New (and bigger) bones. The 2019 Audi Q3 marks the second generation of this subcompact crossover, which now shares the MQB architecture that underpins most of the VW-Audi range.
The new bones push wheelbase and length out about four inches, and the new car is an inch or two wider and taller than the old. That means that the Q3 is starting to push the “sub” out of “subcompact” — it’s now larger than rivals like the BMW X1 or Volvo XC40.
The upshot, however, is excellent interior space. Headroom and legroom are healthy, though they still don’t quite exceed those of the X1. Cargo capacity is decent, with 18.7 cubic feet behind the second row or 48 cu ft with the seats folded.
The second row has a handy ability to slide about six inches along its track. It helps with passenger and cargo flexibility. With the row pushed all the way forward, rear capacity grows to 23.7 cu ft.
Newly spunky, too. Audi continues to spice up its designs, both inside and out. The front now has a busy but symmetrical arrangement of cuts and creases around the hexagonal grille. It’s louder than Audi’s more conservative designs, though we’re not sure it’s our favorite.
Things improve on the inside. Even on base trims, fit and finish is excellent and trim materials are enticing. The big, sharp infotainment screen is surrounded by a silver hexagon that echoes the grille. It’s neither austere nor overwhelming, and it’s a pleasant place to spend time.
Audi even has some interior trims with pop — including, should you want it, an orange interior to match an orange exterior paint option. Who says Audi doesn’t cater to young people?
Numb but nimble. The Q3’s youthfulness continues in the handling. Lithe and lively, the Q3 is powered by a 228-horsepower turbocharged engine. The accompanying eight-speed automatic isn’t the best we’ve used, but the Q3 is quicker than ever.
It’s precise and tossable, too. The different drive modes don’t do much to the suspension, but the Q3 handles corners with aplomb and remains composed over rough roads.
But this is still an Audi, and that means a hefty curb weight and lifeless steering. The new Q3 weighs a couple hundred pounds more than the last generation, bringing it to nearly 4,000 pounds. To mask all that weight, Audi removes any hint of feedback from the steering.
The other downside is fuel efficiency. The 2.0-liter engine is willing but not particularly thrifty. At an estimated 22 mpg combined, it’s not much better than some three-row SUVs.
Typical tech excellence. Audi prides itself on cutting-edge tech integration, and the Q3 is a prime example. The central infotainment screen starts at 8.8 inches, but many models use a larger 10.1-inch unit.
Even better is the available 12.3-inch digital driver display, which runs navigation with stunning Google Earth maps. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included standard (take that, BMW).
Safety tech is strong as well. Every Q3 gets automatic emergency braking and forward collision warnings, with, and the rest of the safety suite is available even on the base model. Upper trims bring more standard safety features.
Final thoughts. Among the Germanic trio of compact crossovers, the new Q3 is a solid competitor. The exterior may not please everyone, but we doubt buyers will object to the interior space and excellent infotainment.
But the larger size brings extra weight, which contributes to the Q3’s biggest downfall: its lackluster efficiency. In an age where fuel economy matters more and more, the Q3 is a step behind its rivals.