Audi Q3 review:
2.0 TDI quattro SE
by David Finlay (12 December 2011)
Not including the various trim levels, this is one of the four types of Audi Q3 that became available when the car first went on sale in the UK (see our launch review for speculation about ones that may appear in the near future).
It's the more powerful of the two TDI turbo diesels in the range, with a maximum output of 175bhp, and unlike the 138bhp version - which gets neither - it comes as standard with seven-speed twin-clutch semi-automatic S tronic transmission and quattro four-wheel drive.
The more I've driven the Q3, the more I've though that including those features was a wise move. This is quite a tall car for its length and width, and there are times when 175bhp feels like quite a lot for it to deal with.
Gearboxes of the S tronic type, despite their super-fast changes once you're on the move, react slowly to calls to pull away from a standstill, and that's possibly a good thing in this case. So too, of course, is the fact that the engine's power is divided among four wheels rather than just two.
On the other hand, the 4x4 aspect didn't help as much as you might have expected it to when I had to drive the Q3 in snow. Even when there's only a mild amount of the white stuff on the road, the Q3 doesn't cut through it so much as ride on top of it, and by "ride" I mean "slither".
I won't say that this is dangerous, because it's up to the driver to behave according to the road conditions, but you do have to take a great deal of care to keep the car pointing the way you want it to. Strange for an SUV, yes? Yes. And this is not something that a different tyre compound or tread pattern would have helped with. What the Q3 needs in this situation is narrower tyres.
In the dry, though, its set-up is very good. For a tall car it handles well, and it soaks up large undulations beautifully. The only annoying aspect is a certain jiggliness on motorways, which is probably more of a tyre thing than a suspension thing.
The interior design is neat, without being any more interesting than it is in most other Audis, which is to say not very interesting at all. It's all very comfortable, though, and there's enough space up front for most people who don't qualify for an entry in the Guinness Book of Records due to oddness of size or shape.
Nobody up to about six feet in height should have a problem in the rear, except that the gap between the sill and the top of the door opening isn't nearly as tall as the shape of the car would suggest. Luggage capacity varies between 460 litres and 1365 litres depending on your seat-folding strategy, making the Q3 more practical in this respect than a BMW X1 but less so than the car that is most likely to be lusted after in this class, namely the Range Rover Evoque.