Audi Q3 (2012-2018) Review

The Audi Q3 is good to drive, roomy and cheap to own - once you've paid the initial price

Strengths & weaknesses

  • Good choice of powerful and economical engines
  • Looks and feels well made
  • Well-rated for safety and reliability
  • Little off-road capability
  • Expensive options list
  • Many rivals are cheaper

Audi Q3 prices from £13,400   Finance from £225.58 per month

The Audi Q3 takes the mechanical parts of the Audi A3 hatchback and blends them with the higher driving position of an off-roader.

The resulting crossover, also known as a small SUV (sport-utility vehicle), is a practical choice, with a high roof and enough legroom for adults to sit comfortably in the back.

The boot, which is bigger than a VW Golf’s, can swallow the weekly shop with space to spare and the back seats fold to create more load room. There are plenty of handy storage spaces sprinkled around the cabin and even the glovebox is air-conditioned to keep snacks cool.

Those aren’t the reasons why you’ll order the Audi over similarly-sized crossovers such as the Renault Kadjar, Nissan Qashqai and Kia Sportage, which are around £5,000 cheaper, though.

Audi justifies the Q3’s price premium with quality materials, powerful, efficient engines, and its trademark restrained design.

Inside, the Q3 is a cut above some of its mainstream competition. It feels well-made with plastics that are soft to the touch and dashboard functions controlled with a rotary dial that’s straightforward to operate with little distraction while you’re on the move.

It’s quiet, comfortable and steady - without too much leaning in corners: a combination of features that are fiendishly difficult to engineer into a tall crossover.

When it first went on sale in 2011, the Q3 was at the top of its class but rivals have since caught up. These include the new VW Tiguan, which offers much of the smooth ride and upmarket feel of the Q3 for considerably less.

The BMW X1 does the same, and also feels sporty to drive, while the Mercedes GLA has a luxurious interior that’s more than a match for the Audi.

There’s also the Range Rover Evoque which is more expensive but - like the Q3 - holds its value well, which helps make financing or leasing the car more manageable. The Evoque can also tackle rough conditions off-road, which would leave the Audi stranded, even if it was one of the models fitted with quattro four-wheel drive.

As well as the family-focused models, Audi also sells the RS Q3, a high-performance version, that adds sportscar acceleration.

Key facts

Warranty 3 years
Boot size 420 litres
Width 1831mm
Length 4388mm
Height 1608mm
Tax (min to max) £30 to £145

Best Audi Q3 for...

Best for Economy – Audi Q3 SE 2.0 TDI

Riding on the SE’s smaller 17in wheels and being only two-wheel drive, this version does 62.8mg while road tax is just £30. This basic trim is sufficiently well equipped for most people, too. It only lacks a sat-nav.

Best for Families – Audi Q3 S line Plus 2.0 TDI 184 quattro S tronic

With 179bhp and four-wheel drive this version has all the power and grip you could wish for to keep your family out of trouble. It’s economical too, while S line Plus brings a sat-nav.

Best for Performance – Audi RS Q3 2.5 TFSI quattro S tronic

There is a slightly faster version of this called the Performance but this ‘standard’ RS Q3 is quick enough. Despite the car’s high stance, it handles well, too, although the ride is very much on the firm side.

One to Avoid – Audi Q3 S line Plus 2.0 TFSI quattro

The 2.0 TFSI is outshone by the powerful and efficient diesels in the Q3 line-up. It’s only available with four-wheel drive (which pushes up the price) and because it’s not as sought-after TDI versions, doesn’t hold its value as well.


  • 2011 Audi Q3 launched 
  • 2013 High-performance Audi RS Q3 with 2.5 TFSI engine launched.
  • 2014 Audi Q3 1.4 TFSI joins the line-up in two-wheel drive only. New S line Plus specification brings trim count to three.
  • 2014 Audi Q3 range upgraded. Engines now cleaner and more powerful.

Understanding Audi Q3 names

Trim level S Line

The Audi Q3 is available in three trim levels (SE, S line and S line Plus), each bringing rising levels of equipment and larger wheels (17-19in). Only S line and S line Plus have badges that identify their trim level.

Engine 2.0 TDI 184

Audi Q3 diesel engines are badged TDI. Pewtrol versions carry the letters TFSI. The figure 184 refers to the engine’s power output in horsepower.

Driven wheels quattro

Quattro is Audi's term for four-wheel drive.

