Audi Q3 35 TFSI 2020 road test review

Rear side view of a silver Audi Q3 35 TFSI 2020 car parked in front of a gate

Tim Nicholson

Posted November 24, 2020


Tim Nicholson tests the stylish Audi Q3 35 TFSI small SUV.

The original Audi Q3 small SUV made a big splash when it launched in 2012, quickly becoming one of Audi’s most popular models. Since the October 2019 launch of the second-generation Q3, it has risen to the top of Audi’s sales charts in Australia. We test drive the entry-grade front-wheel-drive 35 TFSI to see if all the attention is justified.

Thumbs up

Spacious cabin, huge boot, latest safety and comfort technology, excellent ride quality, great to drive.

Thumbs down

Some options should be standard, drab grey cabin could use some contrasting colours.

Front side view of a silver Audi Q3 35 TFSI 2020 car parked on a driveway in a country landscape

Price and positioning

From launch last year there was just one Q3 on offer – the 35 TFSI tested here. Now you can opt for a more powerful 40 TFSI quattro (all-wheel drive) and S line. Audi expanded the Q3 line-up recently with the Q3 Sportback, a coupe-style version of the Q3. If performance is what you’re after, the ballistic RS Q3 is available in SUV and Sportback guise.

The 35 TFSI kicks off the range at $46,400 and competes with the BMW X1, Jaguar E-Pace, Lexus UX, Mercedes-Benz GLA, Mini Countryman and Volvo XC40, undercutting the opening price of all but the Mini. 

The Q3’s standard equipment list is decent without being remarkable. It has more in it than the BMW but is missing a couple of features offered as standard in the Benz, like heated front seats.

Options fitted to our test car include metallic paint ($1250) and a Comfort package ($2600) that adds heated and electrically adjustable front seats, auto-dimming interior mirror, adaptive cruise control and heated and folding exterior mirrors. We’ve said it before and will say it again – heated seats (and the auto-diming mirror for that matter) should be standard on an Audi.

 


Safety first

As well as a five-star ANCAP safety rating, the Q3 comes with a high level of standard safety gear (see table below).

The adaptive cruise functions as it should, accelerating and slowing precisely with the vehicle ahead. The lane-keeping aid could be more intuitive – it tends to bounce the Q3 between line markings.

 

Close up of the head light of a silver Audi Q3 35 TFSI 2020 car

The inside story

Audi’s current interior design language is a winner. It’s a typically clean design, but the use of irregular shapes gives it an edge. Aside from the air-conditioning controls there are few buttons in the centre console, although we love that Audi has retained a volume dial. Most functions are housed in the excellent 10.1-inch Connect Plus infotainment and navigation display with haptic touchscreen. The menu is uncomplicated and you don’t need to drill down into sub menus to find a function. Audi’s ‘Virtual Cockpit’ digital instrument cluster provides the driver with clear navigation guidance in the line of sight.

The leather-appointed seats are firm yet comfortable, but they look inexpensive. Everything from the upholstery to the dash and door panels is a similar shade of grey and the cabin could do with some contrasting colours to break it up. It doesn’t exactly scream premium, but the quality of the materials and build can’t be faulted.

The new Q3 is 77 millimetres longer than the previous model, which has liberated more interior space. It offers ample head, leg and toe room in the rear and feels more spacious than the ‘small SUV’ tag suggests. The rear pew is flat but comfortable and there’s handy tray storage next to the two outboard seats. Those seats slide fore and aft for extra adjustability and expanded boot space – a welcome feature. The 40/20/40 split seats fold almost flat and are lowered using a pull strap on the seat base. USB-C ports, a 12-volt outlet, knee-level air vents and ample door storage are all found in the second row.

In terms of practicality, the Q3 is the segment leader. Visibility all-round is excellent. The 530-litre boot (with all seats in place) is bigger than the old model (460 litres) and more capacious than all of its rivals. A temporary spare wheel lives under the boot floor.

 

Rear side view of a silver Audi Q3 35 TFSI 2020 car parked on an unsealed road in the country

On the road

Audi’s ubiquitous 1.4-litre turbo-petrol engine delivering 110kW/250Nm won’t win any drag races, but it’s a sweet unit that delivers decent acceleration from a standing start. Best to opt for the 40 TFSI if you need more grunt. 

Even though it’s larger than the old model, it feels more planted to the road and has far less body roll. It’s relatively flat when cornering and the typically light but sharp steering adds to the dynamic prowess of the Q3.

Some vibration is felt in the steering wheel on uneven roads but it’s not a deal-breaker. The 35 TFSI does without Audi’s famed quattro all-wheel-drive system but it still holds the road exceptionally well. Gravelly road shoulders and sweeping uphill bends on our drive route couldn’t shake the SUV.

The Q3 soaks up bumps and corrugations better than most European SUVs thanks in part to the high-profile tyres riding on 18-inch wheels and the well-sorted damping settings. Most external noise is quelled in the Q3 cabin but it could benefit from some more insulation. 

Audi’s combined cycle fuel figure is 7.2 litres per 100 kilometres and we ended our week on 8.1L/100km.

 


The verdict

The Q3 is a well-built, stylish and practical SUV. It should have a few more standard features but if you’re after an entry-level premium small SUV, the Audi is hard to beat.

 

Audi Q3 35 TFSI 2020

Pricing

List price: $46,400 before on-road costs.
Price as tested: $50,250 before on-road costs.
Model range: $46,400 to $92,900 before on-road costs.

Drivetrain

1.4-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, front-wheel drive.
Power: 110kW@5000-6000rpm.
Torque: 250Nm@1500-3500rpm.
Wheels: 235/55 R18.

Fuel

RON 95 PULP, 58-litre fuel tank.
Consumption: 7.2L/100km (government test), 8.1L/100km (RACV test).
Emissions: 164g/km CO2 emissions.

Standard safety

Five-star ANCAP safety rating, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, tyre-pressure monitor, attention assist, lane-departure warning with lane-keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors and reversing camera.

Standard features

Keyless entry and start, adaptive LED headlights, electric tailgate, dual-zone climate control, 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, Audi Connect Plus 10.1-inch infotainment display with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, sat-nav and Google services, DAB + digital radio.

Warranty

Three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Five-year capped-price servicing plan. Servicing intervals every 12 months/15,000 kilometres.

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