Car reviews - Audi - Q3 - 35 TFSI Launch Edition
Classy exterior styling, interior packaging and roomy dimensions, well-balanced ride quality, strong NVH levels
Room for improvement
Prone to understeer when pushed, can feel jittery over rough surfaces, performance a bit sluggish off the line, DCT slow to kick down when accelerating
Audi raises the bar with stylish, roomy and competent all-new Q3 small SUV
11 Oct 2019
THE all-new, second-generation Q3 small SUV has been a long time coming for Audi. Replacing a model that went on sale in 2012, the new version was revealed in mid-2018, and after a delay related to WLTP testing regulations, is finally here in Australia.
Audi has high hopes for the new Q3, with the goal of returning to segment leadership – an achievement the previous-generation version managed three times.
With stiff competition coming from the likes of the Volvo XC40 and BMW X1, the Q3 will need to step its game up to best all comers on the sales charts.
Does the new Q3 have what it takes to top one of the fastest-growing segments in the country?
While by this time next year the Q3 range will offer a range of variants and powertrains, at launch only the entry-level 35 TFSI will be offered, as well as a limited-run Launch Edition based on it.
In coming months, the range will be expanded to include the more powerful 40 TFSI quattro, the fire-breathing RS Q3 and the coupe-like Sportback body style.
The 169kW 45 TFSI is also under consideration but is yet to be confirmed.
During our time with the Q3, we only sampled the Launch Edition, which at $52,750 plus on-roads is $6350 dearer than the 35 TFSI but adds a number of extra specification features.
From the outside it adds metallic paint, body-coloured bumpers and wheelarches, a black styling package, 19-inch alloys, folding exterior mirrors and privacy glass.
Audi often produces vehicles with clean exterior designs, and the Q3 is no exception. The Launch Edition’s 19-inch hoops, body-coloured bumpers and metallic paint give it a premium feel and add to the classy clean lines, LED lighting and taut proportions that make the Q3 a visually attractive vehicle.
Audi also has a reputation for excellent interior design, with the Q3 blending new technology with seamless integration to create a cabin with a high-quality feel and an element of luxury above its price point.
Standard kit includes a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster and a 10.1-inch touchscreen beautifully integrated into the dashboard with a piano-black surround, projecting Audi’s latest MMI Plus infotainment system.
Audi has done away with the rotary dial and surround buttons that used to control the MMI system – a feature we appreciated – and has instead moved controls to the touchscreen and its surrounds, which we are pleased to say still work well.
The most important physical buttons – the air-conditioning controls and volume knob – remain as their own controls, while all else is moved to the touchscreen.
Audi’s satellite navigation interface has been given an update that gives its maps a much clearer and more visually appealing look, and operation for the most part is smooth and easy.
Our only gripe is when using the sat-nav, the system should give more visual cues when a turn is coming up, as on multiple occasions the system did not zoom in on the junction where a turn is to take place, or offer a turning arrow or something similar to place an emphasis on the upcoming change of direction.
The Launch Edition comes as standard with a surround-view camera, which we believe is one of the best features you can include on a modern car. The Q3 is by no means large or difficult to park, but the job is made that much easier when such technology is fitted.
Arguably the most impressive element of the interior is the increased dimensions, with the Q3 now underpinned by Volkswagen Group’s MQB platform, which has liberated a considerable amount of space inside.
A 530-litre boot is impressive for its size and can even compare to some offerings one segment larger, while headroom and legroom are generous even for rear passengers – something that can certainly not be said of all of its competitors.
As mentioned, only a single engine variant is available for the 35 TFSI and Launch Edition – a 1.4-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder unit developing 110kW at 5000rpm and 250Nm from 1500-3500rpm, driving the front wheels via a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Performance from the entry-level engine can only be described as adequate – it is neither too underpowered, nor gives any illusion of potent performance.
This is perfectly appropriate for the entry-level model and is enough engine for regular day-to-day driving.
Performance can be a bit sluggish off the line, but once the engine is in the sweet spot of the rev range, the Q3 begins to become lively.
The six-speed transmission can be partly to blame for the sluggish performance, which despite being a dual-clutch still shifts slowly, particularly in low gears and when kicking down a ratio or two after a generous application of right foot.
During our day with the Q3 Launch Edition, we recorded a fuel consumption figure of 7.1 litres per 100km, which actually comes in at 0.1L/100km less than the official combined-cycle figure.
35 TFSI models are the only powertrain in the Q3 line-up to drive the front wheels instead of using Audi’s signature quattro all-wheel drive, and while the outputs of the 35 TFSI don’t necessitate all-paw traction, some understeer is felt when pushing the car around corners on open roads.
With independent suspension on all four corners, the Q3 has a well-balanced suspension set-up that gives a supple on-road feel while also keeping the ride composed in more dynamic situations.
When poor road surfaces are encountered, the Q3 can tend to skip over bumps and imperfections, sending rattles through the vehicle, but for the most part its ride quality is commendable, especially with adaptive dampers not fitted.
Despite the MQB underpinnings at times feeling slightly hollow and tinny, noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels are generally premium, with a quiet and ambient cabin that deals well with poor road surfaces, especially on the 19-inch wheels.
The small SUV -egment is continually becoming more competitive having grown exponentially in recent years, and Audi certainly has a task ahead of it to retain segment leadership.
However, the Q3 is a compelling package, blending luxury, practicality and design. And with more powerful and better-specced versions on the way, the small SUV crown is sure to be hotly contested by the four rings brand.
The Road to Recovery podcast series
Model release date: 1 October 2019
All car reviews
Click to share