What is it?
Audi has cleaved open another gap in its mega portfolio to create the slightly predictable Q3. It’s a posh crossover that’s bigger and taller than the A3 but – despite appearances – not quite as full-figured as the Q5. So it’s a smallish hatchback jacked-up to look like an SUV, while still looking like a hatchback. It’s designed mostly for tarmac, but the raised ride height and optional four-wheel-drive will do a decent job of treading over a relatively rough track.
The hatchback-ish looks disguise a surprisingly large stature. You have to post it carefully through tighter streets, it’s not as parkable as something A3-sized and the added suspension height means it feels a bit clumpy over urban obstacles. It’s more pleasant around a corner, although the electric power steering removes some of the sensation between your hands and the front wheels. At least excess flab is avoided thanks to aluminium body and suspension parts, and you can opt for adaptive dampers for improved corner huggery, though if you’re looking for razor dynamics, you’re looking in the wrong place.
There’s a lovely array of engines, starting with the 140bhp 2.0-litre diesel with FWD, but most people will, and should, upgrade to the quieter and more effortless 177bhp quattro version of the same engine. The petrol alternative is a 2.0-litre turbo with 4WD and either 170 or 211bhp. Both are very smooth and the top one is reasonaly quick, but we’d stay with the middle diesel for the best mix of usability, performance and economy.
On the inside
It’s another boringly decent identikit Audi in here. The layout is smart yet functional and there’s almost as much space as the bigger Q5 (the Q3’s engine is mounted across the engine bay, whereas the Q5’s goes lengthways, leaving more room in the overall layout for human beings).
All models get climate control, plus a proper phone and iPod interface. There’s a comms and entertainment screen, which also displays the sat nav if you’ve ticked that box. However, there’s a ‘gagged’ GPS built in to less pricey versions, which can be unblocked after purchase for instant conversion to a nav-equipped car.
It’s an Audi, so it ain’t cheap, but there shouldn’t be any nasty surprises. Be careful with the options list to avoid losing big chunks of your investment when it’s time to sell – best go with a low-to-medium level of goodies. Don’t be tempted by the S line chassis – it’s too hard. If you must treat yourself, go for the LED interior light pack to turn the cabin into the lobby of a boutique hotel. The 177bhp diesel hits the sweet spot between performance and affordable running costs, with 47.9mpg and CO2 emissions of 156g/km.