This latest iteration of the popular mini SUV has a plug-in hybrid powertrain which offers a very real world 40km (Audi claims 46km) on a full charge and still has the unleaded tank to fall back on alleviating range anxiety.
Perched on upgraded delicious 19” 5-twin-spoke alloy wheels my test car came in an electric red paint job entitled ‘tango metallic’ that drew lots of rubber necking all week and added a bit of showbiz and bling to the school run.
It helped that it was the sportback TFSI e in the S Line trim so there was a lot of additions compared to the €52k entry-level PHEV Q3.
Standard equipment in all versions includes the Ambient Lighting Pack, a rear spoiler, dynamic headlight range control (self-adjusting while driving), S-line bumpers in full paint finish (body colour), sports seats in front, 3-spoke leather multifunction steering wheel, 2-zone deluxe automatic air conditioning and a whole host of fun and safe features.
Some optional extras you can indulge in include adaptive cruise control (€500), Audi virtual cockpit plus 12.3” (€307), black styling pack (€706), a slightly tweaked flat-bottomed 3-spoke multifunction steering wheel with shift paddles (€287), heated front seats (€435), privacy glass (€513), rear-view camera (€526), ambient lighting package (€128) and a big ask but they are gorgeous…19” 5-arm secare, matte black alloy wheels at €3,419.
All in that means that the €52k car is now a €60k car which will inevitably scare a lot of potential buyers off. But what you have to recognise here is that it comes with a premium badge on the slick sporty grille. And when a premium German badge is present there is an automatic higher quality of fittings and fixtures.
It’s a stunning comfortable and perfectly safe drive, even fun at times when you floor it. If speed isn’t your thing you will also like to know that it loves cornering as it soaks up twists and bumps with ease turning mundane school runs and urban commutes into exciting drives. And when you consider that this PHEV version has a firmer suspension than the regular ICE version it is still very impressive.
There’s lots of grip spread evenly between the front and rear axles to give you confidence when cornering, which a lot of other cars in the genre can’t boast.
Once you have your seat and steering wheel in your desired position (there are lots of variables by the way) you are greeted by a lovely 10.25 inch Virtual Cockpit digital instrument display replacing the brand’s conventional analogue dials with a highly configurable full colour display that can show lots of useful information just below your sightline.
The reversing camera is really good and I so wish it was ‘as-standard’ but I still feel at €526 it is still worth a pop no matter which trim level you are buying.
Head room is generous, the seats slide back a long way to maximise leg room and the interior feels surprisingly wide and spacious. The Q3 feels like a proper SUV in the rear (even in the sportback version) and each rear passenger gets a door bin big enough to hold a whole host of supplies for your kids for long journeys.
And even though there is a battery to power the PHEV version you still get a huge boot, which can be aided the very user-friendly sliding rear seats. Just shift them forward and the boot expands effortlessly.
This is a well-made cleverly thought out medium sized SUV that is regularly compared to the likes of the X1 or the XC40. It has so much going for it and now that it comes in a PHEV form it is even more appetising to the Irish public. I just wish it was a few Euro cheaper, although I reckon loyal Audi drivers won’t worry too much about the asking price.