The new Audi Q3 Estate is a smart-looking, compact family car that, as usual with Audi, boasts an upmarket interior and a selection of strong engines.
The compact Estate sector is pretty competitive and there’s a lot for you to take your pick from, but it’s a niche that Audi are still new to. However, the Q3 sold well last time around on the strength of its badge appeal, usability and easygoing nature behind the wheel. Will it be much the same this time around?
OSV takes a closer look at what it’s all about with our 2018 Audi Q3 Estate review.
On the road
All engines in the Q3 line-up are performative, and all can complete the 0-62 dash in less than 10.0 seconds. They are also all-powerful, agile and even kinda fun.
Body lean is well resisted by the Q3 but rivals can offer more composure on winding roads. There’s plenty of grip available, however, but if it’s pure driving fun you want, you’d still be better off taking a closer look at a BMW.
On the flipside, the Audi isn’t the last word in comfort either. The German brand has worked hard to find a happy medium between ride quality and handling but they’ve been outdone by competitors on both counts.
Quattro four-wheel-drive is well worth adding if you’ll be heading out into compromising situations fairly frequently. It provides a reassuring amount of safety and should be a no-brainer for certain buyers, even if it does cost over £1,000.
Adaptive dampers are also available as an optional extra and they let you firm-up or soften the car’s suspension. The S Line models get firmer, lower suspension and larger wheels as standard, and this will have a negative impact on ride quality. We recommend that if you test this car, take it out onto a variety of roads.
In terms of the engines, the 1.4-litre turbo petrol might be the entry level unit but we really like it. It can get you from rest to 62mph in 9.2 seconds if you stick to the 6-speed manual ‘box and 8.9 seconds if you specify the 7-speed S-Tronic automatic.
A four-wheel-drive only 2.0-litre petrol engine can’t be paired up with the manual transmission, and has enough oomph to get you from a standstill to 62mph in 7.6 seconds.
If it’s pure performance you’re looking for, try the RS Q3, an absolute beast of a car that develops 335hp and which covers the 0-62 sprint in just 4.8 seconds. Its five-cylinder 2.5-litre engine seems faintly unnecessary for a car like this but power can be topped up to 362bhp if you go for the Q3 RS Performance variant. It’s 0-62 time? Only 4.4 seconds.
Audi Q3 Estate interior, design and build
As ever with Audi, they’ve put together a near-faultless interior that glistens with quality. It might be one of the cheapest Audi’s on the market but that doesn’t mean you’ll be finding harder plastics anytime soon. Instead, soft-touch plastics are everywhere, while even the controls for the stereo catch our eye with their quality.
Insulation, meanwhile, is fantastic.
There is a caveat, however: The Audi Q3’s cabin is dated. For whatever reason, the brand hasn’t made use of the VW Group’s latest and greatest tech, which means it doesn’t look as contemporary as its rivals. Build quality is good, and we like the ambient lighting and MMI integrated entertainment system … but design-wise, it’s questionable.
There’s nothing wrong with the car on the practicality front, however. It’s slightly bigger than a mainstream Hatchback but is arguably more usable. The high roofline and large windows create the illusion of more space than there is, while a £1,000 optional panoramic sunroof will enhance that illusion.
There’s plenty of rear seat room for passengers, with both head and legroom getting the thumbs up from us. Storage spaces are plentiful and include some sizeable door bins and an air-conditioned glovebox, while the boot has a capacity of 420-litres with the seats down. Fold the rear seats and you can extend it to 1,325-litres and we think buyers will appreciate its square shape.
Equipment and safety of the Audi Q3 Estate
Standard kit across the range is reasonable, with the entry-level model getting the likes of automatic lights and wipers, stop-start tech, parking sensors, LED daytime running lights, Audi Drive Select, Bluetooth, sat nav, MMI integrated entertainment and climate control.
The S Line trim gets leather and cloth sports seats, a leather gear level, a sports steering wheel, more chrome on the exterior and 18” alloys. The range-topping Black Edition adds metallic paint, Alcantara and leather sports seats, tinted windows, cruise control and parking assist.
Is the car safe? Euro NCAP awarded it all five stars for its crash test performance and its standard safety kit includes electronic stability control, ISOFIX child seat mount points and 6 airbags. Hill-hold assistance, hill descent control and blind spot monitoring are all optional.
Costs of the Audi Q3 Estate
Prices for the new car start out from £27,910 and rise to £37,900. For more information on our leasing deals, check out our page here.
In terms of its running costs, the 1.4-litre turbo is the most frugal out of the petrol engines and can return as much as 51.4mpg while emitting 127g/km of CO2. The bigger 2.0-litre petrol unit offers more power but comes with four-wheel-drive as standard and this has a negative impact on its fuel economy and emissions. It averages 42.8mpg and emits 152g/km of CO2.
All models under £40,000 cost £140 a year to tax, while the car sits between insurance groups 22 and 29.
Pros and cons of the Audi Q3 Estate
It might cost more than mainstream rivals but it has the edge with its four rings and premium badge.
The Q3 is one of Audi’s most affordable models but don’t think for one second they were going to cut corners in terms of interior quality.
