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Car review: Audi Q3 SUV

Audi's slogan is Vorsprung durch Technik, meaning "Advancement through Technology". The Q3 is testament to this ethos, says car reviewer Tim Barnes-Clay. 

Audi Q3 exterior

It's very hard to find a bad Audi.

No bombshell there, given that the German brand, along with Mercedes-Benz and BMW, is one of the best-selling luxury automakers in the world.

So, what's the Audi Q3 like then?

Well, the most compact member of the Audi Q Series, which includes the Q5 and Q7, is sturdy and good natured.

From some angles it comes across as a little corpulent, but taken as a whole it's a well-groomed machine.

Audi Q3: Spec

Within the bounds of the deceptively spacious cabin five adults can be seated comfortably.

There's also an obliging load bay and high-calibre equipment.

Kit includes dual-zone climate control, an audio system with a retractable colour display screen, Bluetooth interface, iPod connection and light and rain sensors.

The S line specification adds sporty styling touches, including 18-inch alloy wheels and LED lights.

You don't have to make excessive demands of the Q3 to have an engaging drive.

The 2.0 TDI S line version under review here is linked to a six-speed gearbox as standard.

Each gear is found as easily as a hot knife finds its way through butter and progress, thanks to a 138bhp turbo charged oil-burner, is brisk.

Audi Q3 SUV corners like a car

Of course, being a Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV), you'd imagine the Audi Q3 might not handle corners well.

Once upon a time that might have been the case because, traditionally, this type of vehicle had a more upright, boxy body.

The Q3 isn't like this at all because it's designed aesthetically and mechanically to deliver a car-like driving experience.

There's very little lean, and the electromechanical steering with speed-dependent power assist is anything but vague.

Snap the wheel into a left or right-hander and the Q3 will stick faithfully to the line you choose to take.

Only the higher seating position reminds you you're not in a normal hatchback. It's a very reassuring drive indeed.

Five-star safety rating

Audi Q3 interior

As you'd expect from one of the "German Big Three" premium car manufacturers, the Q3 is a safe motor.

Experts from the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) tested the Audi for its adult, child, and pedestrian protection.

It was awarded the highest score of five stars.

But the sumptuous SUV features many other active safety options that go beyond the measures judged by Euro NCAP.

For example, assistance systems have been taken from larger Audi models and help prevent crashes by alerting you to danger when you're changing lanes or parking.

Audi RS Q3 launch late 2013 

Predictably, Audi hasn't rested on its laurels with its squad of SUVs.

The Audi RS Q3 SUV - the first ever Audi SUV to be given an injection of motoring magic by the company's high performance subsidiary Quattro GmbH - will hit the UK's roads this year.

The 155mph brute will be available for ordering in the summer, ahead of first deliveries at the back end of 2013.

So, if the Audi Q3 2.0 TDI S line doesn't do it for you just hang on a bit longer for its muscle-bound brother.

But be prepared to make your pockets a little deeper too.

Audi Q3: Pros & cons

  • Engaging drive √
  • Slick gearbox √
  • Safe √
  • Kit √
  • Discordant looks X

Audi Q3: Fast facts

  • Max speed: 126 mph
  • 0-62 mph: 9.9 secs
  • Combined mpg: 54.3
  • Engine: 1968 cc 16 valve 4 cylinder turbo diesel 
  • Max. power (bhp): 138 at 4200 rpm
  • Max. torque (lb/ft): 236 at 1750-2500 rpm
  • CO2: 137 g/km
  • Price: £27,050 on the road

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Tim Barnes-Clay

Leon Poultney

Tim is an experienced motoring writer with a background in radio and TV journalism. He puts his pedal to the metal each week with his must-read car reviews.

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