When it was launched the Q3 pretty much defined the premium-level compact SUV, catching German rival Mercedes on the hop and making BMW’s initial effort with the X1 looking a bit sad.

As the current model nears the end of its life, it’s got one last update to battle BMW’s now rather more sensible second-generation X1 and Mercedes’ recent arrival, the GLA.

The Q3 range opens with a front wheel drive 1.4-litre petrol turbo weighing in at $42,300, topping out at $56,900 for the 2.0 TDI Sport quattro (not counting the delightfully bonkers RSQ3).

Our steed for the week was the mid-range 2.0-litre turbo-petrol Sport. Your $52,300 buys you an eight-speaker stereo with Bluetooth, dual-zone climate control, reversing camera with sensors front and rear, cruise control, selectable driving mode, bi-xenon headlights, keyless entry and start, leather trim, power windows and mirrors, auto wipers, roof rails and sports seats.

Our car also had metallic paint ($1150), Assistance package ($2490) which includes side assist, lane departure warning, hill hold and hill descent control and some mirror cleverness such as auto-dimming and dipping for parking.
The Comfort package (also $2490) adds power adjustment and heating to the front seats and power to the tailgate.
The Technik package added up-spec navigation to the MMI system and and upgraded sound package.

Finally, a five-spoke alloy wheel upgrade for $500 brought our test car’s price to $61,920.


The very familiar Q3 has had little done for its final incarnation. There are new headlights and taillights and some tweaking of bumpers and chrome work. That’s about it, because the Q3 has always being a fairly bling-free design, free of the chintz and heavy bearing of the superseded Q7.

The Q3 has a lot of straight lines and is a very mature, restrained design with obvious Audi elements – strong shoulders, big grille and distinctive daytime running lights.

Inside is where the Q3 is starting to age slightly. The instruments are still clear and sensible but the folding screen in the centre of the dash for the MMI system looks a bit dinky and the clicky rotary climate control switches seem quite old.
That aside, it’s standard pre-2013 Audi which means good materials and clean design. Obviously without any major structural work, it remains a roomy cabin but the driving position is a bit odd – upright and with a cramped driver’s footwell where you end up a bit legs-akimbo if you like being reasonably close to the steering wheel.

There’s a decent level of storage around a cabin that will seat four adults comfortably and five slightly squeezily.


Six airbags, ABS, brake assist, traction and stability controls add up to five ANCAP stars.

An early version of Audi’s MMI remains in the Q3, displayed on the folding screen on the dash. It’s beginning to look a bit old and small, with jagged resolution on the screen (compared to newer offerings) and that infuriating remnant of proprietary connection for smartphones.

The upgraded sound system is a worthwhile addition and the MMI system on the lower dash is easy to use with its rotary dial and shortcut buttons, although the context buttons that map to the relative position on the screen are still a bit weird to use.

The 2.0 TFSI found under the bonnet produces 132 kW and 320Nm, both handy figures. Mated to the VW Group’s seven-speed twin-clutch, the Q3 will reach 100 km/h from rest in 7.9 seconds and use a claimed 6.7 litres per 100km on the combined cycle.

We got just over 8 L/100km in almost exclusively city driving.

The Q3 is a wonderfully competent car for its height and size. It’s always been something of a favourite because it has a lightness of touch missing in the GLA and felt more nimble than the outgoing X1.

The seven-speed dual-clutch auto behaves well for most of the time but isn’t a huge fan of hill starts, sometimes rolling backwards more than you might like. This is easily fixed by engaging the auto park brake, but that too has its quirks.

The steering in the Q3 is light and has a direct enough rack to ensure you’re not twirling your arms like a lunatic when parking. Some compact SUVs like a lazy, off-road steering feel, but Audi has correctly surmised that this isn’t any good for Q3 buyers.

The ride is firm but well-controlled and particularly good over flat-topped speed bumps so beloved of Sydney councils (by that we mean you can hit them hard and not feel it).

Performance from the turbo petrol is perky and when the transmission is awake, revs cleanly and quickly through the gears without very little sound intruding into the cabin. Overall refinement is good although you might hear a little rustle from the mirrors and tyre noise at speed.

Despite being the old-timer in its class (there’s even an Infiniti to contend with now), the Q3 feels reasonably fresh and still competitive in most areas.

The final refresh does begin a countdown to the new Q3, but there’s plenty of life left in this one.

LIKES: Classy looks, great engine, good interior packaging…
DISLIKES: Weird driving position, some controls a bit dated, imperfect transmission.

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