Audi Q3 1.4 TFSI S

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Audi Q3, front action
Audi Q3, front static
Audi Q3, side static
Audi Q3, rear static
Audi Q3, dashboard

FOR lots of reasons, the car world is slowly moving away from diesel power, with petrol seeing us through until electricity takes over.

The potentially nasty pollutants pumped out of a diesel's exhaust will see that fuel off, with the current VW scandal doing its bit to hasten things along.

But is life without diesel too awful to contemplate? What about the cost of filling the tank and the miles to the gallon, you ask (a little selfishly, perhaps)?

Well, worry not. Even a decade ago the gulf between diesel and petrol power was wide enough to fill every company car park with tanks brimmed with the oily, smelly stuff.

Then the car makers got serious about petrol. Bolt a turbocharger on to a petrol engine and suddenly there was the chance of diesel-like pull from walking pace and lots more urge as speed built up, just as a diesel was starting to feel a bit choked and out of its depth.

Then - big bonus - some cleverly detailed engineering started to see petrol engines close up to diesels in the race for more miles to the gallon. And all without the smells and bother of a diesel.

Which is a way of saying that this Audi came with a petrol engine when I'd ordered a diesel (nobody's perfect) and seven days later I was delighted with the accidental switch.

From a mere 1.4-litres Audi (and VW and SEAT and Skoda) produces a perky 148bhp with petrol producing the bangs under the bonnet. There's a diesel with the same output but that's a 2.0-litre and, in the case of the test car, adds £1,410 to the bill.

But, you say, the diesel will save me fuel and cut costs in the long run. Well, perhaps not. Trying a diesel earlier - admittedly with economy sapping all-wheel drive and automatic gears - I recorded 43mpg.

Not bad in the circumstances but bettered by the petrol Q3, which showed 45mpg on its clear digital trip readout. Yes, it had a (delightful) manual gearbox and front-drive only, but I hope you get the point.

If you enjoy driving (many don't and it's not compulsory) you will prefer the terrier-like enthusiasm of the petrol Q3, which fairly zips along when provoked.

Which is where you may appreciate the lowered, stiffened suspension that comes with the S line package that also adds visual hints that you've gone the 'sporty' route. You can have the looks with the softer springs, but hardly anyone does.

The S line adds a hefty £2,680 over the cost of a Q3 in SE trim. Order that one and you'll have the least expensive car in a range which stretches to £36,040 even before you reach the heights of the road burning RS Q3, which nudges £50,000.

Any of them share the same mildly upright body, letting you sit a little above the common herd while enjoying a cabin with lots of space in the front (less in the rear) and all put together with the sort of solid attention to detail that has won Audi many friends.

FAST FACTS

Audi Q3 1.4 TFSI S line

Price: £28,330

Mechanical: 148bhp, 1,395cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 127mph

0-62mph: 9.2 seconds

Combined MPG: 49.6

Insurance Group: 21

C02 emissions: 131 g/km

Bik rating: 21%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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