The Audi Q3 is a subcompact crossover that plays in the premium segment with vehicles like the Acura BMW X1, Cadillac XT4, Lexus UX, Lincoln Corsair, and Mercedes-Benz GLA. Last redesigned in 2019, the Q3 gets a new infotainment system for 2022. It is offered as an all-wheel drive, 4-door wagon with 5-passenger capacity.
Two models are available: 40 TFSI and 45 TFSI. The 40 comes with a 184-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter engine. The 45 gets a 228-horsepower version of that engine. Both mate to an 8-speed automatic and come standard with Audi's Quattro all-wheel drive system.
Trim levels include Premium or Premium Plus. Standard safety features include forward-collision warning with brake intervention, blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning and front- and rear-parking sensors. Also standard are LED headlights, panoramic sunroof, tri-zone climate control, digital gauge cluster, and leather upholstery. A convenience package that adds hands-free liftgate, auto-dimming and power-folding exterior mirrors, keyless entry, driver-seat memory, and satellite radio is offered on the Premium. Premium Plus models include that convenience package and add wireless charging, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist and 360-degree camera system. Offered on the Premium Plus is a technology package. Prices start at $38,000 and climb to $44,000.
Though the more-powerful 2.0-liter four can push the Q3 from 0 to 60 MPH in a respectable 7.5 seconds, the Q3 is more about driving comfort than it is about performance. The standard engine, feels okay around town, but lacks the passing punch of the more-powerful motor on the 45.
Both engines mate to an 8-speed automatic transmission. While it provides smooth upshifts, the transmission is reluctant to downshift in passing situations. Also, the transmission quickly upshifts for best fuel economy, resulting in a sleepy feeling at times.
Audi's Quattro all-wheel drive is one of the best light-duty systems available. It quickly shuffles power to the wheels with the most grip to provide the best available acceleration. It works well in snow to limit wheel spin. However, it is not suited for extreme off-road driving.
The 40 is EPA rated at 23 MPG city and 30 MPG highway. The 45 gets EPA ratings of 21 MPG city and 28 MPG highway. Those numbers equal most competitors, but while others require premium-grade fuel, Audi says regular-grade fuel is okay on the Q3. The 15.9-gallon fuel tank provides about 400 miles of range between fill-ups.
With a definitive comfort bias, the Q3 is definitely not a sporty crossover. That's not to say It's a chore to drive, only that sport minded drivers may want to consider the BMW X1. Still, the Q3 is nimble in cut-and-thrust driving and doesn't shy away from twisty on-ramps. There's a definite front-drive bias at the limit as the Q3 understeers benignly when drivers enter a turn too quickly. At least the steering is precise, and the brakes have good stopping power and an easy-to-modulate pedal.
On the flip side, the ride is quite comfortable for a subcompact crossover. While most in the class have a somewhat choppy ride that's upset by Chicago's frost-heaved pavement, the Q3 quietly goes about its business with plenty of suspension travel and good ride control.
Interior noise levels are quite reasonable. Wind, tire, and road noise are nicely kept in check at all speeds.
The Q3's interior is typical Audi - dark materials, extremely functional, and expertly crafted. Materials are price appropriate, and the switchgear has a Teutonic feel that exudes premium engineering. It's also got good outward visibility big windows, thin roof pillars, and short hood.
The front seats are well cushioned and provide a modicum of support in spirited driving. The seating position is upright and provides an excellent and comfortable driving position. Head room is quite good and leg room exceptional -- given the Q3's diminutive exterior dimensions. The rear seats are also nicely padded. While there is ample headroom for rear-seat occupants, knee space is scarce and there's not enough width for comfortable 3-abreast seating. Entry/exit is a snap thanks to wide door openings and a modest step in.
On the tech side, the A3 has all of the expected safety goodies -- though a few like adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist and 360 camera are not offered on the base trim. The new infotainment system is a huge step forward. Operated by either an 8.8- of 10.1-inch touchscreen, it greatly simplifies input, has a beautiful map screen, and seamlessly integrates wireless Android Auto and Apple Car Play.
The Q3 does the most with its limited cargo dimensions. Seats up there's a generous 34 cubic feet of space, but seats down the Q3 only offers 48 cubes, which is down a few to competitors. At least there's a flat load floor and small compartments on either side to secure small bags, plus a security shade that can be removed to provide more space if needed. Interior small-item storage is minimal and a wireless cell-phone charger is available.
Bottom Line -- From its subdued styling to its mediocre engines, the Q3 won't jump out at buyers clamoring for a premium subcompact crossover. Still, it's the details that Audi gets right. The comfortable ride, the quiet interior, the elegant switchgear all combine to make the Q3 more appealing as your time behind the wheel grows. While some others in the class offer more flash, the Q3 is in it for the long-term play.