First drive: 2019 Audi Q3 launch review

Moving Well | Greg Hill | Posted on 13 October 2019

Greg Hill takes the new Audi Q3 for a first drive launch review.

First impressions:

The Audi Q3 has grown in size and matured, with a focus on style, technology and safety. While this second generation is bigger than its predecessor, which was launched seven years ago, it’s still a compact, premium-grade SUV.

Red Audi Q3 sportback driving through arched timber gates of Byron Bay ranch property

What are we driving?

The front-wheel-drive Q3 35 TFSI with a 1.4-litre TFSI engine and six-speed S-tronic DSG-style automatic transmission is the first to market, with more variants to be progressively introduced. Other engine and driveline options will be available but there won’t be a diesel.  A Q3 Sportback model is expected early in 2020, followed by a quattro (all-wheel drive) and then a performance-focused RS Q3 Sportback. 

How much is it?

The Q3 35 TFSI starts from $46,400 plus on-road costs. Metallic paint adds $1250, while three extra-cost option packs – style, comfort and parking assist – are also available. In addition, a special Launch Edition is being offered for $52,750 plus on-road costs. (Click here for Australia's cheapest family cars for 2019.)

Audi Q3 interior shot of steering wheel and dashboard
Interior shot of Audi Q3 driver's seat

How safe is it?

This new Q3 has achieved a five-star ANCAP rating. Standard driver-assistance safety features include autonomous emergency braking with cyclist and pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, lane-change warning and rear cross-traffic assist.  

What's it like inside?

The extra cabin space makes the Q3 one of the roomiest in the compact premium SUV category. Its high-quality interior has a distinctive Audi family resemblance with a raft of infotainment and connectivity features, as well other technology such as Audi’s virtual cockpit digital instrument cluster, that have flowed down from the larger, more expensive models. Audi claims there is more than $12,000 of additional equipment compared to its predecessor.

What's under the bonnet

The 1.4-litre turbo-charged petrol engine is a well-proven unit that’s been carried over from the previous generation. It produces 110kW of power and a handy 250Nm of torque from 1500rpm to 3500rpm. Ratios in the six-speed S-tronic are widely spread to make use of the turbo engine’s characteristics and provide a good balance between performance and fuel economy.

Rear view of Audi Q3 parked in sprawling driveway with palm trees

Is it fuel efficient?

Hauling a bigger body, the 1.4 TFSI is thirstier than its predecessor but still returns a respectable ADR fuel consumption figure of 7.2L/100km and 164g/km CO2 emissions.

How does it drive?

The 1.4-litre TFSI performs well for a small-capacity engine, with its broad spread of strong torque providing good driveability for everyday use. It can, however, momentarily get caught out occasionally in the higher gears on hills. As you squeeze the throttle for a little more go, there is a slight lag as the transmission changes down and the engine revs climb back into the strong working range. The handling is well mannered, with relatively surefooted cornering ability, while the ride is comfortably controlled, although a touch on the firm side.

Should I buy one?

The previous-generation Q3 has already proven to be a popular choice for buyers shopping at the premium end of the compact SUV category. This second-generation certainly raises the bar in terms of style, space and features but if it’s a sporty drive you’re after, the bigger-engined quattro versions that are coming might be worth the wait.