- High-tech features standard
- Frisky turbocharged engine
- Roomier inside
- Modern interior
- Pert handling
- Too big for a subcompact?
- Tech may require acclimation
- Could get expensive
- Lackluster gas mileage
features & specs
The 2019 Audi Q3 whispers “GTI” in the ears of brand-conscious drivers—but it’s, like, discreet about it.
The smaller 2019 Audi Q3 distills the automaker's latest crossover shape down to a smaller package. With an octagonal grille borrowed from the much bigger Q8, the new 2019 Q3 is relatively daring and a departure.
Sold in Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige trims, the 2019 Audi Q3 earns a 6.2 overall rating. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The biggest changes might not be obvious at first glance, however. With the 2019 Q3, Audi has transitioned its entry-level crossover SUV to the modern MQB modular architecture that now underpins the bulk of VW and Audi models. The new platform means that the Q3's wheelbase stretches by about 3.8 inches, while its overall length is up by about 4 inches to 176.6 inches. The redesigned Q3 is also about an inch wider than its predecessor.
That gives the Q3 a larger footprint than its direct rivals, which include subcompact crossover SUVs such as the BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class, and Volvo XC40.
The newfound girth reaps benefits inside, where the five-seat Q3's maximum cargo volume checks in at 48 cubic feet and where its sliding rear seat flexes usefully between passenger and cargo space.
Up front, a 10.1-inch touchscreen for infotainment dominates the Q3's dashboard on pricey versions; it’s wrapped in a thin silver hexagon that echoes the crossover's grille. The Q3 gets Audi's latest infotainment system, which includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility plus Google Earth maps for the available navigation system. A 15-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system is available; so is orange paint and orange interior trim, if you like some orange with your orange.
In place of conventional analog gauges, the Q3 features a standard digital instrument cluster and a widescreen version that’s dubbed “virtual cockpit” thanks to its ability to display navigation on the fly.
Underhood, the Q3 sports a 228-horsepower turbo-4 paired to an 8-speed automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive. Handling is eager, the powertrain is frisky if not overly smooth to downshift, and it can be shod with 20-inch wheels, if you like mildly jarring impacts to go with the otherwise nimble, fluid feel.
On the safety front, the Q3 comes with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, and can be fitted with adaptive cruise control and active lane control. A surround-view camera system appears on expensive versions, as does a park assist system that can slot the Q3 into parking spaces at the press of a button.
2019 Audi Q3
Stubby can’t always be sexy, so Audi gives the Q3’s cabin some extra glam.
The Q3’s stocked with new eye candy, but the body impresses us less than the cockpit. We think it’s a 6 for style, with the extra point handed out for the sweeping, tech-heavy interior. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The latest Q3 does what all the latest Audis have done: It takes a similar shape and decorates it with more fine lines and creases and curves. It’s busy work for a design group that hit its stride with its last generation of cars. It does appear more substantial, especially at the rear quarters where it takes on hints of Bentley, of all things. The front end has a more vertical arrangement for its air intakes and grille ribs, while the LED headlights cut keyholes into the hood and fenders and 20-inch wheels border on bawdy. From the purer intentions of its pert hatchback body, the somewhat overstyled Q3 turns into something of a handbag dog—part companion, part accessory.
We’ll fanboy more over the Q3’s cabin, which in its least expensive versions has handsome aluminum trim, pica-wide metallic rings around its controls, handsome and sharp high-definition screens that dance with on-the-go Google Earth maps in top versions—even day-glow orange trim banded across the dash. Audi’s moved gradually away from the austerity of its more recent interior looks and the combinations that can grace the Q3’s interior give it a youthful glow that the sheet metal just can’t match.
2019 Audi Q3
The 2019 Audi Q3 has inline-skate reflexes to match its pocket-dog growl.
The 2019 Q3 is Audi’s most tossable car aside from the soon-to-retire TT. A sort of VW GTI minus the frumpy duds, it’s energetic and lively and easy to drive quickly.
We give it a 7, with extra points for its above-average power and handling. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The Q3 wraps its sculpted hood around VW’s latest 2.0-liter turbo-4, which throws off 228 hp and 258 pound-feet of torque in this iteration. Those numbers have risen 28 and 51, respectively, and toss the Q3 to 60 mph more quickly than ever—7.0 seconds, Audi claims, with a top speed set at 130 mph. It’s kind of amazing, given that it weighs a couple hundred pounds more than the previous car; at about 3,900 pounds it’s carved apparently from a single ingot of cholesterol.
The turbo-4 has a life of its own. It growls like a Chihuahua that’s seen you steal its favorite toy. The 8-speed automatic that puts that bratty snarl down to the ground through standard all-wheel drive could use some better manners. It knocks off shifts like it’s punching in a timecard; any manually triggered shift gulps through the drivetrain like a hard swallow. The AWD system splits power front to rear simply for better traction, not for a monster-truck rally.
