Sampling Audi’s smaller SUV, the Q3.

OVER 10 years ago Audi was quick to introduce a range of SUVs, starting with its largest model, the Q7. This was a large vehicle and not so loved in the UK. It was followed by the smaller Q5, which sold really well and was a very nice product. Then came the smaller Q3, which was perhaps a little too small to be really practical. Over time, all these models were replaced.

The second-generation Q7 no longer seems so big and has sold very well, as has the second-generation Q5. Most recently, the second-generation Q3 has morphed into a rather nice-looking vehicle, slightly larger than the model it replaced. Subsequently, these three models have been refreshed with a dose of chrome and light and grille changes that make them look over-designed and similar to each other, though the Q3 still looks good.

Forestry Journal:  Adaptive cruise control has its own steering column stalk. Adaptive cruise control has its own steering column stalk. (Image: FJ)

To expand market share, Audi then went on to introduce the Q8, a large-grilled coupe version of the Q7, followed most recently by coupe versions of the Q5 and Q3. I was interested to test the Q3, so Audi lent me a Q3 Coupe fitted with front-wheel drive and a petrol engine (though I would have preferred to have tested the Q3 Tdi Quattro).

The Q3 Coupe is £1,000 more expensive than the ordinary and better-looking Q3. The 1.5-litre petrol front-wheel-drive version tested here retails at £41,000. The 4WD diesel version costs another £3,000. Interestingly, both are rated at just over 40 mpg, and in my hands I saw average fuel consumption at exactly that – 40mpg – slightly higher if snailing it and less at higher motorway speeds.

The car was equipped with a seven-speed automatic gearbox, which worked well in combination with the 1.5-litre 4-cylinder engine which has 150 hp and 250 Nm of torque.

Even though its official acceleration is 9.4 seconds to 62 mph, the car was nippy and the engine keen to rev. I certainly never found it lacking punch and it was plenty fast enough, at least with only the driver on board. It also sounded good and, combined with good handling, made for a sporty drive. The brakes were not as good as they could have been. 

The vehicle was equipped with adaptive cruise control which I was keen to use. I find that on most busy British roads, ordinary cruise control is not really suitable as you are constantly turning it on and off, and so I rarely use it. However, this adaptive cruise control is great. If you set it at say 70 mph and approach a car doing 60 mph, it will slow down to 60 mph and then accelerate back up to 70 mph once that slower car moves into the slower lane. On a couple of occasions slower cars pulled out in front of me and the Q3 slowed down right away.

Forestry Journal: Boot space is compromised by a low roof.Boot space is compromised by a low roof. (Image: FJ)

It is a bit alarming as you have to trust the car to slow down quickly and not drive into the back of the car in front. On one occasion, a truck suddenly pulled out in front of me and I felt the need to jam on the brakes, not leaving it to the car to brake itself automatically. I am sure it would have done so and over time you would learn to trust it, but first out it is a bit disconcerting. 

The car weighs a hefty 1,570 kg but can only tow a 750 kg braked trailer. The fuel tank holds 58 litres and the boot 530 litres, rising to 1,400 litres with the seat backs folded down. This vehicle had 19” wheels and 235/50 tyres. The steering is nice and precise, adding to the enjoyable drive.

The engine had the same coasting system as fitted to the Audi A4 Tdi Quattro I tested a few months ago and which, in that car, was too noticeable and spoiled the driving experience. In this petrol engine version the engine automatically drops power to idle, but comes on stream once required. You don’t notice it so much, but I would prefer not to have it.

As has been the case with Audis of late, the dashboard presents too much information. A simpler layout would be much better.

Forestry Journal: The dashboard is too complicated.The dashboard is too complicated. (Image: FJ)

I don’t know if the Q3 Coupe drives more sportily than the standard Q3, but I certainly I enjoyed driving it and gaining my first experience of adaptive cruise control. It has a slightly raised ground clearance but it is obviously no off-roader. It does seem expensive compared to other small SUVs but nice all the same. Enjoy.