Audi Q3 Engines

1.4 TFSI, 2.0 TFSI, 2.5 TFSI, 2.0 TDI 150, 2.0 TDI 184

The Q3 is blessed with a range of powerful and efficient petrol and diesel engines. The only fly in the ointment is the 2.0 TFSI. It’s not especially economical and although it’s quick (0-60mph takes 7.6 seconds) it’s not as rounded a performer as its diesel equivalent, the much more economical 2.0 TDI 184.
Which leaves the remaining two petrol engines. For everyday driving, the 1.4 TFSI is the star here. It’s smooth, surprisingly punchy and, as long as you watch your speed, comes close to matching the diesels for economy. The 2.5 TFSI in the RS Q5 is another thing altogether. This engine is less about economy (although it’s not bad) and more about performance. It’s 0-60mph time isn’t far short of a supercar’s.
Back in the real world, though, the 2.0-litre diesel engines are where the smart money goes. The least powerful, the 2.0 TDI 150, is pretty much all you need for undemanding, everyday driving but if you do lots of long journeys with everyone plus the kitchen sink on board, you’ll need the more powerful 2.0 TDI 184. It’s a real mile-muncher that can cruise comfortably all day but get a move on when the occasion demands, and it’s almost as economical.





0 - 60

top speed

TFSI 1.4


47.9 – 51.4mpg


8.9 – 19.2s


TFSI 2.0


40.4 – 42.8mpg



102 - 110mph

TFSI 2.5






2.0 TDI 150


53.3 - 62.8mpg


9.3 - 9.6s


2.0 TDI 184


50.4 – 54.3mpg




Audi Q3 Trims

SE, S line, S line Plus, RS

The Audi Q3’s trim levels are easy to get your head around. There are just three, kicking off with the basic SE which is very well equipped but lacks a sat-nav. Next up is mid-spec S line which has a few non-essential fripperies and isn’t really worth bothering with. It also brings optional firmer suspension at no extra cost that does nothing for the ride and is best avoided. The third trim is called S line Plus. This is a significant improvement on SE. It has the all-important sat-nav, a visual parking aid called Parking System Plus that monitors the front and rear of the vehicle, cruise control and automatically dipping headlights.
Regardless of trim level, all Q3s have alloy wheels (they get larger with each trim but the SE’s smaller 17in wheel contributes to better fuel economy and provides a more comfortable ride), dual-zone climate control, a digital radio and sports front seats with electric lumbar support.
The RS Q3 is a trim level in its own right. Think S line Plus with a sporty bodykit and you won’t be far wrong.

Audi Q3 Reliability and warranty

The Audi Q3 feels exceptionally well made, a fact that saw it rank 7th for build quality in the 2015 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey. The model didn’t quite scale the same heights in terms of reliability, however, achieving a – still impressive – 18th place.
The Audi Q3 has a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty. That’s the same limit as Volkswagen’s but not as generous as BMW’s, which also lasts three years but has no mileage limitation. However, most drivers are unlikely to keep their new Q3 longer than three years or cover more than 20,000 miles a year so for them, Audi’s warranty should be sufficient.
If you intend keeping your Q3 for longer, it is possible to buy an extended warranty either at the outset or before the standard warranty expires.

Used Audi Q3

The Audi Q3 is a premium vehicle with a strong image. These qualities mean it’s in strong demand not only as a new car but also as a used one. As a result, it holds its value very well. Diesel versions are the most-prized but that just means you can scoop up a bargain in the shape of the quietly impressive but overlooked 1.4 TFSI. Buyers tend to push the boat out at this level so 2.0 TDI 184 S line Plus quattro S tronic versions are reasonably common and hold their value exceptionally well. However, humbler Audi Q3 SE 2.0 TDI 150 versions in two-wheel-drive and with an attractive sprinkling of options – chief among them a sat nav – are plentiful and an affordable route to premium SUV motoring.
The quattro badge is a nice thing to have on your Audi Q3 but it’s worth asking yourself if you need four-wheel drive. The standard car is grippy enough while quattro versions are more expensive both to buy and to run.


List price

BuyaCar new

1 year old

2 years old

3 years old

Best for performance







Audi RS Q3 2.5 TFSI quattro S tronic







Best for families







Audi Q3 S line Plus 2.0 TDI 184 quattro S tronic







Best for economy







Audi Q3 SE 2.0 TDI







Other Editions

Q3 (2018)

The new Audi Q3 offers enough space, tech and comfort that you'll be reconsidering a bigger Audi

Q3 Sportback (2019)

Fancy an upmarket medium SUV but one that turns up the sportiness dial? The Q3 Sportback could be for you – but it comes at a price