Fiddle with the Q3’s drive modes and the Q3 takes a slightly more keen powertrain set, but the strut-and-link suspension doesn’t change. We wouldn’t call it a relentless sameness, the road feel that all VW Group compact cars have—it’s a more reassuring, comforting one. It doesn’t stray far from the Q5 or A4, and the Q3’s tune has a similarly pleasant tautness; it thocks over bumps and snubs them like it’s plucked a thick rubber band, then dives through switchbacks like it’s hunting for a truffle. There’s about zero feedback in its steering but it stays centered well enough—better in Sport mode by a hair—but the numbness doesn’t detract from the Q3’s nimble, inline-skate composure.
2019 Audi Q3
Comfort & Quality
Waist not, want not: The Q3’s still city-slim but suburb-comfy.
The revamped Q3 is a gainer. It’s grown wider and longer, which makes for an adult-sized back seat and exemplary cargo space. We rate it 7 for comfort and utility. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The Q3 now checks in at 176.6 inches long, and rides on a 105.5-inch wheelbase—that’s 3.8 inches longer between the wheels, and it’s almost entirely dedicated to back-seat room. The Q3’s also wider by 0.7 inches and taller by 1.5 inches.
The gains have elevated it from subcompact purgatory. In front the Q3’s supple, leather-trimmed sport seats have all the snuggly warmth Germany can muster—just clad in dark leather. Audi affords plenty of head room and outboard shoulder room. Only the driver's seat is power-adjustable on base models, but other models add passenger-seat power and all trims have heated front seats. We didn’t try out Audi’s base seat, so make sure you do—only the most expensive cars get the sport buckets.
The Q3’s back seat has expanded even more, all for the better—and it slides on a track of 5.9 inches, for very good flexibility between passengers and cargo. Head and shoulder room for two adults make no apologies, but the seat bottom is trimmed pretty far inboard, so three people won’t be comfortable for long trips.
The rear seat backs fold down for 48 cubic feet of cargo space in all. With the rear seat up and in its rearmost position, the Q3 holds 18.7 cubic feet (it’s 23.7 cubes with the seat moved forward on its track).
The rear seat’s almost good enough to gain an extra point here, and the same holds true for quality. Audi polishes the Q3’s spare cabin with bright orange trim or wood and two-tone leather, for a fee—and the woven synthetic headliner looks great and feels like it will last a million years. It’s affordably finished, with marvelous fit.
2019 Audi Q3
The Audi Q3 hasn’t been crash-tested yet.
The new Q3 hasn’t been crash-tested by either the NHTSA or the IIHS, so we’ll leave off its rating until we have some data. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Each Q3 comes with forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking. Base cars can be fitted with adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warnings, a surround-view camera system, blind-spot monitors, and front and rear parking sensors. More expensive models make some, but not all, of that standard.
Outward vision is OK in the Q3, but thick rear pillars and tall back seat headrests cut into the view to the rear quarters.
2019 Audi Q3
The Q3 has generous standard equipment and good infotainment.
Audi has pared down the Q3’s configurations for the new model year, but all are well-equipped, and the latest Audi infotainment interface works well. It’s not a stellar value, nor is its warranty notable, and options are somewhat slim.
Given all that, we score the 2019 Q3 a 7 out of 10 for features. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Standard equipment on the $35,695 Q3 Premium base model includes power features, a panoramic roof, a 10.3-inch digital instrument display and an 8.8-inch center touchscreen, LED headlights, 18-inch wheels, leather upholstery, an eight-way power driver seat, heated front seats, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility with an AM/FM receiver, and keyless ignition.
Options include a 12.3-inch gauge display—Audi’s “virtual cockpit”—and a 10.1-inch center touchscreen that accepts handwritten input, a B&O 3D sound system, adaptive cruise control and a surround-view camera system. Rear side airbags are $350; a $1,600 bundle includes satellite radio, front and rear parking sensors, lane-departure warnings and blind-spot monitors. An S line trim bundle is $1,300 and includes 19-inch wheels and aluminum door sills. Oh, and if you want anything other than white or orange paint, it’ll cost $595.
The $38,795 Premium Plus has most of what we want and few extravagances; among Q3s, it’s the value choice. It gains a power-adjustable front passenger seat, front and rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitors and lane-departure warnings, satellite radio, and full LED headlights. The S line trim package is $1,300, while navigation and the widescreen gauges with mapping are $2,000. A 15-speaker, 680-watt B&O sound system costs $850, and adaptive cruise is $800.
The $43,895 Prestige gets standard S line trim, the virtual-cockpit screen and a larger 10.1-inch center screen, the Bang & Olufsen sound system, adaptive cruise control, the surround-view camera system, and ambient interior lighting. Sport seats are $500, while orange inlay trim costs $350 and 20-inch wheels, $800.
Audi’s infotainment has moved smartly ahead with its digital gauge cluster and its Google Earth mapping, not to mention the wide screen on the center stack—which accepts handwritten input in its 10.1-inch size. Among the more complex setups we’ve sampled, Audi’s works best.
2019 Audi Q3
Gas mileage isn’t the best reason to drive an Audi Q3.
Fuel economy isn’t exactly the Audi Q3’s forte.
The EPA rates the 2019 Q3 at 19 mpg city, 27 highway, 22 combined. That’s the same combined mileage as some three-row full-size crossovers. That earns it a 4 on our scale, even with the stop/start tech baked into its turbo-4 engine and automatic transmission. (Read more about how we rate cars.)