Right on Q... the Audi with Range Rover in its sights
Keith Ward IN the Audi range the Q3 sits in size below the Q5 and Q7 as a high-riding, compact SUV version of the A3, leaning heavily on its sibling companies in the VW group. So it sports the same mechanicals as the VW Tiguan and is built at Seat’s Martorell plant in Spain.
The Q3 challenges what has become the runaway success in this sector, the Range Rover Evoque, likewise offered in two or four-wheel-drive. In fivedoor guise, the Evoque is 20mm shorter than the Q3 but 134mm wider.
Where the Q3 scores is in the transverse mounting of its engines which, within its modest footprint, leaves more space for people and packages. The boot of a minimum 460 litres is decently long, if fairly shallow. The rear seatbacks drop forward into a sloping, extended floor. Rear legroom is generous for this class. But some school-run mums may find the high-opening tailgate a reach too far, even to its lower, recessed handle.
At prices nominally between £26,200 and £31,715, there’s a choice of front-drive or, at just £1,170 extra, quattro four-wheel-drive, coupled to manual or automatic transmission, depending upon version, and four engines – 170 PS or 211 PS petrol and diesels of 177 PS or the “economy” 140 PS in our hands.
Performance from the 2.0 TDI diesel is not what you would call dashing, and there’s a harsh note when pushed, but it gives pleasure at the pumps. Even with permanent 4WD it was returning near 50mpg overall, as indicated by its trip computer, and on some long journeys 56-plus, so unusually near-matching or even exceeding its official combined rating.
Early on, the pushrelease fuel filler flap jammed shut (another fiendish aid to fuel saving?) During my hour’s wait in a pottedpalmed Audi dealership, where I could have been awash with the cups of coffee repeatedly offered, it was reported by my personal service receptionist as a failed “actuator” and duly fixed.
Of two trim levels, the lower SE tested here brings as standard 17in alloys, dual zone climate control, “concert” audio with 6.5in colour display screen, Bluetooth interface, roof rails, rear parking sensors and automatic lights and wipers.
An upgrade to S-line would add 18in alloys, styling bits and xenon headlamps with those distinctive daytime running lights and LED tail lamps. Such goodies as self-parking as well as navigation with 3D mapping and Google Earth connection come extra again. Our SE was hung with a host of extracost options, notably heated and leather-clad seats (£1,510), upgraded – albeit dial-up rather than touch-screen – navigation (£1,495) and those Xenon lights (£1,150). So a listed price of under £26,000 jumped to nearly £34,000.
On road the quattro felt typically sure-footed, swooping around North Wales and the Pennines, in dry or wet.
This Q, to continue the James Bond analogy, is not for being shaken or stirred.
MOVING EXPERIENCE: The Audi Q3 Quattro feels typically surefooted in the dry or wet.