing car than a BMW X1, thoroughly pleasing to drive and calls into question the need for a larger Q5. There's also a 305bhp Q3 on the way, with a version of the TT RS's five-cylinder engine, but it's not yet confirmed for the UK.
What Car? says
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