New Q3 wears the same striking grille as the larger Q8. Picture: SUPPLIED
New Q3 wears the same striking grille as the larger Q8. Picture: SUPPLIED

The new, second-generation Audi Q3 looks distinctly more aggressive and self assured with its giant new grille that looks almost big enough to swallow other cars whole.

It’s the same grille as used on the striking new Q8, with body contours that are inspired by Audi’s quattro cars of the past and make the vehicle seem wider. The previous Q3 looks quite meek and banal by comparison, and for those wishing to make a bold styling statement in the medium SUV class the new version certainly does the trick.

Beneath that more eye-catching sheetmetal is a vehicle that’s grown in almost all dimensions, including a generous 96mm increase in overall length and 77mm in wheelbase for better knee room.

There’s enough space inside this midsized SUV to make you question whether you really need a larger Audi like the Q5 or Q7 as a family car, unless you require the Q7’s extra pair of seats.

Two or three adults will fit quite comfortably into the Q3’s rear, and the three-way split back seats individually have slide and tilt adjustments so that the boot can be expanded from 530l to 675l. That’s very roomy (though there’s just a space-saver spare tyre under the floor) and the optional electric tailgate can be opened and closed at a button-press or with a swipe of your foot.

All-digital cabin presents a high-tech look. The optional orange inserts spice up the interior styling. Picture: DENIS DROPPA
All-digital cabin presents a high-tech look. The optional orange inserts spice up the interior styling. Picture: DENIS DROPPA

That enlarged cockpit presents a digital world bereft of analogue clocks. A large touchscreen infotainment system and digital instrument panel give the interior a hi-tech look, and it’s set into a premium-feeling environment embellished with leather and chrome.

The test vehicle had optional orange Alcantara inserts in the doors and dashboard to spice up the look of the interior. It’s a stylish environment and Audi hasn’t lost its mojo when it comes to making appealing interiors.

The infotainment’s reasonably easy to use and navigate, and there’s voice control which actually works, though right-handed people will still struggle to scrawl legibly on the handwriting touchpad.

Premium sound comes standard in the car, comprising 10 speakers including a subwoofer, while a fancier Bang & Olufsen system with 3D sound is available from the options catalogue.

The new Q3 range is available in three levels of trim but all share the same 35 TFSI S Tronic drivetrain — which consists of a 1.4l turbocharged petrol engine paired with a six-speed automatic gearbox and front-wheel drive.


Audi Q3 35TFSI S line

WE LIKE: Styling, practicality, ride and handling

WE DISLIKE: A lot of the cool features are expensive options

VERDICT: Stylish, spacious and sweet-to-drive family SUV


For its modest cubic capacity the small turbo engine gives a good account of itself, hauling this midsized SUV along at a reasonably energetic pace and without major turbo lag. It’s nicely  responsive in the cut-and-thrust of urban driving and has good cruising legs too.

It is a refined engine, adding to the overall soft-spoken nature of this premium SUV.

The test car’s long-term fuel consumption averaged 9.1l /100km but some of my short-term commuting delivered an impressive figure of under seven litres. As usual it’s all about your right foot.

Being a front-wheel drive SUV means there’s no real offroading on this Audi’s menu, though it has an elevated ground clearance, while owners chasing more adventurous trails than gravel roads can specify optional hill descent control.

On gravel the Q3 delivered a superb ride and handling mix that inspired great driver confidence, and the well-insulated cabin kept out the dust.

The ride quality on tar and gravel is impressive. Picture: SUPPLIED
The ride quality on tar and gravel is impressive. Picture: SUPPLIED

The Q3 S Line version comes standard with sports suspension which makes it feel more car- than SUV-like in the corners, but I was surprised at how well cushioned the ride was on the bumpy dirt road. Audi’s done a great job on the chassis, even without the variable damper control suspension that can be ordered as an option.

This range-topping S Line version offers a decent amount of standard kit for its R599,000 price tag but the catalogue is loaded with extra-cost options. Our test vehicle was kitted with R150,000 worth of them including Drive Select which allows you to switch between milder and sportier driving modes, electrically adjustable front seats, panoramic glass sunroof, lane departure warning, wireless smart phone charging, and navigation, to mention a few.

Audi has hit a sweet spot with its second-generation Q3, packaging good space and practicality into a strikingly designed vehicle with superb driving dynamics.


Tech Specs

Engine

Type: Four-cylinder petrol turbo

Capacity: 1,395cc

Power: 110kW

Torque: 250Nm

Transmission

Type: Six-speed S tronic automatic

Drivetrain

Type: Front-wheel drive

Performance 

Top speed: 204km/h

0-100km/h: 8.9 seconds

Fuel Consumption: 5.9l/100km (claimed); 9.1l/100km (as tested)

Emissions: 162g/km

Standard features

ABS brakes, six airbags, tyre pressure monitoring, cruise control, digital instrument cluster, electronic stability control, hill hold assist, hill descent control, LED headlamps, automatic headlamps, automatic wipers, audio system with Bluetooth and voice recognition, two zone automatic aircon, leather upholstery, S Line cosmetic package, sport suspension, 235/55 R18 tyres.

Warranty and maintenance plan: Five years/100,000km

Price: R599,000

Lease*: R12,822 per month

*at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit

Competition

BMW X2 sDrive18i M Sport auto, 110kW/250Nm — R599,410

Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 AMG Line auto, 115kW/250Nm — R553,197

Citroën C5 Aircross 1.6T Shine, 121kW/240Nm — R509,900

Hyundai Tucson 1.6T Elite, 130kW/265Nm — R598,900

Lexus UX 200 EX, 126kW/205Nm — R620,100

Peugeot 5008 1.6T GT Line, 121kW/240Nm — R579,900

VW Tiguan 1.4 TSI Comfortline R-Line auto, 110kW/250Nm — R529,250

Volvo XC40 T3 Inscription auto, 110kW/265Nm — R582,900

Motor News star rating

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