Audi and its two prestigious German rivals are locked in serious sales combat in the midsize SUV crossover market. Audi’s Q3 recently received a midlife makeover to increase its fitness for the fight.
Though normally used only on sealed roads, the Q3 has reasonable ground clearance that enables it to handle mild off-road driving conditions. Part of this revamp is the use of electronic stabilisation control that can be set up in two stages. The ESC off-road mode adjusts ABS and the electronic differential lock.
Audi Q3 maintains the almost coupe profile that has come to characterise many modern crossover SUVs. If you’re looking for a big load-lugging station wagon you should probably shop elsewhere.
The single-frame radiator grille and wraparound tailgate follow the very successful theme Audi has been using in its range for some time.
This facelift sees redesigned headlights that are now xenon plus for added illumination, if that’s not enough you can select optional LED headlamps. These work in combination with dynamic turn signals, also integrated into the restyled LED taillights.
Over the years Audi has become famed for its high quality interiors and the Q3 is a premium product that’s a real pleasure to travel in.
ENGINE / TRANSMISSION
Our test car was fitted with the 2.0-litre TFSI turbo-petrol engine producing 132 kW of power and 320 Nm of torque. It can run from rest to 100 km/h in 7.6 seconds.
The 1.4-litre TFSI engine in the Q3 entry-level model now uses Audi’s Cylinder on Demand (CoD) technology to reduce fuel use and emissions. With two of the four cylinders shutdown under light throttle loads, Audi tells us fuel saving is up to 20 percent.
The 2.0-litre110 kW turbo-diesel is the entry-level quattro model in the new Q3 range, with 340 Nm of torque generated from 1750 to 2800rpm. There’s also a 2.0-litre that produces 135 kW and 380 Nm.
The Q3 1.4 TFSI has a six-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission and drives the front wheels. Other Audi Q3 models have the benefit of seven-speed S tronic and Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system.
At the top of the infotainment range is MMI navigation plus with rotary pushbutton and 7.0-inch monitor displaying graphics and navigation map in 2D or 3D.
The Bose surround sound in our test Q3 had a ten-channel, 465-Watt amplifier driving 14 speakers, including a subwoofer.
Cleverly, it uses a microphone to analyse intrusive noises and adjusts playback accordingly. Brilliant sound can be enjoyed to the full.
The Audi Q3 achieves the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating.
There is a range of advanced driver assistance systems to help avoid a crash; side assist, active lane assist, high-beam assist and hill descent control, along with electric folding and dimming exterior mirrors. Some of these items aren’t standard on all models, check with your Audi dealer prior to taking your personal test drive.
The engine is a delight to sit behind, very responsive after the expected few moments of turbo lag and willing to charge past vehicles being overtaken with a minimum of time on the wrong side of the road.
As is the way with most older dual-clutch autos the Audi unit can be hesitant and irritating at very low speeds. Once up and running it’s fine.
Petrol consumption was in the six to seven litres per hundred kilometres range in highway and motorway cursing. Rising to eight to ten litres around town.
Chassis fine-tuning as part of the update combines with Audi quattro all-wheel drive system and speed-sensitive power steering. The setup gives the Q3 surprisingly agile handling for a tallish SUV. There’s a hint of understeer when the vehicle is driven hard, but we’ve experienced worse.
Noise and vibration are well damped and only the roughest of Aussie back roads will create anything remotely approaching unpleasant sounds.
Though chiefly aimed at buyers wanting a prestige German wagon, the Audi Q3 can also be used to explore bush tracks with plenty of competence. This is a nice combination, one that we hope some owners will enjoy to the full.
AT A GLANCE
Q3 1.4 TFSI: $42,900 (automatic)
Q3 2.0 TDI quattro: $47,900 (automatic)
Sport Q3 2.0 TFSI quattro: $52,300 (automatic)
Q3 2.0 TDI quattro: $56,900(automatic)
Note: These prices do not include dealer or government charges. Contact your local Audi dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Audi Q3 2.0 TFSI quattro 2.0-litre turbo-petrol AWD five-door wagon)
Capacity: 1.984 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 125 kW @ 4300 rpm
Maximum Torque: 280 Nm @ 1700 rpm
Fuel Type: Premium unleaded
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 7.7 L/100km
Greenhouse Vehicle Guide Rating: 7.0/10
Air Pollution Rating: 7.5 /10
CO2 Emissions: 179 g/km
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4385 mm
Wheelbase: 2603 mm
Width: 1831 mm
Height: 1590 mm
Turning Circle: 11.8 metres
Kerb Mass: 1510 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 64 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc
Three years/ unlimited km