The demand for crossover SUVs is growing by the day, and the Audi Q3 and Audi Q5 are amongst the best in the business. Both of these upmarket, compact SUVs combine luxurious practicality with four-wheel drive capabilities to produce one of the most relaxing yet compelling driving experiences in the premium compact SUV class.
The Audi Q3 may seem more appealing with it’s sleek body shape and affordable price tag, but the Audi Q5 dominates the Q3 when it comes to practicality and outright performance.
Is your heart set on an Audi, but sitting on the fence when it comes to choosing a model? We’re here to make that decision a little bit easier!
Want to know more about these models? Check out our Audi Q5 review and Q3 Sportback review. If you fancy something a wee bit daintier, but still donning the premium badge, our Audi Q2 vs Q3 comparison is right up your street. If you want to see the Audi vs BMW showdown, our Audi Q3 vs BMW X1 comparison is not to be missed! We’ve also had a look at some of the best Audi Q3 alternatives.
Audi Q3 vs Q5
Does size really matter? Is the Q3 really £10,000 cheaper than the Q5? How much better is the Q5 in terms of driver experience? Who’s got the more intuitive tech? We’re going to pit these two head-to-head and see which one is the true all-rounder. With so many different unique attributes between them, how do we crown a winner? Read on to find out!
- Doors: 5
- Engine: 2.0
- Fuel: P, D
- Body: SUV
- Drive: M, A
- CO2: 117 - 179g/km
- Doors: 5
- Engine: 3.2
- Fuel: P, D, H
- Body: SUV
- Drive: M, A
- CO2: 218g/km
Loads of high tech features
Not the most enjoyable to drive
Extremely well built
Excellent infotainment system
Only 2 engines available
Steering could be more involving
Both of these crossover SUVs combine chunky styling with off-road ability to make them a huge catch for families looking to live on the wild side. They may not have the same adventurous capabilities of the Audi Q7, but they’ll certainly be easier to nip to the shops.
We feel the Audi Q3 exceeds expectations in terms of attractive looks and style. With its distinctive coupe-esque sloping roofline, prominent octagonal grille and futuristic LED headlights, the Audi Q3 is sure to impress the neighbours. The smooth contours give the Q3 a lovely glossy finish and the chrome touches add an element of class that you come to expect from an Audi.
The exterior design of the Q5 doesn’t leave much to be desired. The subtle looks can feel slightly underwhelming if you’re looking for a family SUV with a touch of flair. Despite that, the Q5 is equipped with defining features on the entry-level S Line trim such as it’s curved shoulder line and flared wheel arches that make it a commanding presence on the road.
Both are gorgeous cars - there’s not much to set them apart here.
It’s no surprise that both cars handle with vigour and grace. Although, if you’re expecting Land Rover-esque off-road ability you’re going to be thoroughly disappointed. Intriguingly, the Q3 is available in both front wheel drive and all-wheel drive (AWD), while the Q5 only comes in the latter.
The Q3’s high driving position and standard ‘Sport’ suspension do a decent job of ensuring a more comfortable drive than the Q5. Unfortunately, the unresponsive seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission on the 45 TFSI 2.0-litre 4WD Quattro 227bhp S Tronic model lets the side down a little.
If you’re regularly carrying a full load of passengers or expecting to clock up the miles, we recommend opting for a diesel output. The 40 TDI 190bhp 7-speed automatic quattro S Tronic offers a welcome blend of speed and fuel efficiency that makes it a great option for families.
The new Audi Q5 is 90kg lighter than the previous model, which has paved the way for a more nimble and exciting drive. The Q5’s quattro four-wheel drive system provides the car with a plentiful amount of grip and precise body roll. Steering feels decidedly sharper and more accurate than it does in the Q3, while the Q5 isn’t as noisy as the Q3 at motorway speeds.
Interior superiority is something that comes naturally to an Audi car, and the Q3 and Q5 are certainly no different. Both models have been pieced together using premium soft-touch materials that play a lead role in creating a polished, well-built cabin. But who has the edge?
