2015 Audi Q3 Review
Audi's entry level crossover strikes the proper balance.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: November 26th, 2014
The Audi Q3 is the latest addition to Audi's rather large fleet of models, hot on the heels of the new A3, which is Audi's most down market car. Unlike the A3, which is a fine car but is too plain to feel like an Audi, the Q3 takes the VW Tiguan, itself one of the better crossovers on the market, and upscales it the Audi way.
As you might expect, the exterior design of the Q3 is very much in line with the Q5 and Q7. It has the same aggressive grille, same high-waisted belt line, same sloped hatchback. Only on the Q3 the proportions don't seem so out of whack.
Audi's new narrower head- and taillights look especially nice on the Q3, and the car performs the rather nifty illusion of actually looking bigger than it is, at least from a distance. Probably this is because of its close similarity to the Q5 and the Q7, but when you get closer, it becomes clear that the Q3 is much closer to station wagon proportions, while still having the big, tough, outdoorsy look that people can't seem to help but love.
The Q3's interior is, of course, not dissimilar to that of the Q5, with a few exceptions. The biggest sacrifice made to the Q3's smaller size is the familiar Audi MMI control knob; it's been turned into a small plastic knob amid an array of controls directly below the CD player.
Everything works the same way, and there are the same four buttons that usually surround the center knob, so usability isn't a factor, only ergonomics. It's much easier, and far less distracting, to use a knob in the center console than one that you have to look for amid a wall of controls.
The display screen is dash-mounted, as it is on the A3, but it looks sturdier in the Q3, although the in-dash presentation in the Q5 is much classier. Audi buyers will still have to deal with the annoying MMI connector (which Audi promises will disappear - at last -- with the 2016 model year), but the interface remains one of the more simple and user-friendly on the market.
The Q3's cabin is roomy and there's enough space for both front and back seat passengers to kick back a bit. Storage is limited with the second-row seats up, but fold them down and the Q3 is big enough for anything from a bicycle to a large-screen TV.
And if there's a single vehicle that can't be greatly improved by the addition of a panoramic sunroof, it sure isn't this one.
On the Road
The nicest thing about the Q3 is that its small size means it drives much more like something you'd actually want to drive than other crossovers. The 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four pushes out an impressive 200 horses, and although the Q3 doesn't manage to be as sporty as say, a BMW 3-series wagon, it's as sporty as any crossover costing under $40,000 has any right to be.
Audi offers three drive modes: comfort, dynamic, and auto, although we can't say we ever took it out of the default mode enough to really speak to their individual characteristics, it is worth noting that the default mode provided us with a well-balanced driving experience. The Q3 strikes the proper balance between lively lane-darting and comfortable cruising, and the steering and handling are capable of moving from one to the other without the need for a mode change.
The Q3 integrates aluminum into the chassis (hood, tailgate, and suspension pieces), which no doubt helps the Q3 earn its impressive fuel economy rating of 20 city and 28 highway. We'd opt for a TDI ourselves, just to make it that much more efficient, but a 23 mph average for a car this size is nothing to turn up your nose at.
The Q3 is the perfect size for a crossover; it offers enough utility for a young family, but it's small enough and versatile enough that it can be parked anywhere without difficulty, although a backup camera is definitely recommended, as the sight lines are far from optimal. Overall, the Q3 is a great value and there's fun to be had behind the wheel. We can't think of another crossover we'd rather be in.
Specs & Prices
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four
Transmission: Six-speed automatic.
Drivetrain Layout: Front engine, front-wheel drive.
Power Output: 200 hp / 207 lb-ft
Fuel Economy (mpg): 20 city / 28 highway
Price (base): $34,600
Price (as tested):
$39,175 (includes $800 delivery fee)
Audio MM Navigation, CD/DVD player with HD radio, 19-inch all-season tires, power tailgate, panoramic sunroof, heated front seats, xenon plus headlights with LED, rain and light sensor.
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2015 Audi Q3, click here: 2015 Audi Q3.