- Athletic styling with dynamic performance to match
- Low carbon emissions so good for company car drivers
- Tech-packed interior with premium styling
- Limited rear headroom due to tapering roofline
- The ride is quite firm
- Top model gets pricey topping the £50k mark
The Q3 TFSI e is Audi’s first plug-in hybrid model in the compact SUV sector and it is available in two body styles – standard SUV or Sportback which adds coupe styling to the mix.
There is a good selection of trim levels for each style and customers can also select from a number of optional extras that will see the price-tag rise quite steeply.
With an electric-only driving range of between 45 and 50 miles, this plug-in model is ideal for anyone with a short daily commute who may need to travel extra miles at short notice.
On The Road
We opted for the range-topping Q3 Sportback 45 TFSI e S tronic in Vorsprung trim level powered by a 1.4-litre 150PS petrol engine and an 85kW electric motor to generate an output of 245PS and 400Nm of torque.
This hybrid combination results in some impressive performance stats with the vehicle completing the 0-62mph sprint in 7.3 seconds and boasting a top speed that is limited to 130mph.
There is a six-speed S tronic automatic gearbox with steering wheel paddles for added driver engagement, along with drive modes called Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and Individual that alter the mannerisms of the car. Dynamic is the perfect choice when faced with the open road and delivers an edgier, sportier performance.
There are also settings called EV for driving in electric mode; Auto Hybrid to get the most intelligent use of the battery charge; Battery Hold to maintain the existing charge and Battery Charge to boost the available EV miles meaning the car be charged at home or on the go.
The acceleration out the starting blocks is instant and rapid with a constant stream of power on tap at all times. It eats up motorway miles with ease and is great fun to push through the quieter country lanes where the assured grip and direct steering are positive factors.
Every Q3 model apart from the Vorsprung version comes with comfort suspension to offer a more cushioned ride. However, we tested the Vorsprung model so we gained electronically-controlled adaptive suspension with damping control which, according to Audi, smooths out any rough surfaces and straightens out corners more impressively than the standard set-up.
In all honesty, the ride does feel quite firm at times, but I wouldn’t say it is ever uncomfortable. Somehow it matches the sportier design of the car which is what you would expect in a Vorsprung model.
As you move up through the line-up, the wheel size grows. Entry level Q3 cars are fitted with 17-inch alloy wheels, but Vorsprung gain 20-inch designs. These wheels really look the business, but they can make the car feel a little fidgety on rougher road surfaces. They will also have a slight impact on fuel efficiency too.
That said; this powerhouse of a front-wheel drive SUV is a pure delight to drive on twisting B roads where the balance is exceptional in and out of bends with next-to-no sign of body sway. The Adaptive cruise control is easy to operate which is beneficial on motorways where there seem to be endless stretches of roadworks these days.
And with good all-round visibility and light steering, the vehicle is easy to drive in busier city centres with Park Assist helping to make light work of squeezing into tight parking spaces.
The Q3 Sportback TFSI e is available in trim levels called S Line, Black Edition and Vorsprung. If you opt for the standard Q3 body style there is an extra entry-level Technik model too.
The Q3 Sportback TFSI e in Vorsprung guise is definitely a looker thanks to its muscular, quite aggressive styling with an emphasis on black trim. The radiator grille is black, as is the traditional Audi four rings emblem. There are black mirror caps, contrast-coloured bumpers, a rear spoiler, privacy glass and 20-inch alloy wheels. This is a five-door SUV with attitude.
Whichever car you select, it is guaranteed to have plenty of on-board tech to explore. The Vorsprung version, as tested, gains leather upholstery, Matrix LED headlights, a pitch perfect SONOS sound system along with some extra safety features.
The interior styling is premium through and through with soft-touch surfaces, lots of S badging, ambient lighting and a sunroof. There are front sports seats that can be heated and offer four-way lumbar support.
The black theme is just as apparent within the car with black headlining, upholstery, inlays in dark brushed aluminium, gloss black trimmings around the MMI display and a black three-spoke leather steering wheel.
In The Car
Behind the Wheel
Finding the perfect driving position inside the Q3 Sportback 45 TFSI e is a simple process with electrically-adjustable front seats and ample manual movement to the steering wheel. There are memory settings to store favourite driving positions just in case someone else comes along and adjusts everything.
