A Wheel Thing continues its run of SUV style vehicles, with the addition of the 2016 Audi Q3, complete with grunty 1.4L TSFI engine and six speed “S Tronic” auto. Oh, TFSI is shorthand for turbo fuel stratified injection, a fancy pants way of saying it’s direct cylinder injection with better atomisation of the fuel and turbo or supercharged….
It’s a cracker powerplant, with oodles of torque for a small engine when on boost (250 Nm from 1500 to 3500) but if it’s not, it hesitates and leaves the driver wondering. Peak power is a surprisingly low 110 kW between 5000-6000 revs. To be honest, in day to day driving, with the tractability of the engine, there’s no real need to see those revs.
Audi’s fuel consumption figure quotes 5.9L per 100 km (combined), from the 64 litre tank filled with 95 RON. A Wheel Thing saw an average of 6.7L in predominantly city style traffic with some thirty kilometre freeway runs to add to the mix. It’s 5.1L/100 for the highway and 7.1L/100 for a city cycle.
When in just the right part of the rev range, the acceleration of the Q3 is startling, it certainly feels quicker than the 8.9 (auto, 9.2,manual) seconds to 100 klicks that Audi quotes, and it’s quite easy to trip the traction control on a damp surface. It’s a good long, linear feel as well, but once over 3500 seems to run out of steam somewhat. But given that the smallish looking Q3 has a starting weight of 1480 kg (petrol auto variant), it’s more than decent.I say smallish, as it’s a compact 4388 mm in length, has a 2603 mm wheelbase and is a wide 1831 mm wide. In true SUV style for a height adjusted hatch, it’s 1603 mm tall and rolled on 235/50 rubber, wrapping ten spoke alloys. It’s not unhandsome, with laser white LED lit strips bisecting the headlight cluster, fitted with xenon lights or LED’s as an option.In profile it’s much the same as the A3 five door, full of curves, gentle slopes, Audi’s signature grille and an easy to lift rear gate. Access and exit are easy thanks to wide opening doors and the cabin’s ambience…..this is where ergonomics stopped at the door, it would seem. Aircon controls are down low, low that you can NOT but help but take your eyes off the road.Think lower or level with the top of the gear selector. Above them is the buttons for items such as Parking Assistance and Hill Descent Assist, with the traditional buttons and twirl knob for Audio, Navigation and more visible on the screen that folds into the dash. The twirl knob is multipurpose; spin to select which first menu item, then push and follow the prompts from there.The driver faces a simple dashboard; two dials for speed and rev counter with fuel and temperature inside, bisected by a monochrome information screen, common throughout the family. There’s also a comfortable look to the tiller as well, with the buttons for Bluetooth and audio and the thickness of the wheel itself all feeling familiar to the hands. Plastics are of good quality and reasonably non reflective in the windscreen.
Seats were, as expected, comfy, although manually adjusted. The starting procedure was old school twist key, with both of those options, as a result, out of place in a world where a Hyundai Tucson Elite has electric seats and push start. At least the back of the front seats had netting for storage, rather than nothing or a somewhat restrictive pocket.
Back out on the road, it’s well damped in the suspension, absorbing freeway ripples with ease. The steering ratio is quick enough to give instant response and makes parking easy. But, being electrically assisted, like so many it seems over assisted and could be seen to be perhaps too much so for certain buyers.
In the roundabout test, it held on well with no push understeer and minimal tyre squawk. Under brakes (great brakes, too) dive is minimal and car control is easily handled. The drive system is predominantly front wheel drive, with a multiplate clutch that sends drive to the rear on demand.
There’s plenty of tech onboard, as you can imagine. Blind spot monitoring, lane assist, parking assist, reverse camera and airbags aplenty. It’s all integrated and easy to use when needed and there when you need it and hopefully never do.
At a starting price of $42900 plus ORCs (just over $48K driveaway in NSW), it could be said the Q3 is good value. It is. Economy is better than good, ride quality is fine enough and it’s not unattractive to look at. However, that centre console ergonomic is not quite at a level that feels comfortable nor safe. Compared to some of its opposition, they’d be a safer bet. In that $48K you get Audi’s 3 year/unlimited kilometre warranty and the option of Audi’s service plan.
For information and pricing on the range: Audi Q3