Audi Q3 2.0 TDI quattro SE S tronic09 | 11 | 2011Scotcars rating

    After a long wait, Audi's smallest member of the Q family has arrived: is it up to the game?


    If you think there are a lot of Audis on the road, that's because there are. Cleverly though, the German company has managed to avoid them being seen as common. Far from it — they rightly claim their brand is regarded as "mature" and "premium", terms which to some extent have slipped a wee bit with their Teutonic competitors. One of the reasons is they've come up with a great range of new models which each have their own identity, sharing only the iconic four rings at the front and back ends. In only the past five years, they've revealed no fewer than 12 new models — not just updates of existing ones.

    The latest is the Q3, the third in the SUV segment following on from the massive Q7 and the Q5, which has proved a big hit. The newcomer is aimed at those who want the practicality and comfort of a four-wheel drive and the confidence that brings as our winters get more severe, but don't need the hi-tech grunt and off-road capability of the bigger and more expensive alternatives.

    The new compact Q3 is also remarkably stylish; like a big brother of the A1 hatch who's been working out for long hours at the gym and now has the pecs and beefy shoulders to show for it. But it's going to face a serious challenge from Range Rover's new Evoque which has taken the segment by storm and wins, just marginally, in the looks department.  

    On the Road

    I didn't get the chance to take the test car off road, but most Q3 buyers aren't looking for that either. They want the reassurance of extra traction, control and stability of the renowned quattro system when conditions get bad on the black stuff over the winter. They'll certainly get that and I was impressed with its performance on wet roads around the Yorkshire moors, happily dealing with mud, leaves and deep puddles without a murmur. A lot of work has been done to reduce weight, including an aluminium bonnet and tailgate to improve economy, which is impressive for what is still a pretty big car with loads of space inside.

    Another benefit is that the Audi designers and engineers have also worked hard to reduce the cost of minor accident repairs and that's led to it having a considerably lower insurance rating than the rival BMW X1 or the Range Rover Evoque. 

    There are two petrol and two diesel engines available from launch, and there's the option of an adaptive dynamics system with an efficiency mode which disengages the active clutch when the driver lifts off the throttle. This allows the car to "coast" without any engine input, which of course helps the economy. For the first time in an Audi SUV, a front-wheel drive version will be available soon for people who want the look and feel of a 4x4 without the extra running cost of a quattro.  

    Comfort and Safety

    The Q3 is a five-seater with a good size boot, and the SE version comes with 17in alloys, roof rails, parking sensors, dual zone climate control, Bluetooth, 6.5in retractable colour display screen and rain and light sensors. While the electromechanical parking brake is efficient and saves cabin space, I'd still prefer the conventional handbrake.

    The dash layout is classically Audi, businesslike, efficient and all the systems are easy to operate. Audi is expecting to sell around 8000 a year in the UK and they're well on course to do that with strong advance orders but they are facing a strong challenge from the Evoque.  

    Should I buy One?

    Quality, quattro assurance on the road, and efficient … but take a look at the Evoque as well.

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    Alan Douglas

    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £28,560 / £33,900
    Engine / Power: 1968cc 7-speed quattro / 175bhp
    How fast?: 0-62mph 8.2secs / 132mph
    How big/heavy?: L4385mms W1831mm H1590mm / Weight 1585kg
    How thirsty/CO2?: Combined 47.9mpg / CO2 156g/km
    InsGP/Road tax: na / Band G £265
    Alternatives: Range Rover Evoque; BMW X1; Kia Sorento; Volvo XC60

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