The interior is richly equipped with a 10.1-inch infotainment touchscreen which shows data about the hybrid system along with access to the MMI navigation set-up. The numerous functions can be operated via the touchscreen, steering wheel buttons or voice control.
A three-year subscription to the Audi Connect portfolio is included as standard and this supplements the navigation system with Google Earth mapping, up-to-date traffic information, points of interest details and Car-to-X services for instant details on any hazards, parking spaces, speed restrictions and lots more besides.
Creature comforts include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, a SONOS sound system, DAB radio, a wireless charging pad and dual-zone climate control.
There is also a 12.3-inch Audi virtual cockpit – this display behind the steering wheel can be configured to taste and offers a wealth of information along with vital driving statistics.
Space & Practicality
The Q3 is one of the more compact SUVs on offer from the Audi stable, but its cabin is deceptively spacious. There is ample room up front for a couple of adults to stretch out and even with their seats pushed back, there is a decent amount of knee space in the back.
However, with its tapering roofline, the headroom in the back of the Q3 Sportback is lower than the standard car. This means any taller passengers may find their hair brushing the headlining. It is ideal for two or three youngsters though and there are Isofix fixtures to safely fit child seats.
Storage space is decent enough with a boot, accessed via a powered tailgate, that can hold 380 litres, increasing to 1,250 litres with the split-folding rear seats dropped flat. The maximum luggage space inside the standard Q3 is slightly larger with a 1,375-litre capacity.
Elsewhere there is a lockable glovebox, deep door pockets, front and rear cup holders, a cubby box beneath the front armrest and a secret compartment beside the driver’s right knee.
With its wide opening rear doors there is easy access if fitting a child seat and, with the slightly elevated seating, it is ideal for anyone struggling with mobility issues.
The Q3 Sportback TFSI e can be charged using a domestic wallbox via the Type 2 cable which is supplied as standard. This takes about three hours and 45 minutes. Charging can be remotely controlled using the myAudi app and this can also be used to pre-heat or cool the cabin prior to a journey.
A Type 3 cable is also supplied for charging at public locations via the e-tron charging service.
The Q3 TFSI e line-up in Sportback body style costs from £44,210. Our range-topping Vorsprung version was priced at £50,785 – increased to £51,500 with the addition of Dew Silver metallic paint.
According to official figures under WLTP testing, the car can deliver combined fuel efficiency of 141.2mpg with an electric driving range of 45-50 miles. Clearly this fuel economy figure would only ever be achievable if the car was driven for the majority of the time in EV mode and charged to capacity on a regular basis.
It emits carbon emissions of 45g/km which means it will be exempt from car tax the first year but owners will have to pay the standard fee for hybrid cars of £145 after 12 months. But there are extra costs to factor in as the Government has a tax on cars costing more than £40k with owners having to pay an additional levy of £335 for five years.
For business owners, the test car has a Benefits in Kind rating of 11 per cent and it sits in insurance group 36.
Quality & Reliability
The build quality within the Audi Q3 Sportback TFSI e looks solid and consists of high-end materials throughout. The leather upholstery is premium and all the switchgear feels well built with longevity in mind.
The interior of the Vorsprung model has a lot of black styling and while this may look a little drab, it is very practical especially if you are carrying children in the back.
The touchscreen can get covered in mucky fingerprint smudges, but these are easily wiped clean and all the on-board functions can be accessed via the steering wheel or voice control as an option.
The 1.4-litre petrol engine and electric motor are the same set-up that’s found in the VW Golf GTE along with other models from the VW stable. With that in mind, it has been tried and tested to quite an extensive level and there have been no major issues to date.
Owners have the added peace of mind of a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty.
Safety & Security
Audi’s Q3 was awarded the maximum five stars when tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating and our Sportback TFSI e Vorsprung model was packed with safety features and driver assistance aids.
There is Pre Sense Front that detects vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists up ahead and warns the driver. Other safety features include adaptive cruise assist with emergency assist, Audi side assist blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, hill descent control, a 360-degree camera, hill hold assist, a full suite of airbags and plenty more besides.
There is an alarm system along with immobiliser to deter any would-be thieves.
The Audi Q3 Sportback TFSI e is a fabulous compact SUV that is very well equipped, great fun to drive and covers all the practicality basis too. Adding the plug-in hybrid technology to the mix offers customers extra choice in an ever-increasingly competitive sector.