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Audi Q3 1.5 TFSI Mild Hybrid Review: The Solid and Dependable Choice

The Q3 receives a minor update, and still remains as a faultless choice amongst the range of entry-level premium SUVs
Joel Foo
Joel Foo
13 Mar 2023
... the Q3 remains a solid choice amongst the entry-level premium SUVs available on the market.
What we like:
Solid build quality
Safe, easy and direct handling
Everyday comfort and practicality
Coasting function on highway runs
What we dislike:
Deserves a model update soon!
Coasting function best utilised outside of city traffic

It’s pretty hard to fault the Audi Q3 we have on test here – it comes in a practical SUV body shape, is easy to manoeuvre, and in typical Audi-fashion, its interior feels premium to the touch. The version we have here is the 1.5 TFSI Mild Hybrid, which you might recall from its appearance in an efficiency challenge which Audi invited us to participate in last year.

The 1.5-litre inline-4 sports an identical figure of 150 bhp to the outgoing 1.4 TFSI version it replaces, with the main difference being a 48V electric motor providing up to 12 bhp and 50 Nm of additional oomph on harder loads.

The net effect in drive feel is almost negligible – which is a good thing, as its predecessor is already known for its steady drive. This new 1.5-litre power plant offers sufficient power off the line for inner-city commutes, but it would be best to manage your expectations if you’re associating EV-esque power from standing starts with the addition of an electric motor.

Where the mild hybrid technology pays dividends is an improvement in fuel efficiency. The “green" updates extend to the inclusion of a start-stop function (which was absent from the outgoing model) and that all-important ‘coasting’ function.

Taking inspiration from my colleagues’ attempt to bag first place in that fuel economy challenge, I tried my best to commute as economically as possible with the Q3. In this (extremely) unscientific test, we managed to hit a consumption figure close to 7L / 100 km in a 60/40 mix of city and highway traffic.

I guess the numbers could be better, as most of our journey involved chock-a-block rush hour commutes.

As for that coasting function, the aforementioned traffic conditions might not have been the most ideal to test this. We felt that the system would sometimes kick in too early, resulting in an over dependence on the Q3’s brakes – a bit more of that traditional engine braking sensation to help the car come to a stop in bumper-to-bumper traffic would be more ideal.

But that’s just us nitpicking – on the highway, we found this function to be excellent, and certainly wished that more manufacturers could include this as a standard function for models in their line up. I would describe the sensation of coasting on longer downward sloping sections of our roads with the knowledge of using next to a couple of drops of fuel as rather relieving.

Elsewhere, the Q3 performs fantastically as a premium, entry level SUV in the Audi range. Just like its big brother S8 (which clinched the ‘Best in Build Quality’ title at our recent COTY 2022 awards), the only adjective worth using to describe its interior fit and finishing is that of ‘quality’. Its crisp, fully featured MMI infotainment system is a pleasure to use, and almost every button within the cabin felt reassuringly firm and nice to the touch.

Audi offers the updated 1.5 TFSI powertrain as a ‘Sportback’ variant as well, which, with its sloping roofline, admittedly looks sleeker and sportier than the regular Q3 body style we have on test here. But as our weekend cycling escapade went, we personally find the latter to be more practical.

Overall, the Q3 remains a solid choice amongst the entry-level premium SUVs available on the market. We feel that it is more than able to hold a candle to its other German rivals, despite having been around since 2018 (mind you that’s coming on 5 years ago now). With its brethren introducing Cat-A COE-friendly models in the form of the Mercedes-Benz GLA180 and the recently launched BMW X1, we are eagerly looking forward to the next round of updates from Audi, and the fight it brings to the premium entry-level SUV ring.

Photos by James Wong


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