The Car Connection Audi Q3 Overview
The Audi Q3 is the smallest crossover SUV in the automaker's portfolio. It was overhauled from the lugnuts up in 2019, and largely unchanged for 2020 and 2021.
Rivals for the Q3 include the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class, the BMW X1, and the Volvo XC40.
MORE: See our 2022 Audi Q3 review
The new Audi Q3
The current Audi Q3 was unveiled in July 2018 and borrowed much from the bigger, more luxurious Q8 crossover—including some heft, as it weighs about 3,900 pounds.
Audi shifted the Q3 to its common architecture that underpins most small Audi and VW models. The new Q3 is 3 inches longer between the wheels, and 4 inches longer overall. It's also about an inch wider. Seating space for four adults is excellent, and so is cargo space; the Q3 also has a sharply designed interior that's fitted with high-grade materials.
The corporate 2.0-liter turbo-4 under the hood delivers 228 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, good for a 0-60 mph time of 7.0 seconds according to Audi, and a 130-mph top speed. A lower-output model offers 184 hp and 0-60 mph times in the eight-second range. Ride and handling are nimble and pleasant thanks to a multi-link suspension and electric power steering.
The Q3 also features the latest active safety gear including adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking.
Audi boasts some of the most advanced infotainment systems and driver-assist features and the Q3 has them, from the virtual cockpit's digital displays to the Q3's new Bang & Olufsen audio system.
Very few changes were made to the Q3 for the 2020 model year and the crossover rolled into 2021 with standard S Line looks and wireless Apple CarPlay compatibility. In 2022, the Q3 gained new infotainment software, and a lower-output, 184-hp turbo-4 in a new Q3 40 model.
Audi Q3 history
The first-generation Q3 shared more visual similarities with the older Q5 that was replaced in 2017—by our eyes the Q3 is somewhat of a loner. The hatchback has slightly more rake to it, however, giving the Q3 an even tidier appearance on the road. LED headlights and an interior like the one in the A3 makes the Q3 handsome in a way some of its competitors aren't. The wraparound tailgate caps a stubby tall-wagon shape that's much smaller than the Q5's, though it's more city-sized than family-sized—unless the family is a small one.
Unlike other markets, the Q3 is offered here in the States in just one powertrain configuration. The 2.0 TFSI is a direct-injected, 2.0-liter turbo-4 that makes 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. The engine is paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission only. Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive available as an option.
Audi’s Drive Select system is an option. It allows the driver to adjust the handling and throttle response through three preset and one configurable mode. 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 means a tight fit for three in the rear seat. Q3s equipped with the optional Sport package boast seats with additional bolstering and thigh-cushion extensions. With the rear seats in place, there is 16.7 cubic feet of cargo space. Fold the seats down, and it expands to 48.2 cubic feet.
Among its safety features, the Q3 offers front thorax side and head curtain airbags. Front and rear parking systems became standard for model year 2016. Blind-spot monitors are available, but forward collision warnings aren't.
Standard features include electronic stability control with off-road and hill descent settings, 18-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof, xenon headlights, LED interior lighting, and 12-way power-adjustable front seats with heating.
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 wi-fi, a power hatch, and a Bose sound system with 14 speakers. Audi Connect adds in-car data services (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 Q3 was updated lightly for the 2016 model year. Audi applied new front and rear styling as well as upgraded interior materials and infotainment systems.
For 2017, the Q3 added a new entry-level model, the Q3 Premium, but the Q3 remained functionally unchanged.
Changes for 2018 center around equipment. The base Premium model gets the S line front bumper and side sills, as well as heated seats, and it is offered with a new Convenience package. The Premium Plus now has blind spot monitors, and its Sport plus package gets revised equipment.