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Driving Audi's Q3 compact crossover

By Roger St Pierre

Bold, purposeful styling and that now familiar Audi ‘big gob’ grille mark out the new Q3 as a serious premium compact SUV challenger to the likes of the BMW X1, the Subaru Forester, Toyota’s RAV4 and the new Ranger Rover Evoque – all of them very serious sets of wheels.

Does the Audi have an edge? Well, based on the high level of rewarding motoring I enjoyed during my week behind its leather-clad wheel, I’d say yes.

The bigger models in Audi’s Q range have all proved themselves and little brother doesn’t let the family down.

There’s a selection of two petrol and two diesel engines and those prospective buyers with smaller wallets might for once find the principle of less means more will play out in their favour. Being considerably lighter than the Quattro 4x4 versions, the entry-level front-wheel drive 2.0-litre TDi version is more agile and handles better. Additionally, it can manage a frugal 45-mpg in the combined cycle.

The four-cylinder engines combine direct fuel injection with turbo-charging, an energy recovery system and a stop-start function.

The three Quattro versions mate their smooth-running engines to slick seven-speed S-tronic gearboxes.

It doesn’t take up a lot of road space but the Q3’s relatively tall stance means a lot can be packed into the interior. There’s leg, shoulder and head room aplenty, even in the rear – the roof sloping away steeply but not until its last reaches.

Luggage capacity is generous too, making the car ideally suited to long motorway hauls and family motoring holidays – though a downer is that the rear bench does not fold completely flat and the boot lip is rather high.

Driver comfort is enhanced by a steering wheel that adjusts both up and down and fore and aft, while there are ample storage cubbies for the usual clutter.

Readers of Off Road magazine recently voted the Q3 Quattro as ‘Best in Class’ in the ‘Small Off-Road 4x4’ category of the title’s prestigious awards.

Unlike some rivals, Audi offers comprehensive equipment as standard, including an electro-mechanical parking brake and hill hold assist, the Chorus audio system, air-conditioning and a range of restraint systems. Also available is a choice of optional extras garnered directly from the marque’s luxury models. These include an adaptive lighting set-up for the xenon plus headlights, a panoramic glass roof, an LED interior lighting packages and power-adjustable front seats.

Built at Audi-Volkswagen group’s facility in Spain, the Q3 fully meets the company’s usual German design and build quality standards. Prices rage from £24,560 upwards.

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