The Q3 is Audi’s attempt to bring their go-to formula of “handsome, reserved, luxurious, competent” into the very hot compact CUV space. They will probably make out like bandits. What do you need to know before you buy a Audi Q3? Don’t worry, we’ll tell you everything right here in our Buyer’s Guide.
I asked the Jalopnik staff for the first words that came to their minds when they heard “Audi Q3.” Their responses were “A vague image of the Audi lineup, rotating in the air as I try to remember which one that is” and “small, opportunistic, luxury.”
Let’s translate this incoherent mumbling from zany Jalopnik staffers. The first response, from Jason Torchinsky (of course), is a joke about how all Audis look the same these days. It’s very true when you look at the entire lineup at once, but that’s not to say the cars don’t look elegant when they’re off on their own. The Q3 is no exception. It looks like a shrunken version of a Q5, and wears its tiny proportions rather well.
The second comment, “small, opportunistic, luxury,” from Patrick George, is a statement about America’s peculiar craze with small fancy wagons on stilts called “luxury crossover utility vehicles.” The Q3 is opportunistic, because it’s taking advantage of a market that has the hots for small, plush compromise utility vehicles, and Audi is hoping their little CUV will help them rake in lots of cash.
But Audi isn’t alone in the battle for luxury compact CUV supremacy, as the Mercedes GLA, BMW X1, Range Rover Evoque and the much cheaper Buick Encore are all battling for Americans’ hard-earned cash.
Audi’s baby compact CUV has been romping through the streets of Europe since the 2012 model year, but it only recently made its U.S. debut at the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. All new for 2015, the new Q3 promises “an excellent balance of agility and functionality.” If the Q5 is any indication, Audi may very well be able to keep its promise.
The Q3 sits on a taller, shorter-wheelbase version of the PQ35 platform found under the current Volkswagen Jetta. Audi’s smallest CUV is meant to entice customers with plentiful standard luxury features, decent driving dynamics, fine fuel economy and a practical 48.2 cubic feet of space. So it’s perfect for young hipsters.
This year saw a few changes, as the ‘16 model got revised headlights, a restyled grille, front and rear standard park sensors and a standard backup camera. LED headlights, 19-inch wheels and revised rear turn signals on Prestige trims round out the changes for 2016.
The Audi Q3 comes in two trim levels: Premium Plus and Prestige, both of which get the same 2.0-liter turbo I4 mated to a six-speed automatic and available Quattro all-wheel drive.
All Q3s come with electric power steering, MacPherson Strut front suspension, four-link rear suspension design, 12.6-inch vented disc brakes in the front and 11.1-inch vented rotors out back.
Since you can’t get an A3 wagon in America, we’d consider the basic Audi Q3 Premium Plus trim. It comes standard with 12-way power leather heated front seats, a panoramic sunroof, dual-zone climate control, xenon headlights with LED signature lights and rain-sensing wipers.
That’s a lot of standard content, and that’s part of the reason why the Audi Q3 starts at such a high MSRP. Our basic front-drive Premium Plus Q3 would ring in at $34,625 with destination fee. Gulp.
MSRP: $33,700-$40,700 Top Speed: 130 MPH
Acceleration: 7.8s to 60 (FWD) MPG: 20/29/23 (FWD)
Engines: 2.0-liter turbo I4
Max Horsepower/Torque: 200 hp/207 lb-ft
Curb Weight: 3,494-3,682 pounds IIHS Rating: Top Safety Pick
Transmissions: Six-speed automatic
Drivetrain Layout: Front engine, FWD/AWD
Photo credit: Audi