2021 Audi Q3

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The Car Connection
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Aaron Cole Aaron Cole Managing Editor
March 3, 2021

Buying tip

The Q3 Premium Plus makes available options that we’d prefer to have on a luxury utility vehicle. Go there and go all out.

features & specs

Premium 40 TFSI quattro
Premium Plus 40 TFSI quattro
S line Premium 45 TFSI quattro
22 city / 30 hwy
22 city / 30 hwy
20 city / 28 hwy

The 2021 Audi Q3 is bulky but not brash, with good tech and space inside for passengers and gear.

We’re keen on small crossovers like the 2021 Audi Q3, and by looking at the road outside our windows, everyone else is too.

This year, the Q3 returns and it’s largely the same as last year, except the price. The 2021 Audi Q3 nets a 6.5 TCC Rating, propelled by good safety scores and standard features. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Audi offers Premium and Premium Plus versions of the Q3, starting from $36,995. New this year is a standard sporty appearance package (which was optional last year) and a small shuffle among features.

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What hasn’t changed? The Q3’s big proportions compared to others in its class, and its sedate style that we think will wear well. The Q3 relies on the same 2.0-liter turbo-4 that makes 228 horsepower teamed to an 8-speed automatic and all-wheel drive.

The Q3’s best gifts are inside, where it’s comfortable and svelte despite its 2-ton heft. Rear seat passengers get more than 36 inches of leg room, which is admirable among its contemporaries. Behind the rear seats, the Q3 holds up to 23.7 cubic feet of cargo (with the rear seats slid back for more passenger comfort that figure drops to 18.7 cubic feet). With the seats down that space expands to 48 cubic feet, which in our testing was only hampered by a stylish roofline that descends toward the rear liftgate.

In addition to top NHTSA safety scores, the Q3 gets standard automatic emergency braking and lane-departure warnings to complement those crash-test scores.

A 10.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 8.8-inch touchscreen are standard on all Q3s. Same goes for wireless Apple CarPlay (sorry Android users, bring a cord) and leather upholstery. The Q3 beams with luxury touches that we’d expect for its $37,000 starting price, but spending more gets a lot more. Bigger wheels, better audio, and nicer interior shades are all on the menu and we’re hungry for all of the above.

If $40,000 makes you wince for Audi’s smallest crossover, perhaps its bigger size over the competition will cushion the blow?


2021 Audi Q3


The 2021 Q3’s style is on the QT, good or bad.

It won’t raise many pulses but won’t raise many eyebrows either. The 2021 Audi Q3 doesn’t change much from a reboot just a couple years ago; this year an S Line appearance package that adds sportier wheels and aluminum accents is standard that was optional last year.

Starting from an average score, the Q3 gets one point above the mean for a handsome interior. It’s a 6.

The exterior is crisp and clean, not too many bad angles at all—even though there aren’t many angles anyway. We like the Q3’s big grille and bigger wheels to fill the arches, which helps give the bulky SUV some athleticism.

Inside, the Q3 shows off better in elegant materials and a flush touchscreen that “hides” when the car is turned off. (It really just fades to black like the rest of the dash.)

It’s subtle but stylish, and the antidote to wall-of-screen SUVs that hit us with more to look at than walking into Graceland.

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2021 Audi Q3


Power is ample and ready in the 2021 Q3.

In terms of powertrain, the 2021 Audi Q3 does all of the thinking for you. That’s probably a good thing. Picking out a color for your Q3? Another story.

Just one engine, one transmission, and one way to drive the wheels is available this year; luckily for shoppers, they’re all good.

Starting from an average score, the Q3 gets points above average for its tight handling and spunky turbo-4. It’s a 7 for performance.

The Q3 in S Line trim is driven by a 2.0-liter turbo-4 that makes 228 hp and 258 pound-feet of torque, good for a 0-60 mph time of 7.0 seconds. (Don’t ask us where the “45” comes from on the badge.) That's in its higher spec: A new lower-output turbo-4 makes 184 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque, which Audi pegs with a 0-60 mph time of 8.6 seconds. It's less expensive but also less common, for now—so it doesn't cost the Q3 a performance point.

The engines pair up to an 8-speed automatic and all-wheel drive on every model that sashays its way into our good graces with fat chunks of power despite its small size. 

It handles well, and we’ve found that it can dart around town without much of a fuss. Its turning circle is relatively small too, which is a boon for “where are we going?” moments that always tend to come up.

