The second-generation Audi Q3 competes in one of the toughest segments there is. The BMW X1 is a key rival, but the Q3 also competes for the attention of Motability customers with the new Mercedes-Benz GLA and the impressive Volvo XC40. This new version of the Q3 is cleverer, smarter and more efficient than the one it replaced, but is it enough to convince Motability drivers that it's the best premium SUV to spend their Mobility Allowance on? We find out.
The Audi Q3 is not currently available to order through the Motability Scheme (section updated October 2023).
Sales of five-seat Qashqai-class Crossovers have certainly taken off in recent years. Nor is it only the mainstream brands that are offering us cars of this kind - family hatches with raised ride heights and a dose of SUV-style attitude. The premium makers are at it too, with cars like this one, Audi's desirable second generation Q3.
This model has been a useful seller for the German carmaker since the MK1 model's original launch in 2011, but these days it's facing tougher competition. One of its closest rivals, BMW's X2, has upped its game, Mercedes-Benz also does well in this popular market with its popular GLA model and the more recent Volvo XC40 has already found a ready band of Motability customers. For all these reasons, this Audi needed to evolve - as it did in the MK2 model guise we're going to look at here.
To start with, there are four engine options - three petrol TFSI units and one TDI diesel - with power outputs ranging from 150PS to 230PS, although not all of them are available through the Motability Scheme. All four engines are four-cylinder direct injection units with turbocharging. The most popular version will probably be the '35 TFSI' front-driven derivative, which offers a 150PS 1.5-litre engine that uses the cylinder on demand efficiency system, which temporarily switches off two cylinders at low load. Motability customers can choose between a six-speed manual or a seven-speed S tronic automatic.
For folks still wanting a diesel, there's the '35 TDI', which gets you the usual Audi 2.0-litre TDI powerplant with 150PS.
Adaptive damping is optional, and you can adjust it via the settings of the standard Audi drive select dynamic handling system. Also standard is progressive steering, the ratio of which becomes gradually more direct as the steering angle increases. Hill descent control is also optional, to help you down slippery slopes, should you ever use your Q3 'off piste'.
This second generation Q3 is significantly larger than its predecessor, its 4.48m total length being 97mm longer than the original model. It's also 18mm wider but sits 5mm lower. The styling's more purposeful this time round and the trademark single frame grille is more prominent, with an octagonal design and eight vertical bars. It's flanked by slimmer LED headlamps.
Inside, much of the look and feel is borrowed from the brand's larger models, with a reductive instrument panel divided into two levels, the top part including the air vents and the bottom section the large octagonal area with its black-panel look. There's a fully digital instrument panel and an MMI centre-dash touch display surrounded by high-gloss black trim. The other thing that previous Q3 buyers will notice about the interior is the extra spaciousness on offer, made possible thanks to the 78mm of extra wheelbase added to this second-generation model.
The three-seater rear bench can be moved fore/aft by 150mm and its 40:20:40-split backrest can be tilted in seven stages. Boot capacity totals 530 or 675-litres, depending on the position of the rear seats and backrests. With the backrests completely folded down the figure rises to 1,525-litres. The loading floor can be adjusted in three levels, and the low loading sill of 748 millimetres makes stowing heavy luggage or mobility equipment easier.
The latest Q3 is available to order in Technik, Sport, S Line and Black Edition trim levels. Regardless of the version you choose, you'll get cutting-edge gadgets, including satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring and a smart hybrid radio that automatically switches between FM and digital DAB reception depending on the local signal strength.
Rear parking sensors also come as standard on all trims to help make parking easier.
The Audi Q3 is near the top of its class when it comes to assist systems. Audi Side Assist blind spot monitoring and a lane departure warning function is a neat feature. Plus Audi's 'pre sense front' autonomous braking system is also included. To suit the mood of the moment, there's a bit of autonomous driving tech too, courtesy of the optional adaptive cruise assist, which works with the S tronic auto transmission and incorporates the functions of adaptive speed assist, traffic jam assist and active lane assist.
Fuel economy is pretty respectable across the Q3 range. The 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol (badged 35 TFSI) is the engine most Q3 motability customers will go for, which returns around 43 mpg. The diesel engine is the best for mpg, with the 35 TDI diesel capable of around 48 mpg on a WLTP test.
Audi knows better than most manufacturers that there's never a one-size-fits-all solution to modern motoring, hence the range of options offered by its various Q-series models. This one could well be all the car you actually need. It's a smarter, more up-market take on the current trend towards lifestyle-orientated Qashqai-class five-seat SUVs. Sensible, stylish, fashionable cars are striking the sweet spot in the current market.
As with almost any model of this kind, this one can easily manage the school run, an extended shopping trip or a fancy a weekend away. The difference here though, lies in the quality, the depth of engineering and the sheer feel-good factor that you'll get by having this car on your driveway. Yes, you can certainly order something slightly bigger and SUV-ish for this kind of Motability Advance Payment. But after trying an Audi Q3, we think you probably won't want to.
People with a disability and carers who choose a new Audi Q3 through Motability will receive a brand new car, delivered by a Motability Specialist at a local Audi dealership, complete with insurance, servicing and maintenance, full breakdown assistance, replacement tyre cover, windscreen repair or replacement cover plus a mileage allowance of 60,000 miles over three years.