The Audi Q3 is a subcompact luxury crossover that has been available since 2015. It's currently the smallest and lowest priced Audi crossover starting at $38,700 for 2023. The second generation launched in 2018 with styling that continues to carry on. It's available as either the Q3 40 TFSI or the Q3 45 TFSI. Q3 40 models come with a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder that generates 184 horsepower. Q3 45 models get the same powertrain tuned to deliver 228-horsepower. All models mate to an 8-speed automatic and come standard with Audi's Quattro all-wheel drive system. Two trim levels are available on each model known as Premium and Premium Plus.
Coming in 2023 will be new standard features and technologies such as Full LED headlights with DRL signatures and the integration of a wireless phone charging pad. New 18-inch Y-Spoke design wheels along with 19 and 20-inch V-design wheels will be available as part of a new Black optic package on the Q3 40 Premium. The Q3 45 adds a new 20-inch 5-double-spoke rotor design wheel with summer tires as an option on top of the Black optic sport package. The new black optic sport package is a $1,700 option.
As Audi's entry-level crossover, the Q3 competes with other similarly sized and priced vehicles such as the Acura RDX, BMW X1/X2/X3, Cadillac XT4, Lexus UX/NX, Lincoln Corsair, Mercedes-Benz GLA, Volvo XC40. I spent time in an Audi Q3 S line 45 TFSI Quattro that checked in at $47,040 and here's what stood out...
Exterior Style (+/-)
In this growing segment of vehicles, each competitor has a unique look. The Audi Q3 falls somewhere in the middle of obscurity and polarizing with a conservative, but modern design. Up front is an extra-large trapezoidal front grille flanked by Audi's signature LED headlights. The front fascia looks angry and bold with a style that aligns with the rest of the Audi SUV lineup. The side profile has a simple egg-like shape with a rounded roofline. Windows are outlined in chrome and details are minimal. Around back is a rounded tailgate with LED taillights and a large rear window. Proportions are good with minimal overhangs, and a balanced height/width ratio. It has an understated presence that is non-offensive in its design, but also lacks a spark that makes it stand out (if that's something you prefer). On the plus side, the Q3 is a well-built crossover with tight gaps and solid doors that feel safe when you close them.
Wheel Designs (+/-)
I'm happy to see that Audi is updating some wheel options for 2023. My 2022 model was fitted with 19-inch 5-double-spoke S design wheels which had a bit more edge to them than the standard 18-inch alloys. There are four designs to choose from in either 18 or 19-inch sizes. All have a similar five-star design that feels more generic compared to other Audi wheels. Both Audi and its parent company, Volkswagen, have designed some of my favorite wheels on the market, but the options available in 2022 fell short for me.
My time was spent in the Q3 45 with a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder that pumped out 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Audi estimates a 0-60 time of around 7 seconds which is average in this class. There's just enough power to merge on the highway or pass traffic, but it's not an overly peppy ride and does experience a turbo-lag. This one is less about performance and more about comfort. There is an S mode available that will provide a little more driving engagement if desired. Look to the BMW or Volvo models for a more sport-oriented drive.
The 8-speed automatic is smooth as it shifts upwards through the gears, however it doesn't downshift like others to amplify power in passing situations. The ride is smooth with a soft MacPherson strut suspension to absorb road imperfections. Steering is direct and responsive. It handles well through corners with good composure and little body lean. The Q3 shines best in an urban setting with its small stature, nimbleness, and quick bursts of acceleration.
AWD Quattro (+)
Audi's history with its AWD Quattro system is evident and the Q3 benefits from this automatic system. It kicks in when needed without much effort from the driver. Quattro intuitively sends power to all four wheels and delivers power to the wheels with the most grip, maximizing traction in wet-weather conditions. Audi tunes this system specifically to each model that has it and this standard feature will prove beneficial to those in the Midwest with all kinds of weather. Quattro does not include a low range for more significant off-roading.
