In contrast to lackluster sales of big SUVs, compact luxury crossovers have turned into quite a success story lately. As a result, manufacturers are shrinking the concept further yet, into subcompact territory. Introduced for 2015, the Q3 is some 10 inches shorter than Audi’s compact Q5 model. Audi promotes the coupe-like design of the Q3, along with its 48.2 cubic feet of cargo space. Despite a limitation or two, it’s an appealing lifestyle choice for couples and singles, in particular.
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2016 Audi Q3 Overview
What's New for 2016
Redesigning of front lights heads the list of changes. Foglamps have been dropped, as all-weather lights now are integrated into the headlights. A new “Q-design” grille and radiator guard lead the way, along with new fascias and bumpers, and LED taillights. A rearview camera and front/rear parking sensors now are standard. Prestige trim now features full LED headlights and dynamic rear turn signals.
Choosing Your Audi Q3
Despite mini-level dimensions, the Q3 delivers quite a bit of luxury for the price. Even better, ride comfort and interior refinement mimic its larger mates. Each Q3 has a 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, producing 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed Tiptronic automatic is the sole transmission, with sport and manual modes. Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system is available for any Q3.
Audi claims 0-60 mph acceleration in 7.8 seconds (8.2 with quattro). With front-drive, fuel economy is estimated at 20 mpg city/29 mpg highway (23 mpg combined). Quattro drops the highway figure slightly, to 28 mpg.
Two trim levels are offered, with either front-wheel drive or quattro all-wheel drive.
Unlike some competitors, purchasing a Q3 doesn’t have to include deep consultation with an option list. Whether in Premium Plus or Prestige form, the Q3 is a full luxury vehicle as it stands. Enhancing Premium Plus with the Technology Package simply brings it toward the Prestige equipment level, so consider the value of each additional item. One option that we do recommend is the Sport package, which can enhance driving enjoyment for only $550.
2016 Audi Q3 Review
Compact crossovers are all the rage these days. Luxury editions appear to be faring even better in the popularity race, including Audi’s smallest such model. Charmingly shaped, the Q3 is 10 inches shorter than Audi’s longer-lived A5, and sits lower.
Pricing and Equipment
Starting at $33,700 (plus $925 destination charge) in Premium Plus trim, the Q3 holds a 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 200 horsepower, driving a six-speed automatic transmission. Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system is available as an alternative to front-drive.
Standard equipment for the Premium Plus model tested includes:
- Six-speed automatic transmission
- Rearview camera
- Panoramic sunroof
- Keyless entry/start
- 10-speaker sound with satellite and HD radio
- Roof rails
- Power front seats
- Dual-zone automatic climate control
- 18-inch alloy wheels
The Prestige model ($4,900 more) adds a power liftgate, full LED headlights, power-folding mirrors, Audi connect, Audi side assist, SiriusXM Traffic, 465-watt Bose surround-sound, and 19-inch wheels. A Sport Package adds selectable driving modes, paddle shifters, and sport front seats.
- Agility. Despite relatively heavy curb weight for a vehicle of this size, the Q3 is impressively nimble and maneuverable.
- Ride comfort approaches that of the larger Q5: not particularly sporty, but satisfyingly smooth for longer journeys as well as daily commutes.
- Refined road manners are on par with what’s expected from Audi, even though the Q3 is tuned to emphasize ride comfort and predictability over crisp handling talents. Optional Drive Select lets the driver choose a preferred level of steering and transmission response, from gentle to vigorous.
- Fuel-efficiency could be better, EPA-estimated at 20 mpg in city driving and 29 mpg on the highway (28 mpg with quattro all-wheel drive).
- Audi enthusiasts might prefer a manual gearbox, but the Q3 comes only with automatic.
- Though stimulating to the eye, there's not much evidence of the sport-utility element in this particular crossover SUV.
- Refinement of the Q3's interior echoes the level offered by its larger Audi cousins, notably the midsize Q5. Filled with low-gloss black plastic, highlighted by metallic trim, the cockpit looks similar to the one in Audi’s A3 sedan: subdued and integrated.
- Standard seats are adequate, with long-enough bottom cushions; but optional Sport seats promise greater comfort as well as more helpful side bolstering.
- Cargo space is a bonus, with 16.7 cubic feet behind the back seat. Folding that seat boosts cargo volume to 48.2 cubic feet.
- Rear-seat headroom is marginal and knee space tight for adults, unless front seats are well forward. A third occupant might balk at squeezing into that center position. Front headroom is reduced by the panoramic sunroof.
- Space-efficiency trails that of some competitive models. Rather than suitable for family trips, the Q3 seems more appropriate for daily commutes and families with small children.
- The available navigation/multimedia screen protrudes from the top of the dashboard, and is easy to see; but it doesn’t fold away when not in use and its glossy frame can suffer from glare.
The Most Pleasant Surprise
It might seem like a small issue, but we were tickled to see actual knobs on the dashboard, to control radio volume and climate-control temperature.
And despite the Q3's moderate dimensions, suggesting snugness, front occupants are some distance apart, which gives appreciated elbow room.
The Least Pleasant Surprise
We struggled to get into the center of the back seat, where slinging one leg over the floor hump proved to be a formidable challenge. Once in position, bumping our head against the roof failed to produce a smile of satisfaction.
The Bottom Line
As noted in our evaluation, there’s not much fault to be found in Audi’s Q3, which stands apart in road behavior as well as fashionable good looks. With only one powertrain and two trim levels, making a choice should be easy, too.
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