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The Top Gear car review:Audi Q3
What is it like on the road?
The 150bhp petrol deactivates two cylinders for saving fuel when you’re not trying too hard. This is a nice engine in a VW Golf or elsewhere, but here it struggles. Outright performance calls for patience, taking 9.2secs to get to 62mph from zero, but you can forgive that because it’s a small engine in a bulky car. More seriously annoying is that it’s sullen rather than playful.
It’s laggy below 3,000rpm and gritty-sounding above, so whatever gear you choose, you wish you were in another. The new seven-speed DCT doesn’t help, failing to change smoothly.
It’s got a petrol particulate filter and meets the latest exhaust standards, and it’s also been set up for WLTP fuel measurements. The engineers were overwhelmed by all these new requirements and had to let the actual driving quality slip down the priority list.
The 230bhp 2.0 petrol is similarly out of sorts, if less so. It makes the 0-62mph sprint in a brisk 6.3secs. But you’d never guess it’s fundamentally a Golf GTI engine.
Meanwhile the 2.0 TDI quattro with a manual is quite a nice example of the genre – good at lugging, and not especially rattly. The gearstick moves around slickly, the clutch is smooth and the whole rig is well-mannered even in stop-start traffic.
In corners, the front-drive Q3 TFSI rolls little and operates with a nice accuracy. It’s fleet of foot. It melds this with a ride that, though taut, isn’t harsh or crashy, and copes well with broken town roads. What it does not do is interact; no balancing on the throttle, no steering feel.
More fun can be had in the 2.0 Quattro, with stronger engine reactions to amusingly strain the tyres, either under power or when you lift off. Among the many mode settings, the torque proportion to the rear wheels becomes more significant in the ‘dynamic’ mode.
Adaptive damping is optional, or standard on the top trim. It can subtly sharpen up the cornering without despoiling the ride, but it’s not transformative.
All the Q3s settle decently into a cruise, because that’s what German cars do – demolish the autobahn, even if not doing absurdly big speed. The optional driver-assist steering loses the lane markings more often than some others though, so please don’t rely on it while you open your sandwiches.
There’s also an off-road mode, which gives you hill-descent control.