What’s it like?
The 45 TFSI is far more confidence-inspiring than the 35 TFSI when you go searching for pace with your right foot, thanks to a four-cylinder engine that’s keener to rev and able to deliver its power with far greater urgency. It manages the 0-62mph sprint in a healthy 6.3sec, making for decidedly brisker progress, with significant shove delivered above 3000rpm.
Yet it’s still perfectly relaxed at cruising speeds, aided by electronically controlled dampers that deliver a fluent and relaxed ride over smooth surfaces but don’t make you feel entirely disconnected from the Tarmac. Less forgiving roads can still upset that balance, though, with the large wheels transferring potholes more noticeably inside.
Dynamic driving mode can’t completely eliminate that familiar SUV body roll, but it does help the car hunker down and deliver a consistent, if not quite engaging, ride. There’s always an abundance of grip, which may not lend the Q3 much in the way of driver appeal but does let you carry an impressive rate of speed through corners. The handling is largely calculated and predictable, with quick and accurate steering that doesn’t improve as the various driving modes add more artificial weight to proceedings.
The seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox can be somewhat hesitant to change its own cogs, regardless of the currently selected driving mode, and is keen to shift up in the more relaxed modes so as to achieve respectable fuel economy. Switch into manual mode and changes are much more reactive, with the wheel-mounted paddles responding quickly to your inputs and letting you use significantly more of the rev range.
The driving position suits both styles: the S line sports seats allow for a low-slung angle if you want to feel involved or a taller, more relaxed position when you don’t. The additional space makes it more suited to family transport than the outgoing model, with a useful 530 litres of split-level boot space.
It’s the upgraded dashboard that gives the Q3 its more premium disposition, with the familiar rotary dial ditched in favour of a touchscreen. A small volume dial is the solitary physical infotainment control left on the centre console, but that’s rarely a problem, thanks to useful shortcut buttons on the flat-bottomed steering wheel and a digital instrument display that puts all the information you need within your line of sight.