The Q3 is Audi’s top-selling vehicle in Australia, racking up 3250 deliveries to the end of September.
While not the last word in flashy excitement – until you climb up into the RSQ3 models of course – it’s a solid and stylish premium contender.
It also offers what appears to a be a reasonable enough starting price in its Q3 35 TFSI entry form as driven here.
A recent price increase (sign of the times) took the Audi Q3’s price of entry in base grade to $50,600 before on-road costs.
Using a Victorian postcode, the Audi Q3’s starting point equates to an estimated drive-away price of $57,330 including dealer delivery, stamp duty, and registration.
By contrast, the price of entry into the BMW X1 sDrive18i base model is $53,900 before on-roads, while a Volvo XC40 Plus B4 is $52,990.
While you pay a privilege for the four-ringed badge, it’s not a stratospheric one so long as you’re willing to forgo a few creature comforts and some extra horsepower. For instance a top-of-the-line Mazda CX-30 X20 Astina has a drive-away price of just under $54,000 and a Volkswagen T-Roc R-Line comes in at just under $51,000 on the road.
Audi does good interiors and this Q3 is not exception. It’s austere for sure – silver trim accents aside – but built like a bank vault and offers great ergonomics.
The leather seats are – somewhat incongruously – manually adjustable, but feel hardy and offers good levels of thigh support.
Meanwhile the leather-wrapped and stitched steering wheel with fashionably small centre piece is simply gorgeous.
Behind the wheel sits a large digital cluster with various modes (activated by wheel controls) beyond the humble tacho and speedo, the highlights of which I found to be the large and user-friendly maps. The cluster also loads quickly without much in the way of lag.
Audi’s designers kept the wheel spokes clean and simple by shifting the cruise control operation to a stalk below the left-hand-side indicator.
The centre stack comprises high-mounted air vents below which sits a 10.1-inch haptic touchscreen which is neatly integrated into a matching piano black trim piece – the downside being this material is a magnet for dust, smudges and sun glare.
The infotainment is user-friendly and quick to process inputs. There’s a fixed vertical shortcut toolbar on the right-hand side, and a home screen with eight big tiles to take you to key sub-menus, so you’ll struggle to get lost.
Highlights include high-definition maps powered by Google with speed limit readout and live traffic, and wireless smartphone mirroring. The native voice control system’s effectiveness left a bit to be desired though, especially compared to the latest Mercedes-Benz MBUX system.
While clear enough, the reversing camera is quite basic and at this price I’d expect a 360-degree overhead view for parking. Likewise, the 35 TFSI variant’s six-speaker sound system is quite basic – serviceable, but not spectacular.
Thankfully Audi has stuck with physical hard controls for the climate control system, in the form of clickety-clackity buttons and beautifully knurled metallic dials that add a sense of class. Below this are the starter button and volume dial.
Interior storage comprises cupholders and a pokey lidded console in the centre tunnel, an open section below the centre stack with a Qi charge pad, 1.5-litre bottle-friendly door bins, and a signature felt-lined glovebox.
At 4484mm nose to tail, the Q3 is pretty compact, yet I had acceptable knee and toe room behind my preferred driving position in the second row – which is pretty good considering I’m quite tall at 194cm or 6’4.
However, the panoramic sunroof fitted to our test car cuts headroom.
The outboard seat bases are long and supportive, with nicely padded and adjustable headrests, although the middle seat is tiny and there’s a pronounced transmission tunnel hump despite this car being FWD.
Amenities in the second row include air vents, USB points and a 12V socket mounted behind the centre console, seat-back nets, and a pull-down centre armrest. The large side windows and small piece of glass between C- and D-pillars lets in plenty of light.
At 530 litres, the boot space is ample, and more capacious than several SUVs classified one segment up. Flip down the 40:20:40 seat base and you gain a large and only slightly angled loading area – I was able to fit two flat-pack bookcase boxes in there.
It’s actually quite capacious and practical, and up to the task of carrying a young family by my estimation.
Audi Q3 Dimensions:
- Length: 4484mm
- Width: 1856mm
- Height: 1617mm
- Wheelbase: 2680mm
- Boot space: 530 litres
- Turning circle: 11.8 metres
- Ground clearance: 191mm
Power comes from a humble VW Group 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine making 110kW and 250Nm, mated to a six-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission.
It’s the same drivetrain as that used in the base ($41,390 before on-road costs) Volkswagen Tiguan 110TSI.
While Audi is synonymous with quattro all-wheel drive, the base Q3 35 TFSI is only front-wheel drive. To get more power and AWD you need to step up into the Q3 40 TFSI variant.
Combined-cycle fuel consumption is 6.9 litres per 100km using the required premium fuel, and the zero to 100km/h time with one passenger takes a leisurely 9.3 seconds.
Audi claims a braked-trailer towing capacity of 1800kg.
