Audi is a company with a talent for making motoring journalists feel a little silly. Few gave the behemoth Q7 much of a chance when it was launched and many wrote the Q5 off as too expensive and not spacious enough. In the event, both models outstripped even Audi's most optimistic sales projections. Cue the Q3.
It launched into the UK market in mid-2011, a time when Land Rover pulled a real flanker with its astonishingly successful Range Rover Evoque. Compared to the British car, the Q3 appeared deeply conservative. Sales subsequently showed that the taste was for bold designs and the Evoque wiped the floor with any rival you could care to mention. If though, you view the sales statistics that lie beyond those of the junior Range Rover in the premium-badged compact Crossover segment, you'll find that early versions of this Q3 actually acquitted themselves pretty well.
The Q3 was launched with a choice of three turbocharged engines. The petrol units comprised a 168bhp 2.0-litre petrol, available in front or four-wheel drive guises, and a 208bhp 2.0-litre that was only offered in quattro all-wheel drive form. Choose diesel and you got a 175bhp version of Audi's 2.0-litre common-rail engine, with four-wheel drive only. At the start of February 2012, the Q3 achieved a Euro NCAP five star safety award.A 138bhp version of the 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine mated to a quattro all-wheel drive chassis appeared in July 2012. The Geneva Show of spring 2012 saw the debut of a punchier Q3, the 306bhp RS model. At the start of 2014, Audi introduced a budget 148PS 1.4-litre TFSI petrol engine to the Q3 range, with front-wheel drive and either manual or S tronic transmissions. At the other end of the line-up, it introduced the ritzy S line Plus trim level. These were the final set of changes before Audi announced a facelifted car for the 2015 model year. The 1.4-litre petrol engine got Cylinder On Demand technology to make it even more efficient and the RS Q3's peak power was lifted from 306 to 335bhp in order to combat the rival Mercedes GLA 45 AMG.