New & Used Audi Q3: In Depth
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The Audi Q3 competes with the likes of the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class, BMW X1, and Buick Encore. It is the entry-level model in Audi's growing crossover lineup, which now includes the Q3, Q5, and Q7. It is related to the last Audi A3 as well as Volkswagen's small Tiguan crossover.
The Q3 is a compact luxury crossover that very much resembles a scaled-down Q5, one of Audi's most popular vehicles. The wraparound tailgate caps a stubby tall-wagon shape that's much smaller than the Q5's, more city-sized than family-sized--unless the family is a small one. The hatchback has slightly more rake to it, however, giving the Q3 an even tidier appearance on the road. LED headlamps and an interior like the one on the new A3, makes the Q3 handsome in a way some of its competitors aren't. Mild aesthetic updates are due in 2016 for the Q3.
MORE: See our 2015 Audi Q3 preview
At launch, the U.S. market gets just one powertrain for the Q3. The 2.0T is a turbocharged, direct-injected four-cylinder displacing 2.0 liters and producing 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a six-speed automatic transmission only; front-wheel drive will be standard, with quattro all-wheel drive an option. Audi sells a high-performance RS Q3 elsewhere, powered by a 310-hp turbocharged 2.5-liter in-line five-cylinder engine, but there are currently no public plans to bring that variant to the U.S. That powertrain will arrive here in the A3 sedan, however.
Audi’s Drive Select system will be an option. It allows the driver to adjust the handling and throttle response at the touch of the button, with three preset modes and one that can be tailored to the driver's specific taste. The Q3 rides on standard 18-inch wheels and tires, though 19-inchers are offered.
The Q3 is a five-passenger vehicle, but its small size likely means a tight fit for three in the rear seat. Q3s equipped with the optional Sport package will include seats with additional bolstering and thigh-cushion extensions. With the rear seats in place, there is 16.2 cubic feet of cargo space. Fold the seats down, and it expands to 48.2 cubic feet.
Among its many safety features, the Q3 will offer rear side airbags as an option. A Driver Assistance package includes parking sensors and a rearview camera, as well as blind-spot monitors. The Q3 hasn't yet been rated by either of the nationally recognized safety agencies.
Standard features include speed-dependent electric power steering, electronic stability control with off-road and hill descent settings, 18-inch wheels (19-inch wheels are offered), a sunroof, xenon headlights, LED interior lighting, 12-way power-adjustable front seats with heating, and leather trim.
There’s a long list of options too. Some highlights are Audi’s MMI navigation plus system with a 7.0-inch display, Audi connect WiFi, a power hatch, and a Bose sound system with 14 speakers. Audi Connect adds in-car data services (now powered by AT&T and eligible as a Mobile Share device if you have an existing plan), Google Earth mapping, and Google Local Search by voice. The 2015 Q3 starts at around $30,000.
Audi has announced that a face lift is coming for the 2016 model, with lightly revised front and rear styling as well as upgraded interior materials and new infotainment systems. The most noticeable exterior change is the newest version of Audi's corporate grille design, which is straight-sided and extends all the way down through the lower front fascia. The lights are also updated and reshaped, flowing into the sides of the reimagined grille. The reason for the seemingly early face lift is that the Q3 has been on sale in other markets for several years, meaning that it was due there for some minor tweaks.