A major selling point for the Audi Q3 is the fact that entry-level models come equipped with a top-notch MMI infotainment system including Audi’s 10.25-inch Virtual Cockpit digital instrument display alongside the 10.1-inch central infotainment touchscreen. The Virtual Cockpit replaces outdated analogue dials with an aesthetically pleasing and well positioned screen that can be controlled using neat buttons on the steering wheel. The Q5, however, doesn’t come with it as standard but instead has a 7-inch MMI Navigation display which is not nearly as impressive. Both have Apple Carplay and Android Auto as standard and Audi esteemed Tech Pack as an optional extra.
Inspect the Q3 from top to bottom and you’ll find a few scratchy plastics hidden on the door panels - something you’ll have no issues with in the Q5. As well as being noticeably bigger than the Q3, the Q5 is also a touch classier. The mixture of soft-touch plastics, glossy wood and metal trims give the cabin an invigorating feel. Add in the luxury of leather seats (heated in the front), electrically adjustable lumbar support and extendable under-thigh support as standard and there’s no denying the Q5’s luxurious edge.
Opt for the entry-level SE trim and the Q3 comes with generous standard features including Bluetooth, climate control, keyless entry, and a panoramic sunroof. Safety features also include rear parking sensors, airbags and Audi Drive Select as an optional extra. Opt for the Audi Q5 and you’ll get an upgraded interior-trim package, adaptive cruise control and automatic forward-collision braking - all of which are unavailable on the Q3.
This is where the Audi Q5 starts to open up a gap on the less spacious Q3. Despite being easier to manoeuvre around town and fit into tight car park spots, the Q3 lacks the level of cabin space desired by many family SUV buyers.
The Q3’s front seats provide generous headroom in spite of the sloping roofline, whilst there’s more than enough room for two older children in the back. In terms of boot space, the Q3 is pretty decent. The Audi Q3 Sportback boot space has 530 litre capacity with the seats up and 1400 litres with the seats down, the Q3 trumps close competitors like the BMW X1 and Mercedes GLA. You may be slightly disappointed that the seats don’t fold completely flat, but it’s not by much.
The Q5 is bigger in every department. There’s noticeably more head and leg room upfront, while the rear seats come with plenty of electric seat adjustment to avoid any discomfort. The Q5’s not got the biggest boot in the SUV range, but it’s certainly not cramped. The Audi Q5 boot space gets 550 litres worth of storage space, but the tall roof means you’ll be able to stack objects high if need be. With the rear seats fully flat, the boot expands to a 1,550 litre capacity. The five-seater Q5 is a great option for small families who don’t fancy a larger, clunkier SUV.
Not only is the Audi Q5 bigger in stature, it’s got the higher starting price (MSRP) to match. The Audi Q3 starts around £10,000 cheaper than the Q5, with considerably cheaper leasing costs. Opt for a diesel output on either of the models and you’ll be saving a fortune on running costs in comparison to a petrol equivalent.
In terms of insurance, The Q3 Sportback insurance group ranges from 23 to 33. The cheapest option is the 35 TFSI petrol engine whereas the 45 TFSI is going to leave the biggest hole in your pocket. In regards to running costs, the 35 TDI engine is the most fuel-efficient. The entry-level diesel will return up to 60 MPG and emit a respectable 124g/km making it an ideal motorway cruiser.
In terms of insurance costs, the Audi Q5 insurance group for the diesel options is 31 whereas the petrol is up in the pricier group 34. If running costs are a priority, the cost effective diesel output returns a modest 51.4 MPG compared to the petrol equivalents’ mediocre 39.2 MPG.
For overall practicality and comfort, the Audi Q5 sneaks it. For interior tech and costs, the Q3 has the upper-hand with the Virtual Cockpit and lower running costs. For aesthetics? It’s a tie. And for performance, there really isn’t much in it.
If you can afford it, the Q5 is a great car, but make sure you add the Virtual Cockpit to the mix. If you’re on a tighter budget, the Q3 makes for a fantastic new car.
If you want to get to know the Q5 and Q3 a little better, our Audi Q5 review and Audi Q3 Sportback review covers every nook and cranny. Our Audi Q3 vs Q2 comparison is great if you fancy something a little smaller. If you want to see the battle of the German giants, our Audi Q3 vs BMW X1 comparison pits the best in the crossover SUV class against each other. You can also keep your options open by checking out our Audi Q3 alternatives post!