Audi Q3 1.4 TFSI CoD SE road test

  • Small crossover reviewed in base SE specification
  • Audi's clever Cylinder-on-Demand engine updated for 2015
  • Priced from £25,340 without the optional extras

Following the 2015 facelift of the Audi Q3 there’s a reinvented version of the excellent 1.4 CoD petrol engine in the range. We’ve been driving it in Germany to find out what’s new.

Updated petrol engine

We’ve been impressed with most applications the clever 1.4-litre TFSI CoD engine has found itself in.

In essence it’s a 1.4-litre, turbocharged petrol powerplant but it’s got some clever technology installed to keep running costs surprisingly low.

Developing 148bhp, and 250Nm of torque between 1,500 and 3,500rpm, it’ll propel the Q3 from 0-62mph in 9.2 seconds with a top speed of 127mph.

While it may not be the performance engine in the range, it is well worth considering for those low mileage customers who value quiet and refined driving.

Thanks to a system which allows the engine to switch off two of its four cylinders when not required, CO2 emissions and fuel economy are good despite the fact it’s powered by petrol rather than diesel.

The real magic is that you’ll never feel it switch the cylinders on or off, though. There’s no indication whatsoever regarding which are in use, the premium manufacturer preferring to just let the tech do its job without intrusion. Your typical Audi buyer doesn’t necessarily want to be seen to be driving an ‘eco’ car - it’s an image thing.

Audi claims an average of 50.4mpg is possible, although we saw closer to 42mpg, and CO2 emissions are down from 137g/km before to 128g/km, meaning one band less in VED car tax (£110 per year rather than £130 at 2014/15 prices) and a significant two percent drop in Benefit-in-Kind taxation for company car drivers.

The other benefit of petrol over diesel is it’s far nicer to drive. The engine itself is quieter at both low and high speeds, and when pressing on it emits a pleasing thrum as opposed to a diesel clatter.

Its power delivery is exceptional too, with crisp throttle response and almost linear acceleration as the revs build.

Slick manual gearbox

Our car was fitted with the standard six-speed manual gearbox. Most Audis we drive nowadays are equipped with automatic S tronic, so it’s a lovely change to drive something with three pedals instead.

And what a joy this particular ‘box is. The quality of the gearknob alone reminds you you’re not in a lesser firm’s vehicle, the throw is the perfect length and it slots into each gear with solid assurance.

The pedals are well-spaced too, which again makes it comfortable and more rewarding to drive.

Extra toys

Audi took the chance on this facelift to add more kit to the Q3’s standard line-up. Bottom-spec SE cars now get the new 3D-effect grille surround see in the pictures along with Xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights and a new design of LED rear lights.

Redesigned bumpers delete the now-unnecessary foglights (which the aforementioned headlights replace), you get new 17-inch wheels and a wider, flatter diffuser for the rear bumper.

There’s also a trio of new colours available – a pair of blue hues and a metallic silver.

Verdict

You couldn’t realistically recommend this car to anyone looking for the ultimate in low running costs. That accolade goes to the significantly more efficient lower-powered diesel engine. That said, this clever petrol unit could make sense if you’re doing less than 6,000 miles per year or the majority of your journeys are short. It’s also better to drive and quieter.

For those reasons it’s the Q3 we prefer, even if it’s not the best on paper.