The new-generation 2020 Audi Q3 has finally arrived after a gap of almost 12 months. The previous model sold out too soon and its replacement took a little longer than expected.
Audi was so keen to reintroduce its city SUV locally that at some considerable cost, it air-freighted the first 20 cars from Europe to Australia for special preview events.
The first batch of customer cars are due to arrive in November before production ramps up for 2020.
Initially, there is just one model: the Audi Q3 35TFSI priced from $46,400 plus on-road costs, an increase of $3000 over the previous model. With options the price can eclipse $53,000.
Audi says the price rise is relatively modest given the new-generation Q3 has extra equipment valued at $12,000 as standard.
The interior comes with a 10.25-inch digital widescreen instrument cluster and a 10.1-inch central touchscreen for the infotainment system. Other mod cons such as wireless phone charging (with a tray large enough for a big smartphone with a bulky case) and a powered tailgate are also standard fare.
While it may look familiar, it has grown in every dimension compared to its predecessor – to 4484mm (length), 1856mm (width), 1616mm (height) and 2680mm (wheelbase). It’s almost the next class size up.
One downside to the growth spurt: the turning circle has increased to 11.8m, the same as a Mitsubishi Triton ute.
Every body panel is new, and distinguished by sharp creases inside and out. It’s a fresh design and should age well.
The Q3 delivers the usual SUV attributes: taller driving position, roomier cabin, generous cargo area and a higher 'hip point', making it easier to get in and out of the car.
As with most Audis, the interior is extremely practical, with large door pockets front and rear, and a decent-size glovebox, although the centre console is small.
The charging points in the front cabin include a standard USB and one USB-C port, while back seat passengers have a choice of two USB-C ports and one 12V socket.
The rear camera – and optional 360-degree cameras – provide a clear and sharp display on the high-resolution screen. Dual-zone air-conditioning is standard.
Safety tech includes seven airbags, autonomous emergency braking, blind-zone warning, rear cross-traffic alert, door exit warning, lane-keeping assistance and tyre pressure monitors.
Visibility all around is excellent thanks to the relatively large window area – a rarity in many modern cars.
The new Q3 is one of the roomiest vehicles in its segment, both in terms of back seat space (where there is ample foot room under the front seats) and the cargo hold.
The standard back seats have a 60/40 split, but a 40/20/40 split is optional. In both configurations, the backrests tilt in up to seven positions – and the back row can be slid forward up to 15cm for extra cargo space.
There are two ISOFIX child restraint mounting points and three top tether points, so you can fit a non-ISOFIX child seat in the middle position if required.
One odd omission: there are no map pockets on the back of the front seats.
The rear cargo floor is 90cm in length and 100cm wide at its narrowest point, and the tailgate has a 93cm opening. There are four tie-down points to secure bulky loads, though there is no 12V power supply to the boot.
According to the brochure, cargo space has increased by 70L to 530L with the back seat in its rearmost position (versus 615L for the Volkswagen Tiguan).When the Audi Q3’s back row is slid forward 15cm, cargo space increases to 675L (215L more than before).
With the back seats folded flat, there’s 1525L of cargo space (versus 1655L for the Volkswagen Tiguan and 1775L for the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace). There’s a space-saver spare tyre under the boot floor.
Routine service intervals are 12 months/15,000km, and while individual capped-price servicing is not available, pre-paid packs are available for three years ($1610) and five years ($2590).
Warranty is three years/unlimited kilometres, which is the same as BMW and Mercedes, but less than mainstream brands – including Audi's sister brand Volkswagen – which offer five-year warranty coverage or more.
On the road
The Q3 35TFSI sold in Australia is powered by a 1.4-litre turbo four-cylinder petrol engine (110kW/250Nm) matched to a six-speed twin-clutch auto driving the front wheels. The fuel consumption average is 7.2–7.3L/100km depending on options.
In Europe, the same badge is attached to a Q3 powered by a 1.5-litre turbo four-cylinder with the same output (110kW/250Nm) and matched to a seven-speed auto and front drive. Despite the slightly bigger engine, the European version has new-generation engine technology that sips just 5.9L/100km.
Translation: Audi has given Australian customers a less advanced engine than what is at its disposal globally.
Other, more powerful petrol engines matched to all-wheel drive are due to be added to the Q3 range in 2020, but diesel has been ruled out. The new-generation petrol engines are more efficient than before, plus diesel only accounted for five per cent of sales of the previous model.
On the road, the Q3 is relatively quiet and refined. The steering can feel a bit too light at first, but you soon get accustomed to it. This also makes it easier to manoeuvre the Q3 at low speeds and when parking.
The suspension feels taut over bumps – not too busy and not too floaty – and the steering is impressively responsive. The 1.4-litre turbo engine feels surprisingly spritely, even though the official 0–100km/h claim is 9.3 seconds (a bit quicker than a Toyota Corolla).
The six-speed twin-clutch auto is generally a smooth operator, but does have the trademark delay on take-off typical of this type of transmission.
There are a few notable things missing: there are no paddle shifters on the steering wheel; there’s no speed sign recognition tech; and, quite bizarrely, the radar cruise control can only be adjusted in 10km/h increments. At least the standard cruise control can be adjusted in 1km/h increments.
Overall, though, the new Audi Q3 is an impressive effort – if you’re prepared to pay close to, or in excess of, $50,000 once some option packs are ticked.