Though they haven’t been around all that long, the rapid popularity and growth of car-base crossover utilities has been nothing short of amazing. With every type of brand, including ultra-luxury and high-performance, wanting a piece of the action. What’s trending right now is the move to make luxury utes ever smaller. And that’s just where this Audi Q3 fits in.
It has been hard to keep up with the almost overwhelming number of new, small luxury crossovers of late. So that’s our excuse for just now getting around to a full test of this 2016 Audi Q3, which actually started arrived here at the end of the 20-15 model year.
Some may be turned off by the Q3’s interior. Compared to the X1, GLA, and even the Lexus NX, it is a bit smaller. You sure feel like space up front is at a premium and that you sit too close the passenger beside you. Plus those seats are a little hard.
Also the dull looking dash and door materials don’t live up to the lofty Audi heights we’re used to; capped off by a bargain basement sounding audio.
But some perspective is in order, as we’re talking a sub-$40,000 Audi here.
On the plus side, the layout is highly intelligent, and everything works like a charm, and the dash top location of the navigation display is perfect. And at least there’s a standard back-up camera. Costlier rivals often make that an option.
Rear seat space is more on par for the class, with good head and acceptable legroom. Cargo space is quite good too at 16.7 cubic-ft. seats up, and 48.2 seats down. The cargo area is well appointed and a power lift gate is optional.
The Q3 starts to make even more sense once you get underway. There’s a high seating position and the Q3’s extremely stable ride quality has it feeling more like a real multi-purpose vehicle. Most others in this segment remind us more of bloated hatchbacks. Plus, handling is still Audi great, bumps are soaked up well, and all-in-all it’s very comfortable and enjoyable drive.
Power comes from Volkswagen’s latest 2.0-liter I4 turbo, now delivering 200-horsepower with 207 lb-ft. of torque. It’s simply a great motor! Attached to it is a 6-speed Tiptronic automatic, and quattro all-wheel-drive should you so choose.
At the test track, our quattro-assisted Q3 sprang to 60 in a fine 7.7-seconds. There is a hint of turbo lag, as things get much more interesting once you get rolling; though smooth and lazy shifting kept ¼-mile times to 16.1-seconds at 89 miles-per-hour.
Through the cones, the Tiguan-based Q3 felt light, tossable, and plenty nimble. And that will only get better with next gen, which we assume will use VW’s MQB architecture; and that won’t be that far off as this Q3 debuted in Europe for 20-12.
Body roll is minimal, while the electric assisted steering is quick, light, and direct; but offers little feel. On the braking front, we averaged a short 115-foot stopping distance from 60, with a nice firm pedal even though ABS noise was fairly pronounced.
Q3 styling is quite attractive for a small ute, looking every bit a part of the Audi clan with an aggressive front and slanted rear. Another bonus is that a panoramic sunroof comes standard.
It also comes equipped with 18-inch wheels, satin finish roof rails, a rear spoiler, twin chrome exhaust tips, and LED daytime running lights.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are more in line with SUVs as well, 20-City, 28-Highway, and 23-Combined. We consider our average of 24.8 miles-per-gallon of Premium good, but not stellar for a 4-banger. Still, the Energy Impact Score rates average at 14.3-barrels of annual oil use with CO2 emissions of 6.4-tons.
Pricing starts at a reasonable $34,625. Our Premium Plus quattro tester, at $36,725.
There’s much to like about the 2016 Audi Q3. It may not be our favorite small, luxury crossover, but except for some interior shortcomings, it’s a fine candidate. Well-equipped from the get go, substantial in feel, yet with the excellent road manners Audi is known for. If that fits your crossover wish list, then this Q is for you.
Engine: 2.0 liter
Torque: 207 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 7.7 seconds
1/4 mile: 16.1 seconds @ 89 mph
EPA: 20 mpg city / 28 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 14.3 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 6.4 tons/yr