The Q3 is Audi’s rival to the BMW X1 and the Mercedes GLA in the increasingly crowded crossover market. The Audi Q3 is currently offered with a 2.0-litre diesel or 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine, as well as this – the 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol mill.
Tell me about the engine in the new Audi Q1 1.4 TFSI
This is the 1.4-litre four-cylinder that’s won countless awards and powered VW Group products since the MkV Golf. It’s been the basis a twin-charged engine in other vehicles, but here it has a single turbocharger. It’s intended to lower the Q3’s mpg and emissions while still giving it enough poke to carry a full load and be decent to drive.
What are the numbers?
The 148bhp 1.4-litre is teamed here with a six-speed manual gearbox and front-wheel drive. It’s the most fuel-efficient petrol Q3, with 47.9mpg potential combined economy, and only slightly behind the heavier 2.0-litre turbodiesel’s 54.3mpg. The 9.2sec 0-62mph time makes it 0.7sec faster than the diesel, but a full second behind the 2.0-litre petrol, which only comes with Quattro all-wheel drive. So when it comes to Q3s, it’s middle ground in terms of performance, and just short of the most efficient.
What spec is the test car?
The Q3 comes in two trim levels: SE or the top-spec S-Line. You wouldn’t know by looking at its basic exterior (with the few curves and surfacing that actually are there lost in the black paint’s abyss) that this is the ‘flagship’ S-Line. It comes with 18in alloys, those aluminium roof rails and xenon LED headlamps among the gear, yet the exterior’s still so bland that you may fall asleep before you get a chance to park yourself in one of the excellent seats – not full leather, but leather-bolsters with perforated suede centres – and soak in the tight-fitting, modelling-grey dash.
Typically, everything feels solid, sturdy and is well finished. The steering wheel is the only area where Audi could perhaps give it a more premium feel – add a bit of thickness, we reckon.
What’s it like on the road?
This is actually a fun crossover to drive. Of course, the fact that the Q3 uses the previous model’s Golf/A3 platform means that it retains some of the donor cars’ dynamic talent. Yes, that means the steering isn’t massively communicative or feelsome, and the ride is clunky over bumps – two common Audi criticisms – but that 1.4-litre’s lust for revs and that manual gearbox give it a perkiness that can bring a smile to your face.
The aim was more likely to make the Q3 simple to park –which it is – and the controls easy to operate, but the willingness of the engine and the easy access to a fistful of go is a surprise by-product. You can tap it in traffic, on the motorway, or on a B-road, where the Q3 holds on well and has pretty good traction under load. You can spin the front wheels if you like, but in the wet with ESP off we found it still obeyed our inputs and was controllable and stable.
The 1.4 TFSI has won praise for good reason: it’s an entertaining yet efficient motor. It’s smooth and relatively refined when you’re treading softly, but take it for a run and the party animal emerges. With the Q3 a capable chassis, albeit a little dull in terms of steering and a tad rough on ride quality, its hatch-like character wins you over. It’s not a powerhouse, but blends economy and cost-consciousness in admirable fashion.