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Audi Q3: Test Drive Review

Date: 14 July 2011   |   Author: Guy Bird

Category: Small SUV
P11D price: £24,395
Key rival: BMW X1

Audi's quest to fill every available niche has produced another new model in the form of the baby off-roader Q3. Coming in below the Q7 and Q5 models, it offers the good visibility of a high driving position coupled with plenty of interior room and decent economy.

The Q7 mini-me is at first glance a very similar shape to its US-focused biggest brother, but its 70cm shorter package - at just 4385mm long - makes it a much more practical size for navigating and parking in European streets. Look closer in profile and you'll notice the Q3 is more coupe-like with a more sloping rear hatch, while from the front the headlamps are new and distinctive - you'll know if one appears in your rear-view mirror.

Jump inside and Audi's familiar cabin quality story is continued in matte-finish metal, leather and upmarket soft-touch plastic. It's no Range Rover, but the premium space is absolutely fine front and back, even behind six-footers. Luggage space of 460 litres is good and will expand to 1365 with the rear seats folded.

To back up the downsizing point, the car is also being offered with front-wheel drive, low rolling resistance tyres and stop/start engine tech to achieve a range headline 54.3mpg for the expected best-selling 140hp 2.0 TDI manual, while a sub-1500kg weight is ensured through use of aluminium and high-strength steel body panels. Provisional figures from Audi indicate a 138g/km CO2 rating, to keep it safely in a 20% BIK tax band.

This car's performance is also perfectly acceptable - sometimes a bugbear of overly eco-focused models - and only suffers from slightly higher noise and vibration under acceleration compared with its higher-powered 177hp 2.0 TDI diesel Quattro in S-tronic semi-automatic guise. Despite the higher ride height, both feel fundamentally car-like - a world away from wobbly old SUVs. Two Quattro petrols - 170hp and 211hp versions of the 2.0T FSI - launch alongside the 177hp Quattro diesel this November before the front-wheel drive diesel arrives in December. Coming as the new premium downsizing wave gains momentum, the Q3 has 'hit' written all over it.

Audi Q3 SE 2.0 TDI 140hp
P11D price£24,390
Model price range£24,390-£31,360
Residual value45.7%
Depreciation £13,240
Fuel £7132
Vehicle Excise Duty£110
National Insurance£2120
Cost per mile53.0p
Fuel consumption 54.3mpg
CO2 (tax) 138g/km (20%)
BIK 20/40% per month£81/£163
Service interval2yrs/19,000mls
Insurance (1-50)group 18
Boot space (min/max)460/1365 litres
Engine size/power1968cc/140hp
Top speed/0-62mph126mph/9.9secs
On sale Dec 2011