All engines can get you from a standstill to 62mph in less than 10.0 seconds, with the RS Q3 able to do it in a breathtaking 4.8 seconds.
It’s upmarket but it’s also dated and is falling behind its rivals.
It’s fair to say that it won’t turn heads.
Audi Q3 Estate vs Lexus NX vs Land Rover Range Rover Evoque Hatchback
Let’s see how the car fares against its rivals in the comparison section of our 2018 Audi Q3 Estate review.
Audi Q3 Estate vs Lexus NX
The chunky new Lexus NX is an assertive-looking family car that treats buyers to an impressively lavish interior.
In terms of out-and-out drivability, the Lexus can’t claim to be top dog. It’s comfortable enough on the motorway but it struggles in town, where its light steering and firm suspension don’t prove all that conducive. It also lacks grip compared to the Audi.
That said, all models barring the entry-level model get four-wheel-drive as standard. However, this is no serious off-roader and the traction control system can’t be manually configured.
There’s only one petrol engine in the range and it’s a 2.5-litre unit that combines with an electric motor to power the Lexus NX 300h hybrid. It develops 195bhp, feels underpowered, and relies on a CVT automatic ‘box which gets a bit noisy when you put your foot down.
0-62 is dispensed within 9.2 seconds but the car feels sluggish during everyday driving. The verdict of the hybrid engine? It can be quite frustrating at times, but it can also be relaxing. Sometimes, you’ve just got to caress the throttle and it will comply.
In terms of running costs, Lexus reckon the NX hybrid can return as much as 54.3mpg while emitting 121g/km of CO2. To get those figures, however, you would need to drive very carefully. Otherwise, you could be looking at 38mpg on average.
Inside, there’s a lot to like about the Lexus. The design is striking and even funky in places, while the supportive seats and plush materials make it a great place to be. Everything is clearly well-built and there are lots of luxurious touches to give it serious upmarket appeal.
All models get a portable vanity mirror, while the infotainment system is controlled via a touchpad. It’s not quite as precise as Audi’s rotary controller, however.
Is the Lexus NX practical? Its 475-litre boot might be on the small side compared to some bigger rivals but it’s 50-litres bigger than the Audi. There’s no underfloor storage but all models get a space-saver spare wheel, which we think works out better. The boot does get a flat floor, while the loading lip is smooth and improves ease of use.
There’s plenty of room up front for the driver and their passenger but backseat passengers will find things a bit tight. The seats are raised which reduces headroom, and if you add the full-length panoramic sunroof you’ll lose even more headroom.
Audi – £27,910 – £37,900
Lexus – £34,895 – £44,395
Audi Q3 Estate vs Rover Evoque Hatchback
The new Land Rover Range Rover Evoque Hatchback is certainly one of the most stylish cars of this type out there, but it’s definitely not all about handsome looks. It’s got fantastic off-road skills and it can match the likes of a premium-badged Audi when it comes to all-round appeal.
On the road the Land Rover is fun, while off, it’s got your back. It might be a Range Rover but it feels small and drives very much like a Hatchback. The Adaptive Dynamics system costs £800, but it’s an optional extra well worth adding as it improves the car’s composure.
In terms of its engines, the 2.0-litre 286bhp unit is the one to go for if you’re looking for speed and performance. Despite the cars obvious size and weight, this petrol engine can get you from rest to 62mph in 6.0 seconds.
It comes paired up with a 9-speed automatic transmission that suits the car’s regal character, but while it improves fuel economy it doesn’t quite provide the rapid-fire gear changes some buyers might be expecting.
The four-wheel-drive system, meanwhile, arms the Range Rover with some serious off-road ability.
Running costs? The 286bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine returns 37.2mpg at best, while a smaller 237bhp variant of the same engine is good for 38.7mpg. Not much of a difference, while both models emit around 165/km of CO2. The smaller of the two has a BiK rating of 32% while the bigger variant has one of 33%.
Inside, the Evoque might be the cheapest Range Rover you can buy, but it still looks and feels luxurious inside. Leather and metal are used throughout the cabin, the steering wheel and driver’s seat have plenty of adjustability while the suspension setup ensures that comfort is good.
Insulation is also fine and you’ll notice only the merest of wind noises at speed.
Is the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque Hatchback practical? Its interior is spacious, it comes with five doors, and its boot measures 575-litres which makes it 150-litres bigger than the Audi. However, it’s only 575-litres when you load it to the roof. Load it to the parcel shelf and it has a capacity of 420-litres.
Headroom is good in the rear as is legroom, while space upfront is fine. Storage spaces include a large lidded cubby and a few reasonably sized door bins.
Land Rover – £30,760 – £55,585
Verdict of our 2018 Audi Q3 Estate review
The Q2 is now smaller than this one, but the Q3 is still a compact family car that’s not too big and not too small. It’s well packaged, well built and reasonably practical.
Crucially, it also has the desirability factor that sets it apart from its rivals. However, there’s some serious competition in this sector and our verdict on the Audi Q3 Estate is very much that you should add it to your shortlist but test drive its rivals too.
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