Used Audi Q3 review: 2011-2018 (Mk1) - Interior comfort and safety

Interior space isn’t generous in the Q3 Mk1, but the seats are comfortable and the cabin stylishly designed and handsomely equipped

Carbuyer Rating

3.6 out of 5

Interior, comfort and safety Rating

4.0 out of 5

You can’t talk about the Q3 Mk1’s comfort without mentioning the ride quality, which is a little jittery. Interior space is also merely adequate, with those over six foot tall feeling particularly cramped in the back. However, the cabin is very well insulated from engine, tyre and wind noise, and you can’t help but be impressed by how solidly built it is. Nicely textured soft-touch plastics on the dashboard and along the top of the door trims add to the overall sense of sophistication, while a wealth of standard equipment makes life inside the Q3 Mk1 convenient and relaxing.

What’s the Audi Q3 Mk1 like inside?

Its footprint is akin to that of a family hatchback but as an SUV the Q3 Mk1 is much taller, so when you climb up behind the multi-function, leather-trimmed steering wheel you get a commanding view of the road ahead. There’s a good range of adjustments for the seat and steering wheel, so you should quickly be able to find a comfortable driving position, but the actual space for the driver is a bit cramped for larger people, in part because of the broad centre console.

Relatively thin windscreen pillars help visibility, but the rear window is quite small and the car’s rearmost extremity juts out a fair distance beyond it, so you’ll be thankful that rear parking sensors are standard across the Q3 Mk1 range. The interior design is classy and the quality of the materials used inside is first rate, particularly the neatly-grained soft-touch plastics on the dashboard and door trim tops. The knurled alloy knobs for the stereo volume and heating controls are wonderfully tactile, too, while overall build quality is outstanding.

The Q3 Mk1 lacks the full digital instrumentation that is fast becoming the norm for this type of car (and others), but its analogue speedometer and rev counter clearly laid out and easily read, while between them sits a small digital screen that can display a multitude of information about the car.  The 6.5-inch colour display for the car’s infotainment system, which Audi calls MMI (multi-media interface), features the neat ability to retract into the top of the dashboard at the touch of a button. Depending on the model, the screen shows information about the audio system, your telephone connection, and the map for the satnav.

What’s on the equipment list?

Even the Q3 Mk1’s entry-level trim, the SE, is packed with goodies – dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors, 17-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity for your smartphone, automatic headlights and windscreen wipers, aluminium roof rails, and a retractable colour screen for the MMI (multi-media interface) infotainment system. Following a shake-up of the trim grades in October 2016 the SE became the Sport, gaining an SD card-based satnav system with voice recognition, together with a mild facelift at the front. 

Do you need any more kit than is offered on the SE/Sport? Not really. Would you like more? Perhaps. The S line – which later became the S line Navigation and then the S line Edition – features a neat-looking body kit, lowered sports suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights and LED tail lights, model-specific interior trim details, and sports seats. Satnav joined its specification as part of ongoing upgrades, while the later S line Edition featured the addition of an audio-visual parking aid.

The S line Plus of 2015 featured sat nav and cruise control, and it was replaced by the Black Edition in October 2016 as the Q3 Mk1’s range topper. As its name suggests, the Black Edition features gloss black exterior trim, as well as standard metallic paint, rear privacy glass, a Bose premium sound system, and leather and Alcantara (faux suede) upholstery. 

If you’re considering an S line or Black Edition, then look out for an example with optional computer controlled variable dampers – this system alters how soft or firm the suspension is depending on driving conditions and how you set them, and they take the sting out of those models’ otherwise firm sports suspension.

A worthwhile option to keep an eye open for is the Technology Pack, which includes a hard-drive for music storage, a more advanced 3D satnav system, and digital TV. On the list of optional safety equipment for the Q3 Mk1 are a blind-spot warning system and lane-keeping assistance. And cars fitted with optional xenon-plus headlights could be further upgraded with adaptive headlight technology that shines around corners and automatically dips high-beam when it senses oncoming traffic.

How safe is the Audi Q3 Mk1?

When crash tested by the Euro NCAP safety organisation the Q3 Mk1 achieved the maximum five stars rating. Within that impressive result it scored 94% for adult occupant crash protection, 85% for child occupants, and 86% for safety assistance systems.  However, bear in mind that the Q3 was tested in 2011, when the assessment wasn’t as tough as it is today.

Among its standard safety equipment the Q3 Mk1 features six airbags, electronic stability control and ISOFIX child seat mounting points, while optionally available are a speed limiter, rear side airbags, lane-keeping assistance (to prevent you veering inadvertently from your lane), blind-spot monitoring (to alert you to the presence other road users you can’t see in your outside mirrors), hill descent control (to prevent the car picking up excessive speed downhill) and hill hold assistance (so you don’t roll back into another car when setting off on a slope).

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