New Audi Q3 first drive

The second generation Audi Q3 arrives in Australia.

Bigger, more sophisticated and brimming with new equipment and technology, the second-generation Audi Q3 has arrived in Australia and is already right at home.

James McRory

Ian Dyk, Mike Kennedy and Kellen Bush

11 October, 2019

The first thing you notice when you see the new Audi Q3 up close is how much bigger it looks than the very successful first generation model. This is no optical illusion, despite the markedly revised styling, what was once the baby in the Audi Q family has certainly grown up both inside and out, and those looking for a vehicle in the premium compact SUV segment will be well pleased with just how the Q3 has matured across the board.

The Australian launch of the Q3 is spearheaded by the Q3 35 TFSI, a front-wheel drive model powered by a four-cylinder 1.4 litre direct injection petrol engine delivering 110kW and 250Nm of torque, through a six-speed S tonic transmission.

This model will be joined later by other variants in the new year, with larger power plants and quattro permanent all-wheel drive, as well as the all-new Audi Q3 Sportback, which brings the coupe-like styling to the segment for the very first time.

The new Q3 adheres to the conventional SUV design, but the new styling approach is a significant departure from the first model, bringing with it the now familiar elements of the new Audi design language. Overall it’s more aggressive and assured than its predecessor, from the Singleframe grille in octagon design,  matrix LED headlights to the strong shoulder line that emphasises the large wheel arches over 18 or 19-inch wheels. The rear lights mirror the front treatment to tie the whole package into a strong, very capable looking SUV.

The styling of the new Q3 is a significant departure from the first generation and the model is bigger in almost all respects

Clever design elements abound inside, from new storage solutions to a more versatile rear seating arrangement

Bigger, bolder and with significantly more presence.

It certainly has grown over the previous model – 97mm longer, 18mm wider with a wheelbase stretched 77mm on the previous model. In fact the only dimension that hasn’t grown is the height, which is 5mm lower, and in concert with the long roof edge spoiler and heavily raked D pillars, further accentuates the width and very solid stance. It adds up to a huge win visually.

The effects of the larger body translate to significantly more interior room for up to five occupants and their luggage (530 and 1525 litres with the rear seats down), and that space is more user friendly thanks to a number of clever innovations. The rear seats can be moved forward or back by 150mm and can be split thanks to their three-way backrests 40:20:40, as well as be tilted in seven stages. 

The floor in the loading bay can be adjusted in two levels and the parcel shelf can be taken out completely and stowed underneath the floor for when it’s needed. And, for those days when your arms are full of gear and you can’t reach your key, an electric tailgate, which can be operated with a kicking motion, comes as standard.

The interior of the new Q3 has also been completely redesigned and draws heavily on the much larger models in the Audi line-up in terms of its finish, layout and extensive technology and equipment. 

Most obvious is the central MMI touch display which has become an Audi staple and provides the command centre for the vehicle systems as well as forming part of the interior design. This comprises a 10.25-inch screen, which the driver operates using the multifunction steering wheel and there is also a 10.1-inch touch display in the middle of the dashboard. This functions like a smartphone, allowing fast, easy operation that is as intuitive as using… well, a smartphone.

Voice control is standard equipment and for those opting for the top-of-the-line treatment, the data transfer module supports the LTE Advanced standard with integrated Wi-Fi hotspot for the passengers’ mobile devices. So, effectively everyone on board and the Q3 itself are fully connected.

Indeed there’s no shortage of tech available for the new Q3, which takes connectivity and infotainment in this sector to new heights. Everything from Google Earth to Audi smartphone interface and hybrid radio to the superb Bang & Olufsen sound system and inductive phone charging all featuring among the offerings.

Like the larger models in the Audi range, the Q3 now boasts the sort of connectivity that can find you a car space, keep an eye on the weather for you, plan a route based on prevailing traffic conditions or let you download a destination direct from your phone.

There’s no shortage of tech available for the new Q3, which takes connectivity and infotainment in this sector to new heights

Bigger though it may be, the new Q3 retains its nimble feel from behind the wheel

Technology also abounds in the safety and driver assistance departments, with an impressive array of systems available that afford peace of mind. From 360-degree cameras and park assist, Audi side assist, active lane assist and Audi pre sense, to adaptive cruise control – incorporating adaptive speed assist, traffic jam assist and active lane assist – pretty much the full suite from the larger models is available for the new Q3.

One area though where the new Q3 doesn’t feel bigger is from behind the wheel – and that’s a good thing. There’s nothing bulky or ungainly about the new model, even though its dimensions have increased markedly. It retains its composure beautifully on even the most chopped up B-roads, and the suspension with damper control  – which adjusts damping to the conditions –makes for an even smoother ride again.

The absence of quattro on the Q3 35 TFSI launch model was no issue its planted, surefooted feel never compromised on broken surfaces even at speed and the steering light enough not to be intrusive, but providing plenty of feedback to engage the driver.

Standard additions like the hill descent will come in handy across a variety of terrain, maintaining a preset speed on a steep hill, and the ability to control driving dynamics through the Audi drive select only increases the flexibility of the Q3 and provide even greater engagement for the driver.

Back in 2012, this author took the then new, first generation Q3 from Adelaide to Uluru – and (what was then) the baby of the Audi Q family delivered in spades. Despite some raised eyebrows and a few almost mocking looks from a few folk along the way, the Q3 was unstoppable. ‘What was a compact luxury SUV doing out there’ anyway?. As incredible as that country might be, there’s many a pitfall awaiting a vehicle not up to the task, and many scoffed at the idea of anything but a dedicated off-roader tackling much of the trip.

Yet with absolutely no special vehicle preparation, the Q3 gobbled up what is a long and fairly unforgiving part of the country, and did it in style.

Now, this new Q3 resets the bar across the board and it’s a fair bet that seven years after that first outback journey, there would be no raised eyebrows at its appearance in that part of the world.

The new Audi Q3 marks a strong addition to the Audi Q family, which has forged an enviable reputation in the luxury SUV ranks, both here and internationally. Entering the Aussie market at $46,400* it delivers in every conceivable area and then some. Back road, no road, city and commute –  it takes them all in stride. Add to that the level of new technology and refinement, and there’s no doubting the new Q3 will appeal to an even broader market than ever before.

A special Launch edition of the Q3 35 TFSI will also add even more spice, with $10,000 worth of additional equipment over the standard Q3 35 TFSI for $52,750*.

Indeed Q3 customers will be spoilt for choice when the additional model variants arrive in the new year, with the 2.0 TFSI quattro version and the Q3 Sportback joining the Australian line-up.

Then, later in the year, the Rennsport models – the RS Q3 and RS Q3 Sportback – will make themselves seen and heard on Australian roads and we add yet another dimension to this exciting SUV category.

(*Manufacturer List Pricing [MLP] – excludes dealer delivery and government statutory charges)                 

Back road, no road, city and commute –  the new Q3 takes them all in stride