Ah, the Audi Q3. One of those cars that previously failed to register on my radar. That’s not to say it was particularly terrible or offensive, but I just struggled to find anything appealing about it. I thought the ballooned-A1 styling was lazy, while the interior and driving experience were as bland as couscous.
The previous one also felt like it had been on sale for...well, forever, so its replacement in 2018 seemed well overdue.
Now in its second generation, this latest one feels like it’s found the mojo it never had. The old model’s sad-looking face has been replaced with something far more striking and, while the rest of the car looks similar in profile and design, it’s far less dumpy overall.
The front grille is large and dominates the face, but in a good way, and the angular vents and LED light signatures add a touch of aggression.
I'm not sure the design would still feel fresh after another eight years though, should this generation remain on sale for the same length of time.
Which Audi Q3 do we have?
We've got ourselves the best-selling model: the 35 TFSI S line. The lower-emission two-wheel drive version should mean lower running costs over the four-wheel drive Quattro model and the petrol engine means it’s more refined than its diesel counterpart - if you keep it below 4,000rpm that is.
The 35 TFSI engine produces 150hp, but never feels sprightly. If anything it feels a little underpowered and perhaps a little strangled. You can't help but feel a little short-changed with this lacklustre performance when the price-tag is over £33,000; even more so when ours is optioned up to be over £37,500. The PCP finance costs are similarly high.
It might be less thirsty than the 2.0-litre 45 TFSI petrol (that’s the 230hp version to us) on paper, but we’ll soon see if the larger engine is worth paying extra for.
Otherwise, the 1.5-litre TFSI engine and myself have something in common: we’re not too happy about having to physically work hard. And that pretty much sums up the whole car really.
Drive the Q3 in a relaxed manner and you're right in this car’s sweet spot; it’s comfortable, quiet, refined and relaxing. Just like Tom’s A5 long-termer, I don't care about driving fast in it at all - I'll just waft everywhere. Ask any more from it though, and it begins to falls apart (not literally, but dynamically).
We’ve got the smooth-shifting S tronic automatic gearbox and it’s largely impressive. The biggest reservation we have so far is that it needs heavy throttle inputs before it responds. It's fine on the move when it will downchange for you when you need to pick up the pace, but it's way behind our BMW M140i and its telepathic response. The hesitation when setting off at standstill at junctions is what kills it though, even if Audi is not the only manufacturer to suffer from it (Jaguar Land Rover I'm looking at you).
We’ll delve into the options we’ve chosen in the next update but, for now, I’m looking forward to spending some time in something that could while away the miles. It’s not the most exciting car to drive, especially as it serves as the successor to the rapid Peugeot 308 GTi, but that might be a good thing when all you want is a nice place to wind down after a hectic day.
Hopefully it’s not so effective to be sleep-inducing, but for now, it's far more memorable than a Volkswagen Tiguan – a car I only know I've driven due to pictorial evidence.