The most affordable way to get into an Audi SUV is the compact-sized Q3. First introduced to our shores 5 years ago, this all-new version arrives with greater visual presence, a snappier engine and more space.
The first generationQ3 wasn’t bad but by the time it arrived in the U.S. it was already a little stale, having been sitting on European shelves for a while.
But this 2nd generation model hits its stride by addressing previous issues. It now resembles a baby Q5, the 2.0-liter turbo packs more of a punch and its larger dimensions simply make it more usable.
There are two core models, base and S line, and then 3 trim levels, Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige, starting at $35,695, or for some perspective, the cost of a fully loaded Honda CR-V.
Whichever Q3 you choose, it’s coming with a 228 horsepower turbo-4 producing 258 pound-feet of torque, an 8-speed auto, quattro and much improved upon acceleration, taking 7 seconds to reach 60mph – that’s 1.2 seconds faster than before.
I’ve struggled with the pricing of this heavily optioned, Premium Plus example. At just a tick under $45k grand it seems like the MSRP is a tad overzealous.
But I do like the Q3 and the cool tech has a lot to do with that. The $2,000 navigation package brings in the 10” MMI touchscreen and the alluring virtual cockpit with its brilliant map views.
Ever since Audi switched to this more intuitive setup it’s become one of the best on the market. And wireless CarPlay makes so much sense that it’s maddening more manufacturers don’t offer it, especially when paired with a device charge pad…no more cumbersome cables required. Everything here is very easy to use. Now, I would pocket the $150 and leave off the Alcantara interior package which looks a little tacky and presumably difficult to keep clean.
Also, it’s only available in orange. But the $500 Sport Interior Package gets my nod mainly for the S line sport seats with contrast stitching and the steering wheel paddle shifters. My 6’1” frame fits in here quite well both in the front and the rear, where passengers will experience more comfort and spaciousness with reclining seatbacks.
The new Chronos Gray metallic paint looks great, the S line bumpers and side sills give it an edge and the upsized 20” wheels fill out the body but this $800 wheel package hasn’t been an ideal match for this early season cold sna
I’m an educated man, but I’m afraid I can’t speak intelligently about the performance attributes of the Q3 S line. What I do know is that it’s equipped with Audi-specific Bridgestone summer-use tires and the temperature here hasn’t risen above freezing all week. Now, are these really the questions I was called here to answer? Handling and quattro grip? Please tell me that you have something more, Lieutenant. This Q3 is on trial for its review. Please tell me its manufacturer hasn’t pinned its hopes to some Potenzas.
Alright, so I’m no Colonel Jessup but you get my point; even with quattro these tires didn’t like the snow so I haven’t been able to do much spirited driving but I can tell there’s more fun to be had there than before. But the sounds and sensations from behind the wheel here remind me more of a VW than an Audi, as if it was just a smidge uncultured for the interlocking rings.
The Q3 is really solid now having addressed the weaknesses of the original. The engine plays with a youthful exuberance, the cabin is a joy to use with standout features like the virtual cockpit and wireless CarPlay, it’s sized better and it’s something you’re proud of stepping out of now.
But here where my criticisms lie – you’re Audi so just make adaptive cruise control standard. I’ll take a heated steering wheel at this price too. There’s more wind noise generated than seems normal and the gas mileage is nothing to write home about.
Or perhaps it’s the tire noise. Either way, I’m hearing too much of the outside. And at 22mpg it’s down a hair from the previous model BUT it no longer necessitates premium gas so that’s a positive.
Wider dimensions lead to more usable cargo space so with the seats folded you get the same amount of room as a Chevy Trax. The optional 20-speaker B&O sound system is also an impressive addition.
The Q3 has grown up…it’s more fun and more polished. But the asking price is a little aggressive so choose wisely.