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Review update: 2020 Audi Q3 Premium Plus is punk-rock practical

April 8, 2020

The 2020 Audi Q3 is a small luxury crossover engineered for mass appeal like Wonder Bread—and I discovered that I like both. I like Wonder Bread and American cheese and bologna with yellow mustard, and I’m not being ironic. Don't ask me why, I don't understand it myself. I wasn’t sure if I’d like the Q3, however.

That's because I push back on most things mainstream like a reflex. It’s saved me from the Macarena and boy bands, but it also kept me from pop culture references and my texts read like they came from your grandad. I was 26 when I found out LOL didn’t mean “lights out, ladies.” I don’t mean to be a contrarian, but it helps sometimes. It didn’t keep me from appreciating the Q3, however.

The 2020 Audi Q3 earned a 6.7 TCC Rating, which puts it ahead of its typical rivals from BMW and Mercedes-Benz. We noted the Q3’s spacious interior, impressive performance, and stellar crash safety. Fortunately, I only tested two of those three in my week with the Q3. 

Hit: Touched by a touchscreen

The tester I was provided included the Q3’s optional 10.1-inch touchscreen, which is a $2,000 upgrade on Q3 Premium Plus versions and standard on Prestige models. (It adds a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, navigation, and telematics too.) It’s easy to recommend because it’s very good for how most will use their car’s infotainment system—and because I like to touch everything in a car like a toddler. Audi’s menus are bright and its icons are big, with most of the common functions easy to find. The same touchscreen appears in more expensive Audis, but often it’s paired with a lower touchscreen that handles vehicle functions such as climate controls and drive settings. The Q3 doesn’t have time (or room) for that, and it helps: the hard knobs or buttons for climate controls are better—even if there’s no sync button for the separate climate controls. What’s more, the big screen is best with Apple CarPlay, which is what many people will care about more than synchronized climate control settings.

2020 Audi Q3

2020 Audi Q3

Miss: Red light, green light, stop

Audi’s ballyhooed traffic light indicator included as part of its 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that’s standard on Q3 Prestige and available on Q3 Premium Plus can count down the seconds until a red light will turn green in certain intersections in some cities. My neighborhood in Denver is equipped with those traffic lights, and presumably many of my neighbors would like to know how long they have at a light to check Instagram. Audi’s system is a relatively close approximation of how long a traffic light will take, although not always accurate to the second. At many intersections, a green light came with a few seconds left on the countdown timer. It was usually long enough that impatient Denver drivers would likely honk at me if I was checking my ‘Gram—provided they weren’t doing the same thing already.

Bonus: The traffic light indicator can advise you how fast you need to travel to catch the next green light, or “ride the wave.” It’s far more helpful because poorly timed traffic lights upset my compulsive personality. See prior comment about synchronized climate controls. 

2020 Audi Q3

2020 Audi Q3

Hit: Power to the people

The Q3 is powered by a 2.0-liter turbo-4 that makes 228 horsepower, which is competitive to the X1 and GLA-Class that make 228 hp and 208 hp, respectively. On paper, it’s not a fair fight—the Audi Q3 weighs 400 to 500 pounds more than either BMW or Benz. In the real world, it doesn’t matter. The Q3 never really wants for power, and the small crossover scrambles up to highway speed without a fuss. Even better, the Q3 handles very well and its steering is light but crisp. 

I’d still rank the X1 higher for drivability than the Q3, but not by a wide margin. The Q3 is fun to drive. 

2020 Audi Q3

2020 Audi Q3

Miss: No adaptive cruise

Adaptive cruise is standard on Q3 Prestige, but an option on Premium Plus models like mine for $800 more. That’s a tough pill to swallow for a crossover that costs the better part of $45,000 like my tester, especially if lane-departure warnings are bundled into a package that costs $3,100 already. 

2020 Audi Q3

2020 Audi Q3

Hit: Small crossover, big cargo...

I love wagons for their practicality, fold-down rear seats, low loading floor, and dog-friendly hatches. I like wagons, the dogs like wagons, who doesn’t? Small crossovers like the Q3 have a secret: They’re closer to wagons as a species than they are SUVs. The Q3’s big caboose tucks away 48 cubic feet of cargo or roughly half of a 5x5 storage unit. Ask me how I know. There’s just one issue...

2020 Audi Q3

2020 Audi Q3

Miss: ...the roofline’s rear compromises tall items

It couldn’t take a lot of boxes or tall, long items like a stand-up dresser, due to the tail’s sportier rear end. Unlike a bulbous wagon, Audi’s roofline cuts down at 45 degrees before drawing down to the rear bumper. That means tall or squared-off items need to be pushed toward the front. It’s a small nitpick, but noticeable when you’re emptying out a storage unit. 

_______________________________________

2020 Audi Q3 S Line 45 TFSI Quattro Premium Plus

Base price: $36,995, including destination

Price as tested: $44,990

Drivetrain: 228-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo-4, 8-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive

EPA fuel economy: 19/27/22 mpg

The hits: Great infotainment, spacious interior, perky powertrain

The misses: Stylish shape cuts into some cargo space, traffic light countdown not always accurate, curious options packages

2020
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2020
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