Audi Q3 - small but perfectly formed

No Caption ABCDE
No Caption ABCDE

The third and smallest of Audi’s SUV line up, the Q3 offers very little in the way of surprise.

Imagine a Q5 after a boil wash and you’re pretty much there.

Choose petrol or diesel, manual or S-tronic, front or four-wheel drive. Audi hopes to have covered every possible base.

The Q3 is launched with a choice of three engines. The petrol units comprise a 168bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol, available in front or four-wheel drive guises, and a 208bhp 2.0-litre that’s only offered in quattro all-wheel drive form.

Benefitting from formidable traction off the line, this 208bhp engine will deliver a sprint to 60mph in just 6.9 seconds.

And with extensive use of aluminium to keep weight down (Audi claims 1500kg for the entry-level car), the Q3 promises decent agility.

Choose diesel and you get a 175bhp version of Audi’s 2.0-litre common-rail engine, with four-wheel drive only.

There’s talk of a 138bhp diesel with a front wheel drive option, but that may well be something to speak to your dealer about.

The Q3 features a number of interesting technical highlights. The seven-speed paddle-shift S-tronic dual clutch gearbox uses a lightweight clutch to disengage the engine and allow the Q3 to freewheel without the drag of turning the engine over when the driver selects efficiency mode.

This comes as a welcome relief after the gloopy trailing throttle feel of many vehicles fitted with regenerative charging systems.

While the bigger Q5 and Q7 models get a heavy duty Torsen-based full-time four-wheel drive system, the Q3 opts instead for the simpler and lighter Haldex multi-plate clutch setup.

You shouldn’t want for grip, however, as this fast-acting system is augmented by an electronic differential lock that works in parallel with the ESP stability control system.

While Audi could be accused of a certain lack of imagination when it comes to the Q3’s styling, it’s a look and feel that customers are accustomed to, which they clearly like and which may well stand the test of time better than more extrovert rivals.

Many customers still have difficulty differentiating an Audi A5 Sportback and an A7 unless they’re parked next to each other and it’s the same story with the Q3. When did Audi become this conservative?

The R8 supercar is probably the only truly visually arresting model in its range and while the Q3 might not feature too many outrageous styling details, it’s a look and feel that many potential buyers will aspire to.

This quietly understated badge of pecuniary advantage features exactly the right engineering to make it fit for its target market.

It’s not an off-roader, instead being a vehicle that easily manage the school run, the extended shopping trip, and the weekend away.

What’s more the small one, despite its low-key detailing, might just be the most desirable of the bunch.