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.

Performance Pros

Audi Q3
  • 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.

Performance Cons

  • 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.

Interior Pros

  • 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.

Interior Cons

  • 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

Audi Q3

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.