Test Drives

Audi Q3 1.4 TFSI review – No quattro, no sweat?



UPDATED June 9th with new pricing

Munich, Germany – Five-room HDB flat or a tiny new two-bedroom condo? That’s the sort of dilemma some people face, and the Audi Q3 1.4 TFSI is meant to address a similar (but car-related) conundrum: go for the least plush version of a luxury car, or something that offers more car but less prestige?

The 1.4 TFSI is a basic edition of the posh soft-roader from Audi, reduced to its essentials in order to reach downward in price.

Until now the cheapest Q3 was the 2.0 TFSI at $207,450 with COE. The 1.4 is much cheaper – at $177,700 with COE it’s the most affordable compact SUV on the market, compared to the BMW X1 and the new Mercedes-Benz GLA. 

To get the price down there’s no ‘quattro’ all-wheel drive system, and as mentioned, the engine is a teeny 1.4 turbo unit. It has a hearty 150bhp, mind you. That is only 20bhp down on the 2.0-litre model, so the sprint to 100km/h takes only 0.7 seconds longer here.

Indeed, under heavy acceleration out of tight corners the front wheels sometimes scrabble for traction, which tells you how much grunt the little engine can muster.

You’d be tempted to drive the thing quickly, too, because the Q3 handles like a lively hatchback. In spite of its height, the Audi doesn’t totter around bends and it summons enough grip from the tyres to instill the driver with plenty of confidence.

There’s a decent ride over bumpy tarmac as well, so you can count on the Q3 to leave your bones unjarred despite the handling prowess.

While it offers a comfy ride, the Audi isn’t a spacious car. Seating in the rear is tight, so if you have teenaged kids raised on the hormone-filled meat of today you might be in for a bit of sulking or griping.

At least the cargo space is versatile, allowing you to expand capacity from 420 to 1,325 litres by dropping the rear seats.

That gives you some idea of what a Q3 is suitable for: long road trips with the family are an iffy idea, but weekend jaunts to the mall are definitely on the cards.

MORE: Is BMW’s X4 the most stylish off-roader around?

Yet, if you simply must have an Audi soft-roader and the 1.4 TFSI is what makes it possible, will people be able to tell that you took the cheap road to Q3 ownership?

Maybe, but only if they happen to be seriously hawk-eyed.

The 1.4 TFSI will have the same 17-inch alloy design as the 2.0 TFSI, and what visual differences exist between them are minor. The cheaper Q3 has a three-spoke steering wheel (without gearchange paddles), and its window frames are in plain black (instead of ‘high gloss’).

Probably the biggest giveaway is the 1.4’s front grille, which doesn’t have a quattro badge because, well, no quattro.

As far as Q3s go though, you probably won’t find yourself feeling shortchanged by the 1.4 TFSI. It’s mostly the car’s lack of size that you’ll have to think about, especially if you’re saddled with offspring. Most family men are better off with the five-room HDB flat.

NEED TO KNOW Audi Q3 1.4 TFSI
Engine 1,395cc, 16V, turbocharged in-line 4
Power 150bhp from 5000 to 6000rpm
Torque 250Nm from 1750 to 3000rpm
Gearbox 6-speed dual clutch
Top Speed 200km/h
0-100km/h 8.9 seconds
Fuel efficiency 6.2L/100km
CO2 145g/km
Price $177,700 with COE
Availability August 2014

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Leow Ju-Len
Leow Ju-Len is a lot older than he behaves. He's been writing about cars for 23 years. Someday he might do it coherently. Ju-Len believes in world peace and V8s, but not necessarily in that order.