It seems the compact premium SUV has become the new holy grail for modern manufacturers. Almost everyone is playing the game, and while Audi may have arrived in this space early with the original Q3, brand loyalty in this segment is meaningless against image and trend.
You’d expect that the new Q3 would need to do more than merely build on its predecessor’s foundations to compete, then. Traditional rivals such as the Range Rover Evoque and Volvo XC40 are stronger than ever – and with updraught mainstream rivals in the form of the Peugeot 3008 and Mazda CX-5 nipping at those proverbial heels, there is no space for the new Q3 to be average, let alone underwhelming.
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It might come as a disappointment to see that the Q3’s not been transformed or revolutionised, rather it’s simply been aligned to its specific sliver of market space so as to avoid getting too close to its multiple in-house SUV siblings. There is hope for the Q3, as we’re likely to see a new RSQ3 later in the car’s life cycle, something that Audi has not played coy about replacing with constant sightings of baritone and big-booted mules pounding laps around the Ring. But, for the moment, the question of how more cooking Q3 models perform remains the more pressing issue.
Audi Q3: in detail
Engine, transmission and technical details – Drawn from the Volkswagen Group’s MQB collection, powertrains are adept if not especially refined or responsive – its general underpinnings are akin to that of an automotive groundhog day
MPG and running costs – All Q3s are reasonably frugal, and should be capable of matching their WLTP economy figures
Prices, specs and rivals
Prices for the new Q3 start at just under £30k for the entry-level front-wheel-drive 35 TFSI with a manual transmission, and rise to over £45k for the fully loaded Vorsprung 45 TFSI quattro. All models are reasonably well equipped, with Audi’s MMI touch infotainment system, a basic set of digital instrument dials, 18-inch wheels and LED headlights standard.
S line and Vorsprung trim levels add a further £1800 and a hefty £9,690 to basic Sport model prices, although the latter does throw in the proverbial kitchen sink, with equipment highlights including 20-inch alloy wheels, matrix LED headlights, contrasting exterior paint finishes, Alcantara interior trim, a Bang and Olufsen hi-fi, added driver assistance elements and more.
Rivals are priced on a par, with the equivalent Volvo XC40 and BMW X1 generally matching the Audi’s price point spec for spec, and the new Range Rover Evoque sitting slightly higher. Using a Q3 35 TDI S-Tronic model as a reference point at £34,860, the Volvo XC40 D3 R-Design comes in at £34,085, the BMW X1 18d M Sport at £35,695 and Range Rover Evoque D150 Auto at £36,615.
To play devil’s advocate, specify an Audi A4 S line Avant with the same powertrain and its larger cabin, bigger boot, superior interior and vastly more sophisticated chassis look to be awfully good value for just £1200 more. Consider the A4’s bump in standard equipment and that difference in value shrinks yet further.