Compact SUVs are one of the hottest segments in the car market. So hot, that Audi has decided it needs two of them. In addition to the very popular Q5, we now also have the Q3. With a base price of just $34,625, this is one of Audi’s least expensive models, and is likely to be an entry point to the brand for many buyers.
Upon first glance, the Q3 hardly looks any different from the Q5, especially from the front. The rear hatch tapers a bit more, and the stance is more athletic, but from a distance you’d be hard pressed to tell the two apart. Take out a measuring tape and the difference becomes clear, as the Q3 is 10 inches shorter, as well as 2.6 inches less tall and wide. The Q3 is very much on the compact side of the crossover spectrum.
Like quite a few other Audi and VW products, the Q3 comes standard with a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, which is the only choice for now. Tuned in this application to make a relatively modest 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft torque, the Q3 is not super quick, but still reasonably peppy, and the abundant torque makes for easy passing without having to change gears.
Speaking of gears, the Q3 unfortunately has to make do with a six-speed automatic transmission, which works perfectly fine but the shifting definitely feels a bit lazy, especially compared to the superb eight-speed automatic available in the Q5. Audi lists a 8.2 second 0-60 time, which is off the pace compared to competitors like the BMW X1 and Mercedes Benz GLA250.
Efficiency also suffers due to the fewer available gear ratios and a hefty 3,600 pound curb weight. The EPA combined mileage is a rather measly 23 mpg, and during testing I had a hard time improving on this figure. Only out on the open highway did mileage start to approach the high 20s, which is what you’d expect from a relatively small car with a small engine.
Fortunately the Q3 helps you forget about these shortcomings with a very well balanced suspension. Whether driving around town or tackling a twisty back road, the Q3 remains impressively poised, especially for a crossover. The test car featured 19-inch wheels with surprisingly large 255 series tires, which definitely helped with cornering confidence. By the time understeer starts to kick in you are going way faster than common sense normally allows.
The Q3 also comes with a nicely appointed interior, with standard leather seating and a slew of available options. While not exactly roomy, the Q3 should comfortably seat four adults. The main sacrifice compared to larger crossovers is cargo room, which is quite limited, even with the rear seats folded down. Trying to fit a larger object, such as a bicycle, in the rear proved to be an exercise in spatial reasoning.
There are two trim levels, Premium Plus and Prestige, as well as several optional packages. A fully loaded Q3 with Quattro AWD tops out at well over $40k, which might seem like a lot for a petite crossover, but compared to the competition the Q3 is actually an excellent value.
The 2016 Q3 model receives a facelift, with reshaped headlights and larger, more aggressive air intakes in the bumper. Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights are standard equipment with the Premium Plus trim; full LED headlights, as well as S line exterior and 19-inch wheels are standard with Prestige trim. The rear taillights have also been tweaked, and there are four new exterior colors. Fore and aft parking sensors and a rearview camera are now also standard. Standard interior features upgraded for 2016 include the Alu-optic MMI controls, dual-zone automatic climate controls, and panoramic sunroof.
Although there have been rumors of a diesel engine option coming to the United States, the 2016 Q3 continues with the same powertrain. Although available in other parts of the world, the Q3 TDI remains a fantasy in America, one that will surely continue to exist in the minds of eco-conscious Audi fans.
Even with the lack of powertrain options, the Q3 is a compelling little crossover that deserves serious consideration by anyone looking for a small luxury SUV. I give it a Buy it! for its superbly balanced ride, well-executed interior, and excellent value.
2016 Audi Q3 Prestige quattro (AWD) Specs:
- MSRP: $34,625 (includes destination and handling charge)
- Engine: 2.0L TFSI turbocharged direct-injection 4-cylinder
- Power: 200 hp @ 5100- 6000 rpm
- Torque: 207 lb-ft @ 1700-5000 rpm
- 0 – 60 mph: 7.8 seconds (FWD) | 8.2 seconds (quattro)
- Top track speed: 130 mph (electronically limited)
- Curb weight: 3,494 lbs. (FWD) | 3,682 lbs. (quattro)
- EPA-estimated fuel economy (city/hwy/combined mpg): 20/29/23 (FWD) | 20/28/23 (quattro)
TFL Car tested an Audi Q5 TDI one mile above sea level. Watch this video to see how it performed its 0 – 60 test.