Audi expects the Q3 to appeal to young families and young families always need more room
It was popular but thanks to a harsh ride, limited interior space and a dated dashboard it wasn’t a class leader.
With the second generation Q3, on sale next month, Audi hopes it has fixed all these problems.
But will it shoot straight to the top of the class?
Audi expects the Q3 to appeal to young families and young families always need more room.
The new small SUV is now slightly larger than the original version. The overall length is up by just under four inches and it’s also a little wider and lower.
Most of the extra length has gone between the wheels so there’s much improved rear seat legroom. However, there’s also a much larger boot, which is now bigger than almost all its rivals.
Because Audi has addressed all the issues that afflicted the original Q3, it expects the new Q3 to increase sales. Last year Audi registered more than 17,000 Q3s, so in 2019, the new car’s first full year on sale, it should be exceeded.
Aside from the Audi badge on the front, one of the reasons the flawed first generation Q3 sold so well was its looks and this second generation looks even better.
In profile it shares a lot with the larger Q5, while the front end styling is now much crisper with a deeper and bolder grille with contrasting colour inserts plus narrower and slightly aggressive looking headlights. It makes it easy to tell apart from the original without differing too radically.
Under the Q3’s bonnet is a choice of three petrol engines and two diesels, all turbocharged. The three petrols are a 150bhp 1.5-litre or a pair of 2.0-litre units with 190bhp or 230bhp. The diesels are both 2.0-litres with either 150bhp or 190bhp.
It’s not hard to see why the 150bhp turbo petrol engine will be the biggest seller. It’s impressively refined when driving around town or at a motorway cruise speed, in terms of the lack of cabin noise and the smooth way in which the revs rise under acceleration. When you do accelerate harder the engine note isn’t at all harsh either.
The 150bhp petrol also has enough performance to keep the majority of drivers happy and to handle the car’s increased size on longer inclines. Audi claims the 0 to 60mph time for this version, with its new seven-speed automatic gearbox, is 9.2 seconds.
However, for those likely to be driving higher mileages, the diesel is also refined and quiet, if not quite class leading, as it can sound a little noisy on a cold start. The less powerful diesel with the manual gearbox takes a similar 9.3 seconds to get from standstill to 60mph but it feels quicker than the petrol in everyday driving.
For those that need the fastest Q3, the 230bhp petrol is capable of 0 to 60mph in 6.3 seconds and will go on to a top speed of 144mph.
The interior has all the latest innovations in top materials
Space has increased for passengers and their luggage
Audi has yet to publish any fuel economy or emissions figures for the new Q3. These will be released closer to cars arriving in showrooms. However, both the petrol and diesel 150bhp engines are expected to be competitive, so expect around 60mpg for the entry-level turbo-diesel. Possibly the biggest leap forward in the new Q3 is the way it drives.
Audi has properly sorted out the suspension in the Q3. Gone is the overly hard and jarring ride and in has come comfort and compliance.
YET the Q3 is still impressive on a twisty road with little body roll. The suspension tackles both minor road imperfections and larger potholes well while also being quiet, with only the worst bumps being felt in the cabin.
As a result of the improved suspension the steering feels much more in line with the type of person who’s likely to buy the Q3. It’s light and precise and makes it easy to place the car where you want on the road.
Unfortunately the new sevenspeed automatic gearbox isn’t so great. Expected to be a bigger seller than the manual, it’s often hesitant in its choice of gears, making smooth progress difficult and judging roundabouts more exciting than it should be.
Thankfully, manual gear selection is possible via the paddles mounted behind the steering wheel but if you’re using the paddles to change gear all the time, why not just buy the manual gearbox version which is easy to use, light and precise?
Alongside the huge improvement in the way the car drives (auto gearbox aside), the new Q3’s dashboard is now bang up to date. It uses the same digital instrument cluster that Audi offers elsewhere.
All cars have this set-up which is clear and easy to read and great for displaying a host of functions.
Moving to the centre of the dash, there is a second screen that is similar in design to the upper of the two touch-screen set-up found in the latest range-topping Q8.
And it almost goes without saying that both the materials and construction quality of the Q3 dashboard and the rest of the cabin is first rate. The boot is now 530 litres, up from 420 litres. If more storage is required the rear seats slide forward, robbing you of legroom but creating a 675-litre load space.
All these improvements mean the new Q3 is now a desirable car because it’s competitive with rivals and not just a small SUV with an Audi badge on the front.