Finding an identity. Small crossovers always come with something of an identity crisis. The 2020 Audi Q3 more than usual: is it a smaller Q5? A boosted A3? A beast all its own?
The Q3 is hampered further by Audi’s new naming conventions. With the loss of the engine-derived “2.0T” badge, the new car goes by “45 TFSI.” It fits in with Audi’s new naming scheme, but we’re not sure what it means.
At heart, though, you can expect Audi delivering more of what it does best. Standard all-wheel drive, modern technology, and a balance of performance with luxury. The Q3 reminds us most of an overweight Volkswagen Golf, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Fun, but not frugal. The Q3’s relation to the VW Golf is evident in the handling, which is pleasantly zippy. The Q3 handles its extra mass well, although we wish that Audi would allow some more feedback from the wheels.
Propelling the Q3’s 3900-pound weight is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The VW group knows a thing or two about four-cylinder engines, and this one is as perky as you’d expect. An eight-speed automatic transmission is the only option, but it’s a good one.
We’re left scratching our heads about efficiency. The EPA estimates that the Q3 will do 22 miles per gallon combined, which is poor for a small crossover. In fact, Audi’s own Q5, which is both heavier and more powerful, manages 24 mpg combined. What happened, Audi?
Best on the inside. It’s not that the Q3 is unpleasant on the outside. It’s perfectly handsome, but with its corporate octagon grille and chunky proportions, it doesn’t have the graceful allure of some of the brand’s other models.
Inside, however, is a lovely place to spend time. The Q3 is bigger than the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class and the BMW X1. While it may stretch the definition of a compact crossover, there’s no denying that the extra space is well spent, with plenty of leg room in the rear and plenty of cargo space behind.
The materials are quality, and leather upholstery comes standard. The Q3’s wide stance could easily make for a harsh ride, but it doesn’t. With comfy seating and a well-trimmed cabin, this is a runabout that can handle road trips, too.
The price proposition. The standard features on a base Q3 don’t end at leather seats. Also included free of charge is an 8.8-inch infotainment touchscreen, a 10.3-inch gauge cluster, heated front seats, a panoramic sunroof, and LED headlights.
That’s in addition to Audi’s suite of safety tech, which helps lift the Q3 to an IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus award. For an entry point to the brand, it’s an impressive kit, and the starting price isn’t too far from $35,000.
All the same, we’d rather have the Premium Plus trim, which adds niceties like keyless entry and a power-adjustable passenger’s seat. Bumping to that trim moves the Q3 perilously close to $40,000, at which point you’re just a few thousand from the larger (and apparently more efficient) Q5.
Final thoughts. We won't blame you if you’ve lost track of the many compact luxury crossovers flooding the market. But we also won't blame you for taking a close look at the 2020 Audi Q3, which blends together most of our favorite features in the class.
Our two major qualms are the fuel economy and the price. We’re baffled by the Q3’s (lack of) efficiency, but if you want to avoid the gas pump, it’s best to look elsewhere. That goes double if you plan on delving into the options list – the Q3 is best when the price stays closer to home.
If those don’t bother you, the Q3 is a worthy choice for a tall hatchback. Ahem, small crossover. Whatever.
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