Audi’s slogan is “Vorsprung durch Technik”, meaning "Advancement through Technology". There is no arguing with that ethos when it comes to the Q3. To tell the truth, it is 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. The Q3 is the most compact member of the Audi’s sport utility vehicle (SUV) Q Series, which includes the Q5 and Q7, and the Q3 straddles the line between a normal SUV and a lifestyle hatchback.
It is a sturdy, good natured and well-groomed machine. You don’t have to make excessive demands of the Q3 to have an engaging drive. The 2.0 TDI S line version, for example, is linked to a six-speed gearbox as standard. Each gear is found easily, and progress, thanks to a 138bhp turbo charged oil-burner, is brisk.
Ride and handling
Being a compact SUV, you would imagine the 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 is designed aesthetically and mechanically to deliver a car-like driving experience.
There is very little lean, and the 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 hints that you are not in a normal hatchback. It is a very reassuring drive indeed.
Within the bounds of the deceptively spacious cabin, five adults can be seated comfortably in the Audi Q3. There is 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. A high seating position and brilliant visibility means parking is easy, while rear parking sensors are standard across the Q3 range.
What to know before you buy
The Audi Q3 is a very reliable car and there are no major issues. Just check for creaks and rattles from interior parts of the cabin when you take a used Q3 out for a test drive. Also, the cost of updating models with an in-built sat-nav can be pricey.
The BMW X1 is the obvious secondhand rival here. It does have rather strange looks, but it offers a decent drive and there is a strong engine line up. The now defunct Land Rover Freelander offers great used prestige and off-road ability, but it is generally not as efficient or as reliable as an Audi Q3.
Then there is the Mini Countryman, which is nothing more than a tall hatchback. However, it is seen as cool, despite being expensive for what it is.
As you would expect from one of the "German Big Three" premium car manufacturers, the Q3 is a safe motor. European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) experts 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 are changing lanes or parking. Combine that with the excellent fit and finish on all Q3s and you have one of the best used family SUV’s available.