Audi Q3 2.0 TDi SE Quattro – Review
By Liam Bird
Usually, when you’re given the keys to a new SUV you start digging out the OS maps and looking for – how shall I put this – uncharted territory. Green lanes, gravel roads and rivers that need to be forded are all fair game. Surely that’s the point of an SUV isn’t it? Funny then, that when Audi delivered their new Q3 to me a few days ago thoughts of getting off the beaten track weren’t the first that crossed my mind.
On first appearance the Q3 looks a little like Audi’s A1 on steroids as all of the familiar Audi styling signatures are present. The same deep grille separates the headlamps, the rounded bonnet and wrap-around boot-lid are present too, and details such as the discreet front fog-lamps, rear spoiler and chrome roof rails all add up to give the Q3 a classy and somewhat understated stylishness.
There’s solidity in its design, but even if it does stand taller, somehow it lacks the square-jawed muscular presence you usually associate with SUVs.
Inside too it’s a similar story. Pull open the door and Audi’s bullet-proof feeling build quality continues. Fit and finish are impeccable. Dashboard mouldings are soft, the loftier driving position is pretty near perfect and the backlit dials are a lesson to all in clarity and legibility. Surely Audi has to be the best mass market car interior maker on the market today?
Apart from a rear bench seat that caused a few comments from the back for being too upright and the click-type air-con switches that lack Audi’s usual precisely damped feel there’s little to complain about. Bluetooth, parking sensors and start-stop are standard, though you’ll have to stump up an extra £1,250 for leather seats and a further £1,495 if you want the MMI sat-nav as fitted here. But overall it feels a bit too plush looking to get covered in mud.
Once aboard, you’ll notice the Q3 lacks any kind of extra knobs or buttons to select any kind of off-road driving mode. Even the Audi Drive Select system that allows you to choose between economy, comfort, and dynamic driving modes is optional. More often than not though, even if it is fitted, like me you’ll choose to leave it in its automatic setting and just get in and drive.
On the road the Q3 is actually quite entertaining. There is a familiar Germanic firmness to the ride. Despite its extra height it resists the urge to roll around. The steering lacks a little feel but it makes up for it by being direct and light in town. Plus, because you sit slightly higher there’s a better view of what’s happening in front of you, meaning it’s easy to thread the Q3 through traffic. Once out in the open the 2-litre 138bhp diesel engine provides enough punch to pass slower traffic and although not fast, the Q3’s 8.2 second 0-60 time means progress is brisk enough and unusually quiet too.
“Suited to Suburbia”
But what about going off-road? The truth is that’s not really what the Q3 is for. Audi even say so themselves if you delve deep enough into the handbook. I quote: “This Audi model is not an off-road vehicle. When driving off road you are advised to avoid tracks or terrains which are not suited to design of the car.”
The Q3 does, however, come with enough ground clearance to wade through 170mm of water. Its Quattro system means it’s enough of a 4×4 to get you off your driveway come winter time. The optional folding tow-bar fitted to the test car was a nice touch too. But, ultimately, Audi’s Q3 is more suited to Suburbia than it is to The Serengeti. Like nearly everyone else who chooses to drive Audi’s new SUV I didn’t need the OS maps. I headed straight for the urban jungle instead.
Audi Q3 2.0 TDi SE Quattro
Engine: 1968cc 16V 4Cyl Turbo Diesel
Transmission: 6 speed Manual, Quattro system four wheel drive
Power: 138bhp @4200rpm
Torque: 280lb ft @1750-2500rpm
0-62MPH: 8.2 Sec
Max Speed: 132mph
MPG: 47.9 Combined
Price: From £26,510 (Car driven £34,495)