Audi’s attractive Q3 plug-in hybrid can match key rivals in its category — but the savings on the road may not be enough to justify the high price writes Geraldine Herbert
What is it? These days, there seem to be two kinds of motorists — those who drive an SUV and those who want to drive one. They now make up over 50% of new cars sold, and sales show no signs of slowing down. our test car, the Audi Q3 TFSI e — a plug-in hybrid with up to 50km of pure electric driving — aims to tap into this lucrative segment and is just one of a host of electric cars offered by the brand.
What are my options? The 2022 Q3 comes in two varieties: a regular SUV or a Sportback version with coupé styling. Both are available with a choice of two trim levels, SE and S-Line.
Is it a looker? Our test car came in the S-Line, which adds a more rugged styling package combined with silver metallic paintwork, and will look good in any driveway. But don’t be fooled by its robust looks; this is a car for those who like to tackle shopping centres, not sand dunes
What’s the interior like? Inside, it’s understated and well built, and it takes only seconds to fully orient yourself to the intuitive cabin. As expected from Audi, creature comforts abound; extra options on our car included the Audi virtual cockpit plus 12.3in digital display, heated front seats and a rearview camera. Space is good in the front and there is room for five, but the sloping roofline reduces headroom in the rear.
What does it drive like? The plug-in hybrid combines a 1.4-litre petrol engine with an electric motor, so if your daily commute falls within a 50km range, you could do it all while enjoying the silence of zero emission driving. For many, plug-in hybrids offer the perfect stepping stone to going fully electric, and allow long journeys to be planned around scenic locations rather than having to co-ordinate coffee breaks with fast chargers in mind. But they do come with a downside; to fully benefit, you will need to charge them nightly and when the electric charge is gone, you pay the price for the additional weight of the battery in fuel consumption. Press the starter button and there is barely an audible rumble from the engine, while on the road, handling is responsive. The Q3 is well suited to daily driving.
How safe is it? The Audi Q3 comes with a host of cutting-edge assistance systems; from parking, to lane assist, to detecting pedestrians and cyclists
Will it break the bank? The Sportback range starts from €44,420 — €1,000 more than the standard Q3 — and the plug-in version is priced from €50,115. The addition of a host of optional extras pushed our test-car price to a hefty €62,507. Direct rivals include the Volvo XC40 T5 Recharge (€51,440), Jaguar E-Pace (€70,896) and Range Rover Evoque (€69,770) but the Hyundai Tucson (€41,295), Peugeot 3008 (€42,500) and Volkswagen Tiguan (€52,205) are also worth considering — while Skoda’s Octavia (€ 44,565) makes a refreshing, practical alternative to our current infatuation with SUVs.
Verdict? Plug-in hybrids offer considerably more savings than regular hybrids but are pricier, and it’s often hard to justify the extra cost in terms of actual savings achieved. If you are considering one, don’t discount an all-electric model, particularly if you have your own driveway or easy access to a charger. There is a lot to like about the Audi Q3. Given the mix of high-quality cabin and comfort, it is a capable all-rounder. But the plug-in version is a pricey option. An alternative might be the all-electric Audi Q4 e-tron (€48,805) and say goodbye to petrol pumps forever.
Volvo XC40 T5 Recharge
Range Rover Evoque
Why you’ll buy one? Space, comfort
Why you won’t? Pricey
Audi Q3 Sportback TFSI e
Starting Price: €50,115
Engine: 1.4-litre petrol/ plug-in electric hybrid
Transmission: 6-speed/S tronic
CO2/Motor Tax: 38-45g/km/€140
Electric range: 46-50km
18th July 2021