Despite its big standard 18- or 19-inch wheels, the Q3 is collected on crappy roads, which is something that few competitors can tout.

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2021 Audi Q3

Comfort & Quality

Audi’s smallest crossover is still big, and that’s better for cargo and people.

Small crossovers are harder to nail down like good cheese or great wine—sometimes it’s a matter of taste.

The 2021 Audi Q3 is bigger than competitors, which helps space but could be troublesome for city dwellers looking for a smaller ride to park in narrow spaces.

We give the Q3 a 7 for comfort thanks to its comfy rear seats and good cargo space.

Leather upholstery isn’t only nice, it’s the only way Audi sells the Q3. In the pint-size ‘ute, the seats adjust in multiple directions, but the standard seats are only OK.

The rear seats will comfortably fit two adults, including 36.1 inches of rear seat leg room. The rear bench slides fore and aft a few inches for better comfort or cargo space and the rear seat back tumbles down easily.

With the rear seats up, and pushed all the way back for more leg room, the Q3 holds 18.7 cubic feet of cargo. Slide the second row up and that space grows to 23.7 cubic feet, although there’s a small cargo moat between the floor and seat backs that would just love to hide smaller items. With the rear seats folded, the Q3 holds 48 cubes of cargo, which is bigger than the Mercedes-Benz GLA Class but smaller than the BMW X1.

The Q3 impresses with its materials and finishes right down to the base version but spending more nets more.

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2021 Audi Q3


The 2021 Q3 has an enviable safety scorecard.

Stellar safety ratings and good available options slingshot the 2021 Audi Q3 up our safety scale. Federal testers gave it five stars overall, including four stars for front- and rollover-crash safety. But the IIHS no longer calls it a Top Safety Pick, as it did last year.

Still, with standard automatic emergency braking and lane-departure warnings, the Q3 nets an 8 for safety.

Blind-spot monitors are available and recommended. Other additional safety features include optional surround-view camera systems and adaptive cruise control, which can speed up or slow down the car on highways. Active lane control is available, and Audi’s system performs well. It keeps the Q3 centered in its lane without pinballing from side to side.

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2021 Audi Q3


It’s not cheap, but the 2021 Q3 is better equipped than many other small crossovers.

We’re not math majors, so you’ll have to excuse the following funky formula: The 2021 Q3’s addition by subtraction nets nearly the same car that was offered last year.

The top Q3 Prestige is gone for now and that’s a shame because we thought it was the one to get. What’s left is Q3 Premium and Q3 Premium Plus that costs $36,995 and $40,295 to start, respectively.

Base cars get a 10.3-inch digital instrument cluster, an 8.8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, active safety features (covered above) heated front seats, 18-inch wheels, a panoramic sunroof, leather upholstery, and LED headlights. That’s good equipment, especially the touchscreen, and the Q3 gets a 7 for features.

The step up Q3 Premium Plus adds adaptive cruise control, LED interior lights and more available options including premium audio, bigger wheels, a surround-view camera system, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, 10.1-inch touchscreen, and interior upgrades. At more than $40,000 before options, it’s a big ask, but the Q3 Premium Plus is bigger than most of its competitors and nearly as useful as size-up crossovers that command much more money.

Wireless Apple CarPlay is included on all Q3s now and it is heaven-sent. Not only is it safer to connect your phone then stash it in the armrest, but also Audi’s wireless charger can boost your signal. It’s the best of both worlds, and Audi’s Apple CarPlay presentation is slick and uses the whole screen. Bully for Audi.

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2021 Audi Q3

Fuel Economy

For a small crossover, the 2021 Q3 needs a lot of fuel.

For a small crossover, the 2021 Audi Q3 returns disappointing fuel economy; the size-up Q5 even rates higher according to the EPA.

Official data isn’t yet available for 2021, but based on the crossover’s similarities with last year’s version, we feel confident carrying over those scores.

The EPA says base Q3s rate 22 mpg city, 30 highway, 25 combined. That’s 4 on our scale. The S-Line turbo-4's rated at 20/28/23 mpg.

Competitors do better, but they’re also smaller. The Mercedes-Benz GLA Class nets 25 mpg combined with all-wheel drive, and the BMW X1 manages 26 mpg combined with all-wheel drive, according to the EPA.

The good news? The Q3 doesn’t ask for premium fuel, the others do.

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MSRP based on Premium 40 TFSI quattro
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Expert Rating
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Styling 6
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 7
Safety 8
Features 7
Fuel Economy 4
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