WE SAY: ALL IS NEW ON THE Q3 – GREAT NEWS, EXCEPT FOR THE ENGINES
Often, an all-new Audi is such a dead-ringer for the old, it barely impinges on your consciousness. This is not one of those times. The second-gen Q3 is bigger, better-proportioned, and a lot roomier than before. It had to open up a gap from the Q2, which arrived late in the old Q3’s life, rendering it borderline redundant.
Can’t miss the new look. A chunky grille frame, another variation of Audi’s scary-goth LED eye make-up, and metalwork fashioned into sharp creases, amped up by a dose of Ur-Quattro over the arches.
Inside it’s all screens now. Not even the base version has hardware dials. Gone too is Audi’s centre-console control wheel; it’s all done by touchscreen. A pity: except on perfect tarmac, it’s hard to hit tiny screen icons with a bouncing finger, however beautifully rendered they are. At least the climate control retains actual knobs.
It’s great for families: a big boot and sliding, reclining rear seats. All versions present lots of standard kit: connected nav, LED headlamps, blind-spot warning and lane keeping. But some of the cabin plastics are off Audi’s usual form.
The 150bhp petrol, with cylinder shutoff, is a nice engine elsewhere, but here it struggles. It’s laggy below 3,000rpm and gritty-sounding above. The new 7spd DCT doesn’t help, failing to change smoothly. Are the calibration engineers overwhelmed by WLTP and the petrol particulate filter? The 190bhp 2.0-litre petrol is similarly out of sorts. Meanwhile the manual 2.0-litre TDI is quite a nice example of the genre. The Q3’s chassis migrates at last to the MQB platform – identical, in fact, to the VW Tiguan’s. But it feels much more nimble than that, on account of different set-up: springs, dampers, bushes. Also, you sit 4cm lower in the Audi.
The front-drive Q3 rolls little and corners with a nice accuracy and sense of willing. It melds this with a ride that, though taut, isn’t harsh or crashy. What it does not do is interact; no rebalancing on the throttle, no steering feel. More fun can be had in the 2.0 quattro, with more power to stress the tyres.