Fuel Economy (+)
When it arrived with a full 15.9-gallon tank, it offered a range of nearly 400 miles. The Q3 45 gets an estimated 21/28/24 MPG city/highway/combined. Q3 40 models will get slightly better at 22/30/26 MPG city/highway/combined. These ratings are good for the class, and it runs on regular grade fuel. After a week of primarily suburban driving, I averaged 23 MPG.
Hopping inside, drivers will be welcomed by one of the most refined cabins in the segment. The design is simple, elegant, and filled with above-average materials. Drivers will face a standard 10.25-inch digital gauge cluster with a variety of settings to adjust the view, including a full-view map. Information stemming from Audi connect such as traffic sign recognition will also pop up on the digital cluster. The steering wheel has a sporty design and includes audio controls. The infotainment screen is embedded into the dash with a slight angle toward the driver. A traditional gear selector was refreshing along with functional placements for mobile devices and beverages. A mix of materials blend well together and convey a sense of luxury. The available panoramic sunroof is big and lets in plenty of natural lighting. Audi paid attention to the details and built a solid interior that looks good and feels refined.
Standard on the Q3 is an 8.8-inch digital infotainment touchscreen that flows within the
dash. An available 12.3-inch (seen in my test model) is part of the $2,700 technology package. Both displays feature Audi's MMI infotainment system that is straightforward to operate and filled with techy features. It includes haptic touch feedback which confirms you've touched the selected icon. It generally works well but can be finicky in colder temperature situations in which it is non-responsive or delayed. The system also incorporates gesture controls, handwriting recognition, swipe controls, and an actual audio control dial for those who prefer the old-school technology of turning a dial. Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa are available as part of the technology package along with a SONOS premium sound system with 3D sound. Other available features include a top view camera system, LED interior lighting, Audi phone box, and an alarm with motion sensor.
The Q3 seats up to five people across two rows. Front seats are comfortable, supportive and provide good visibility. There's plenty of head and leg room up front to find a comfortable position. Leather and power-adjustable heated front seats are also standard. Rear seats comfortably accommodated my three kids (ages 6,10, and 14) but there wasn't much room to spare. There is decent head and shoulder room, but legroom was tightest in the back. Rear seats also slide forward/back and recline which was a bonus for the kids in back.
Cargo Capacity (+/-)
Like many in this class, cargo capacity is minimal and the Q3 provides 23.7 cubic feet behind the second row and 48 cubic feet with the second-row seats folded flat. It's slightly above average for the class. The rear cargo area includes two side compartments, a flat floor to help maximize the space that it does offer. A power liftgate is standard while a hands-free power liftgate is optional.
Safety / Driver Assist (+)
For 2022, Audi added more standard driver-assistance features which includes pre sense front collision detection with brake assist, hill descent control, high beam assist, park assist, blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic assist and lane departure warning. Additional features are available within the $3,300 Premium Plus package that include adaptive cruise control with lane guidance, alarm system with motion sensor, and 360-degree camera system.
The Q3 provides buyers a refined entry into the Audi brand. The Q3 focuses on driver comfort from its interior design and materials to its performance under the hood. While it may not be the most athletic, it delivers a respectable performance that will please most drivers. It resembles a mini version of the Q8 with a bold front-end design and a strong stance. The rest of it could use an exterior refresh, but it still manages to look handsome among the crowd. As a total package, Audi delivers on the details making the Q3 one worth looking at.
First Impression Summary:
Test Vehicle: 2022 Audi Q3 S line 45 TFSI Quattro
Exterior Color: Chronos Gray Metallic
Interior Color: Okapi Brown Leather
Notable Options: Chronos Gray Paint ($595), Premium Plus Package ($3,300), Technology Package ($2,700), and 19" Wheel Package ($800)
Price Adjustment: -$250 for Audi Phone Box which wasn't available.
MSRP as tested (including delivery & processing fees): $47,040