Audi Q3 2011-2018 review

Open gallery Close by Vicky Parrott 23 July 2013 Follow @@VickyParrott Share

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The Audi Audi Q3 is so well built and its styling so evolutionary that you have to ask yourself why you’d buy a brand-new model on the road when you could have an example of its 2011-2018 Audi Q3 predecessor, for a fraction of the price.

The answer might be because the used one hasn’t got the latest infotainment technology and isn’t as efficient, because it has done 85,000 miles and because it no longer smells so nice. Still, all that image, quality and cash in the bank…

Mechanically, the Q3 has a lot in common with a regular hatchVicky ParrottDeputy reviews editor

The Q3 was launched in 2011. It was one of a small number of premium, compact SUVs, the others including the BMW X1 and Range Rover Evoque. Next to the Evoque, the Q3 looked fairly bland but in a way that suggested effortless quality, an attribute that has served it well. It’s about the size of an Audi A3 but the rear is more cramped, and although the boot appears big on paper at 460 litres, it not that usable a space, so test it out first.

From launch, engines were the traditional mix of diesels and petrols, and until the 1.4 TFSI’s arrival in 2014, all of them were 2.0 litres. The lower-powered petrols have always been front-wheel drive only but their diesel equivalents are a mix of that and quattro four-wheel drive. More powerful Q3s are all quattro. The four-wheel drive system aids traction on slippery roads but forget straying too far from your picnic spot: the Q3 has too much fancy body addenda to risk going far off road.

Transmissions are a choice of a six-speed manual or the S tronic seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. The S tronic gearbox suits the Q3, a car that’s best enjoyed at a trot rather than a gallop.

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The 2015 facelift brought new technology, including cylinder on demand (COD) for the 1.4 TFSI and slightly more power for the 2.0-litre petrol and diesel units. All engines were cleaned up to meet Euro 6 emissions regs. As for styling, the nose and tail were given a makeover while SE trim got xenon headlights and S line sweeping indicators.

Related Audi Q3 2011-2018 reviews

Audi Q3 1.4 TFSI S-line first driveAudi Q3 2.0 TDIAudi Q3 2.0 TFSIAudi Q3 2.0 TDI SEAudi Q3 2.0 TDI quattro

However, viewed in isolation, you’d be hard pressed to tell pre- and post-facelift cars apart. Of the four trims – depending on the year, they range from SE to Black Edition – SE offers the best value and goes without the larger, ride-spoiling alloy wheels and sports suspension.

BUYER BEWARE

Engine On diesel models, check the level of the engine oil. Too high may indicate regeneration issues with the diesel particulate filter. Whatever the level, take the car for an extended, medium-speed drive to see if you can trigger limp-home mode, if it happens suggesting DPF issues caused by insufficent higher speed journeys. Owner surveys report that petrol engines are more reliable than diesels. That said, a batch of 2017-reg 2.0 TFSI engines had camshaft problems. 

Wheels Audi recommends that on four-wheel drive versions, the tyres, ideally premium, are the same make.

Body Make sure the xenon headlights don’t flicker. Also, where high beam assist and lane assist are fitted, that the headlights don’t dazzle oncoming drivers. Check rear wheelarch mouldings are secure. 

Interior Check the windscreen demister works.

Need to know

Q3 petrol models rank third in the 2019 What Car? Reliability Survey’s family SUV class, behind the Volvo XC40 and Kia Sportage. Diesel Q3s trail in 15th spot.

Some early Euro 5 2.0 TDI engines were caught up in the VW emissions scandal, or the ‘EA189 NOx emissions issue’ as the VW Group calls it. Check the status of the vehicle you’re interested in at audi.co.uk.

Make sure tall family members can fit in the back. The roofline is more sloping than it appears and impinges on head room.

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