Audi Q3 35 TFSI Tech Specs:
- Engine: 1.4-litre turbo petrol
- Power: 110kW at 5000 to 6000rpm
- Torque: 250Nm at 1500 to 3500rpm
- Transmission: Six-speed dual-clutch
- Drive type: Front-wheel
- 0-100km/h: 9.3 seconds
- Fuel economy: 6.9 litres per 100km
- Unladen weight: 1545kg
- GVM: 2055kg
There’s nothing particularly memorable about the way the base Q3 drives, it just does the job.
While its 110kW and 250Nm outputs are nothing to write home about, the arrival of peak torque as low as 1500rpm gives you decent low-speed rolling oomph that belies the 1.4-litre displacement.
The six-speed dual-clutch felt relatively well behaved, and quite smooth unless you really abruptly mash the accelerator at which point there’s a hint of indecision. The upside is smooth and rapid shifts once you’re rolling.
It’s happy just doddling along in sixth gear at Australia’s low highways speeds with excellent refinement levels.
I returned fuel consumption on an average drive loop of 7.2L/100km, which is within cooee of the ADR claim. I also found the absence of stop-start a little puzzling.
Being front-wheel drive, this is a tarmac-focused crossover, but the upside is a lower kerb weight of 1545kg – a hefty 150kg lighter than the base Q3 40 TFSI quattro variant.
If you want some more punch and the wet-road reassurance of AWD, said Q3 40 TFSI quattro offers a 132kW and 320Nm 2.0-litre engine and cuts the 0-100km/h time to 7.8 seconds, with the trade-off being inferior fuel efficiency of 8.0L/100km.
The electric power steering is very light, making the Q3 feel wieldy around town, though those who want some feel and feedback will be left wanting. Audi’s trick variable ratio steering that responds to your wheel angle is reserved for higher-spec Q3 grades.
In terms of ride quality, VW Group cars on the ubiquitous MQB architecture such as this one tend to let in some tyre roar on coarse-chip roads, the sort that are rare in Europe. But Audi’s refinement levels are suitably enough a little better.
The ride quality on passive dampers was a smidgen firm but not offensive, though we should note our test vehicle was riding on 19-inch wheels with slightly lower-profile tyres so the base model without this option is likely a bit comfier again.
- 18-inch alloy wheels
- Space-saver spare wheel
- Front and rear parking sensors
- Adaptive LED headlights
- LED tail lights, dynamic indicators*
- Proximity key*
- Power tailgate
- Aluminium roof rails
- Light and rain sensors
- Dual-zone climate control
- Leather-wrapped steering wheel
- Leather-appointed seats, manual adjustment
- Floor mats
- Ambient interior light package*
- Virtual cockpit 10.25-inch instruments
- 10.1-inch touchscreen display
- Satellite-navigation with traffic updates
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – wireless
- Wireless phone charger
- Voice commands
- Digital radio receiver
- Four USB points and Bluetooth connectivity
- Six-speaker basic audio system
- Passive cruise control with speed limiter
- Reversing camera
- Denotes features that may be unavailable due to component shortages, check with your dealer
A luxury car wouldn’t be a luxury car without some options
- Style Package: $1950
- Body-coloured bumpers
- Silver interior inlays
- Two 19-inch wheel options
- Comfort Package: $2600
- Powered, heated front seats
- Powered, heated, auto-dipping mirrors
- Auto-dimming rear-view mirror
- Adaptive cruise control
- Parking Package: $900
- Must be ordered with Comfort Package
- 360-degree cameras
- Auto parking assist
- Panoramic sunroof: $2250
- 19-inch wheels: $1850
- Ibis white
- Pulse orange*
- Chronos grey*
- Floret silver*
- Glacier white*
- Mythos black*
- Nano grey*
- Navarra blue*
- Tango red*
*Premium paints add $1250
The Audi Q3 has a five-star ANCAP safety rating based on Euro NCAP testing conducted in 2018.
The Q3 achieved a score of 95 per cent for adult occupant protection, 88 per cent for child occupant protection, 76 per cent for vulnerable road users, and 85 per cent for safety assist.
The 2018-stamped five-star safety rating is valid for all variants on sale in Australia bar RSQ3 models, which don’t have a safety rating from the organisation.
Passive safety features:
- Front, front-side, curtain airbags
- First aid kit, warning triangle
- Tyre pressure loss indicator
- ISOFIX x 2 and top-tethers x 3
Driver assist features:
- Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
- Pedestrians (to 85km/h)
- Cyclists (to 85km/h)
- Lane-keep assist
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Rear cross-traffic assist
- Audi connect Emergency & Service
Audi Australia offers a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty for all vehicles registered or delivered after January 1 of 2022. Older models were covered by a three-year plan.
You can buy a servicing plan that covers five dealer services at intervals of either 12 months or 15,000km – whichever comes first.
The price at the time of writing was $2970, at an average of $594 per visit.
A base Audi Q3 in grey paint is not anyone’s definition of exciting.
But it nevertheless offers a high-quality interior with plenty of technologies, an acceptable driving character, and a price point just close enough to the mainstream to warrant attention.
With that said, the Volvo XC40’s standout design and the soon-to-launch new-generation BMW X1‘s standout interior strike me as more interesting choices at a sub $55,000 price point.
Click the images for the full gallery
MORE: Everything Audi Q3