Audi generally plays it safe when it comes to the design of its mainstream models. It means that while they’re not the most exciting things to look at, they’re unlikely to offend anyone. It’s a tactic that’s paid off because the Q3 has sold like hot cakes.
The Mk1 Q3 - made until 2018 - has a face that’s dominated by Audi’s family grille and narrow headlights. Every version gets alloy wheels, while there’s cladding over the wheel arches and chrome highlights around the windows. The sporty RS Q3 ups the interest with a more aggressive body kit.
The Mk2 Q3 - from 2018 - looks a bit more exciting thanks to its more angular headlights, grille and air intakes, which help it to compete visually with rivals such as the BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA.
The Q3 has sold like hot cakes.
What’s it like to drive?
The Audi Q3 is not as fun to drive as the BMW X1. It’s still accomplished, though, with the emphasis more on comfort than sportiness. That said, S line models get stiffer sports suspension and have less body roll when you’re negotiating a roundabout. They don’t tend to deal with potholes as well as regular Q3s.
Most models drive the front wheels, although Quattro versions are 4-wheel drive, which improves traction in poor weather. The steering is fairly light, which makes life easier when you’re parking.
All of the petrol and diesel engines are powerful enough, and the 2.5 turbo petrol in the RS Q3 will get you from 0-62mph in as little as 4.8 seconds.
The emphasis is more on comfort than sportiness.
Audis have long been famed for having quality interiors - and the Q3 is no exception. Like the exterior, the Q3 made up to 2018 is a little short on flair inside. Everything is well put together and there’s masses of quality plastics, metal and leather on everything. The top of the dashboard is dominated by a pop-up entertainment screen that folds away neatly when not in use. It’s controlled by buttons and a dial below the air vents that sit above the ventilation switches. The driver’s instruments are analogue dials.
The Mk2 Q3 replaced those dials with a digital screen, called a Virtual Cockpit so you can pretend to be Maverick. The entertainment screen is a fixed affair in the middle of the dash, and is controlled by a dial between the front seats. As with the Mk1 Q3, it’s all very nicely assembled and features plenty of premium materials.
There’s lots of leg and headroom in the front seats and it’s easy to get comfortable in the driver’s seat, especially on examples with electric seat adjustment. This is a compact crossover, remember, so taller adults may find leg and headroom a little tight in the Mk1’s rear seats – there’s certainly a little more on offer in the BMW X1 and Volkswagen Tiguan. The Mk2 Q3 offers more rear space, thanks to sliding rear seats.
All Q3s get climate control, a digital radio, Bluetooth, USB socket, sat-nav, cruise control and auto lights and wipers as standard. You’ll also be impressed with the audio system – on higher trims it’s an upgraded Bose unit.
Front-seat occupants have enough cubby space to store odds and ends in the door bins, glovebox and centre console, and there are nets in the back of the front seats for those sitting in the back, along with smaller door bins. The view out for everyone is pretty good. The driver gets rear parking sensors as standard, and some cars have an optional reversing camera.
The boot is a good shape and size with the rear seats in use – enough for a few medium-sized suitcases – and it’s pretty cavernous with the seat backs folded. There’s not much of a lip at the boot entrance, either, so heavy loads can be slid in and out with ease.
Running costs and reliability
The smallest petrol engine is the 1.4 TFSI, with an official average economy figure of up to 51.4mpg (recorded using the old-style NEDC regulations). Expect it to be close to high-30s in the real world. The Mk2 Q3 uses a 1.5-litre petrol unit with similar economy. The powerful 2.5 engine in the RS Q3 is a thirsty beast, at around 20mpg in the real-world.
The 2.0-litre diesel engine (of varying power outputs) will return up to 55.4mpg using the newer, more accurate, WLTP way of measuring economy.
What cinch loves
We love the Audi Q3’s quality interior. If you’ve owned an Audi before you’ll know just how good the dashboard feels, and all of the controls feel like they’ll stand the test of time. The Q3 is very well equipped, too, even with base SE (or, on Mk2 Q3s, Sport) trim.
Some versions of the Q3 have more safety kit than others. It was still given the maximum five stars by crash safety experts Euro NCAP. There are Isofix mounting points on the tow outer rear seats and the front seat, helping to boost its appeal for young families.