For the first time, crossovers and SUVs are outselling traditional sedans in the U.S., as buyers are increasingly drawn toward their commanding ride height, roominess and extra cargo capacity. Nowhere is this more evident than in the compact luxury SUV segment, where sales continue at a record pace. With its all-new 2015 Audi Q3, the automaker seeks to deliver with aggressive handling and a surprising amount of standard feature content that tends to cost extra on its competitors.
Competing most directly with the BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class and Range Rover Evoque, the Q3 features tidy exterior proportions with classic Audi design. Elements pulled from the larger Q5 translate well to the Q3’s smaller proportions, and the overall look is taught and aggressive, hinting at the performance potential within. Standard xenon HID headlamps flanked by LED daytime running lights join Audi’s trademark split-front grille. The tailgate and hood are made of aluminum to help with weight savings. 18-inch wheels come standard, while 19-inch rollers will be on the option list.
Audi will offer a single engine choice at a launch. A 2.0-liter TFSI direct-injection 4-cylinder outputs 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft. of torque and comes mated to a 6-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, sending power to the front wheels, or optionally all four wheels with always-on Audi Quattro AWD. An optional Audi Drive Select system allows the driver to choose from settings of Comfort, Dynamic and Auto, affecting everything from suspension response to transmission shift logic and throttle inputs. An even hotter S-Line variant with a high-output turbo 4-cylinder is expected a ways down the line after launch.
While the Q3 is priced slightly higher than its German competitors, its well-appointed interior features a wide range of standard features. Power actuated heated leather seating comes standard, as does LED ambient lighting and a large panoramic moonroof with power sunshade. The latest in Audi Connect infotainment is available, featuring a 7-inch in dash screen, MMI Navigation Plus with Google Earth maps, in-vehicle WiFi hotspot, Google Voice search and a wide range of audio sourcing apps. A 14-speaker, 465-watt Bose surround sound system will come as an option, as will a power tailgate with programmable opening angles. Despite its small exterior footprint, the Q3 features 48.2 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats flat-folded.
Pricing and Release Date
The 2015 Audi Q3 will be in dealerships nationwide this Fall. Pricing will start at $33,425 including destination charges for FWD models, while the AWD Quattro will go from $35,525. By contrast, the BMW X1 starts from $31,850 and the Mercedes-Benz GLA from $32,225.