Audi Q3 2.0-TDI SE review

Usual highly desirable all-round package

July 2011

picture of car from the front picture of car from the rear picture of car interior picture of car detail

Overall rating

4 out of 5 stars


  • Usual highly desirable all-round package
  • Interior is classy and well made
  • Down-to-earth driving experience of front-wheel drive model really appeals
  • Impressive economy across the range


  • Q5 sibling is its biggest rival
  • Derivative styling is a little disappointing
  • Firm ride in S-line specification
  • Limited off-road ability

Audi's SUV offerings in the form of the Q7 then Q5 have become a huge success for the German firm, and despite being relatively new to their respective sectors both have rivaled established opposition effectively. A logical progression has been followed with the introduction of the Q3, the smallest model in the SUV range to serve increasing demand for these types of cars.

A cursory glance could mistake the Q3 for its bigger Q5 brother such is the similarity in exterior design. That's not necessarily a bad thing however as looks do play a big part in buying decisions in this sector. There are also clear elements of the A1 too, and this indicates the Q3's role in trying to tempt buyers who may have previously thought an SUV was too big or too intimidating to be a realistic purchase.

The mechanical make-up of the Q3 also follows on from the bigger Q5 and encompasses the best Audi technology available. The four-engine line up is all turbocharged with a choice of two petrol and two diesel offerings, all of which come with a stop/start system as standard and energy recuperation designed to achieve maximum efficiency. Crucially the Q3 is available in front-wheel drive with the lowest output diesel engine, and in this form is capable of remarkable economy and emissions performance.

Other than the high-economy version all Q3s come with the expected quattro four-wheel drive system, and transmission options are six-speed manual and a revised version of the seven-speed dual clutch S-tronic which will disengage the clutch when the driver lifts off the throttle to give a more efficient coasting mode. Choose the Drive Select system and an Efficiency mode is included designed to maximise fuel savings.

Inside the Q3 offers similar space to that of a conventional family hatchback, just with the added quality of a typical Audi cabin and the high seating position that is so desirable. It also can be specified with a huge range of high-tech kit usually reserved for models higher up the ladder; online connectivity to Google and in-vehicle WLAN hot spot are all available.

Our verdict on the Audi Q3 2.0-TDI SE

Destined to be as popular as its larger Q5 and Q7 cousins, the Q3 is another car from Audi plugging what the German firm thinks is another potentially lucrative niche. In real terms the Q3 straddles the line between conventional SUV and compact lifestyle hatchback. Audi's A3 is the firm's volume-selling hatchback but this is a conventional three and five-door model. The Q3's appeal lies in its ability to lead people up the ownership ladder to bigger and better SUVs.