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In-depth reviews

Audi Q3 SUV - Engines, drive & performance

Enthusiastic drivers won't be grinning but the Audi Q3 is fast, safe and comfortable

Carbuyer Rating

4.1 out of 5

Owners Rating

2.9 out of 5

Read owner reviews
Engines, drive & performance Rating

4.0 out of 5

The Audi Q3 is a mature, grown-up-looking SUV inside and out, and the same is true of the driving experience it offers. Those trading up from a Nissan Qashqai or Kia Sportage will welcome its sense of sophistication, but drivers upgrading from a Ford Kuga and Peugeot 3008 may well wish that the Q3 was a little more fun from behind the wheel.

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Indeed, the Audi can't match its BMW X1 rival where excitement and responsiveness are concerned, but the general feeling is one of competence, safety and comfort, and it has the grip and security to tackle a more challenging road without giving you sweaty palms – while quattro models especially remain a reassuring partner in poor weather conditions. The Q3's wide tyres hold onto the road keenly and bite strongly when you turn into a bend, and there's little of the body lean that can plague some SUVs. Yet the latest Q3 doesn't punish passengers with an uncomfortable ride despite the car’s capabilities in the corners.

Audi must have taken on board criticism of the previous model's unyielding ride, because the latest Q3 is a car transformed. Even the S line trim level, with its large alloy wheels, low-profile tyres and stiffer sports suspension, remains smooth on motorways and – while urban potholes will occasionally send a shudder through the car – low-speed driving is generally very comfortable. Choose the optional adaptive dampers for added smoothness in 'normal' mode and a more focused feel when driving more enthusiastically.

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Perhaps the biggest fly in the Q3's ointment is the way it changes gears. We find the six-speed manual a little clunky, which can frustrate efforts to make quick gearchanges. Meanwhile, the seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic can occasionally pause before obeying an instruction to change gear, and can take a moment to register a quick demand for acceleration when pulling out of a junction or onto a roundabout.

Petrol engines

Audi's engine nomenclature is a little confusing at first, but aims to draw equivalence with models throughout the maker’s range, whatever powers them. So the 35 TFSI makes the same 148bhp as the 35 TDI, despite a smaller 1.5 litre capacity and different fuel. It sits at the bottom of the range, with front-wheel-drive and the six-speed manual gearbox. Audi claims it manages 0-62mph in 9.5 seconds, and 130mph. The seven-speed S Tronic gearbox shaves 0.1 seconds off this.

The 40 TFSI and 45 TFSI are 187 and 242bhp versions of a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine. They cover 0-62mph in 7.3 and 5.8 seconds respectively and both have quattro four-wheel drive and the S tronic automatic gearbox as standard. While the latter is markedly faster when pushed to its limits, the 187bhp version has more than enough power to satisfy most drivers.

Audi Q3 diesel engines

Only one diesel engine is offered in the Audi Q3, but the 2.0-litre is available in a choice of two power outputs. The 148bhp 35 TDI version is available with a manual or automatic gearbox, while the 187bhp 40 TDI is automatic-only.

Acceleration from 0-62mph takes 9.3 seconds in the entry-level diesel model with front-wheel drive and the standard S tronic gearbox, shrinking to 7.3 seconds for the 197bhp model with quattro four-wheel drive and the same automatic S tronic gearbox.

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Which Is Best?

Cheapest

  • Name
    35 TFSI Sport 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £36,040

Most Economical

  • Name
    35 TDI Sport 5dr S Tronic
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £38,810

Fastest

  • Name
    45 TFSI 245 Quattro S Line 5dr S Tronic [Leather]
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £45,350

Andy is Carbuyer's managing editor, with more than a decade of experience helping consumers find their perfect car. He has an MA in automotive journalism and has tested hundreds of vehicles.

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