We thought it was a good time to look at the petrol options offered by Audi on their smallest SUV writes Hannah Gordon
What is it? A new facelift version of the popular Q3 has hit the showrooms and is now offered with a 1.4 litre turbo petrol. Subtle changes to the lights, bumpers and grille give it a fresher look too.
Who is it aimed at? The Q3 is the smallest of Audi’s SUV range but still offers a bit more space than a conventional hatchback. The higher ride height and smooth drive make this a perfect accompaniment to any families driveway.
What about the Styling?The revised grille with chrome strips adds a well needed bit of drama to the cars styling, there are also newly designed LED lights and these understated changes are a welcomed addition to a car that doesn’t really get you that excited visually like some of the other cars in the Audi range. If you are looking for something that looks a bit sportier and don’t mind paying a little bit extra then the S Line is the spec for you.
Under the bonnet? The test car came with the new 1.4 litre turbo petrol TFSI engine, this new engine also came with ‘Cylinder on Demand’ technology that only works two cylinders when the engine isn’t under load/acceleration. You can hardly feel it when it closes cylinders down, it can be likened to a smooth gear change. The 1.4 litre is gutsy, although in efficiency mode it can be slow to accelerate and in dynamic mode its noisy and thrashy. Also available in the Q3 range is a 2.0 litre petrol and diesel, with the latter probably being the more popular choice. The test car came with the S-Tronic gearbox which is extremely smooth and can be used in a manual mode with paddle shift. The 1.4 TFSI only comes in front wheel drive though.
What about inside? The Audi Q3 retains the same German design interior that is seen across the Audi and VW range. And if I’m completely honest the Q3 interior looks fairly dated, there is nothing to excite the senses. It feels like a well put together dash but the abundance of black plastic and the ‘clicky’ nature of the temperature setting dials didn’t match the quality of the rest of the car. The 6.5 inch infotainment screen was easy to use but again felt a little dated compared to other manufacturers touch screens. The seats were comfy and storage space was good in both the door pockets and glove box.
On the road? The suspension on the Q3 is extremely smooth and the ride quality is second to none, to keep this you wouldn’t want to be adding larger wheels to your options list. The steering doesn’t feel as direct as it should on occasions but its nothing that would ruin your driving experience. The small 1.4 TFSI engine pulls nicely without setting any records for acceleration and cruises on the motorway seamlessly. In Dynamic mode and with the gearbox in Sport mode it can become disjointed and jolty around town. I kept the S-Tronic gearbox in drive mode which seemed to pair better with the engine capabilities.
And Safety? The Audi Q3 scored top marks of 5 stars in the Euro NCap safer test, the added safety of 6 airbags and ESP as standard ensures that the Q3 is one of the safest SUV’s on the market. There are plenty of options available to improve safety such as Blind Spot Monitoring and Active Lane Assist.
What are my Options? This where you have to be really careful, the options list is extensive as the Q3 doesn’t have as much equipment as standard as other competitors. Hill Hold assist (£90), cruise control (£225) and Satellite Navigation (£495) are options that I would consider. The Power Operated tailgate at £385 is a nicety and if you fancy a Nappa leather interior it is an extra £1450.
Will it break the bank? Claimed figures for the Audi Q3 1.4 TFSI are a combined 47.9mpg, this certainly on paper seems an economical alternative to the diesel variants. During my week with the car I struggled to even get above 40 mpg and that was in the efficiency setting and doing motorway miles. The CO2 output is 136 g/km which put it in tax band E and a yearly tax of £130. Being a petrol car the company tax should be lower which would benefit people looking for a suitable company car.
So what’s the Verdict? With an Audi you know what you are getting, firstly there is the quality, the drivability and superb way it feels on the road. The Audi Q3 is a great SUV, the 1.4 TFSI is a great engine but doesn’t feel right in a large vehicle and struggles to make you fall in love with it. The economy is definitely not up to what Audi says, and I still think the diesel option will prove more popular unless you aim to do a lot of town driving, then the petrol would be a better choice. The cabin needs a good shake up and its a shame Audi didn’t facelift that too. The competition gets stronger everyday in the small SUV market and Audi need to stay competitive. The Q3 would be a great family car, but be extremely careful when coming to the options list as the price could rapidly spiral out of control into Range Rover Evoque territory.
Why you’ll buy one? Driving Dynamics, Premium Quality
Why you won’t? Dull Interior; Pricey
Lexus NX – prices start from £29,495
Range Rover Evoque – prices start from £30,200
Audi Q3 S-Line 1.4 TFSI cylinder on demand
Max speed: 126 mph
0-62 mph: 8.9 seconds
Emissions: 136 g/km
Model price range: from £24,695
No of Doors: 5
Euro NCAP : 5
Fuel type: Petrol
Fuel Economy (combined cycle): 47.9 mpg
Boot Capacity Seats up: 460 litres
Length: 4388 mm
Width: 2019 mm
Height: 1608 mm
Wheelbase: 2603 mm
28th September, 2015