Review: 2015 Audi Q3 2.0T quattro

by Paul Strauss
Review: 2015 Audi Q3 2.0T quattrozoom in

    2015 Audi Q3 2.0T quattro

  • Powertrain: 200hp, 2.0L turbocharged 4-cyl engine, 6-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission
  • 0-to-60 Time (secs): 7.8
  • Top Speed (mph): 130
  • City/Hwy/Combined MPG: 20/28 (23 combined)
  • Curb Weight (lb): ~3,500
  • Wheelbase (in): 102.5
  • Width (in): 72.1
  • Base Price (USD): $34,600
  • Price as Tested (USD): $39,175

The Audi Q3 is a compact crossover that’s been in production for a few years overseas, but has just made its way to the U.S. and Canada. Despite its small footprint, it seats five, and it’s an ideal choice for small families and for first-time Audi buyers. Here in the states, it comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged model with either front-wheel drive or quattro all-wheel drive – the latter being the model I tested.

From outside, the Q3 captures the design ethos of the Audi brand, with sculpted modern xenon headlights, signature LED running lights and a trapezoidal singleframe grille, punctuated by Audi’s iconic four-circle logo. Bright aluminum trim is plentiful, appearing on the window trim and roof rack, as well as around the grille. Because it’s lower to the ground than larger SUVs, the Q3 has a more sporty look as well, which makes it more youthful than either of its bigger brethren – the Q5 and Q7. Riding on upgraded 19″ double-spoke alloy wheels further drives home the point.

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In terms of driving characteristics, the Q3 is best described as “lively.” Its 200 horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine offers plentiful acceleration with no noticeable turbo lag. It seemed particularly adept in urban everyday driving situations – stop/start traffic, on-ramps, highways, shopping, etc. Handling is smooth and comfortable, even on potholes and speedbumps, and the steering feels just right for the vehicle. While it’s not as firm as a sports car, it provides plenty of road feedback, while offering just the right amount of power assistance. The Q3 is available in either a front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive quattro configuration, and while I can’t speak to the front-wheel model, the AWD performed admirably, providing confidence-instilling cornering even on a nasty combination of slush and rain that hit Chicago right in the middle of my test period.

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Inside, the Q3 benefits from Audi’s exceptional eye for sporty, yet pragmatic design, with intelligently placed controls and premium styling. The heated leather seats offer 12-way electric adjustment, providing plenty of flexibility for getting your seat position just right, whether you’re the driver or the front-seat passenger. Aluminum trim can be found throughout the dash, doors, and center console, further enhancing the look of the cabin. Other nice touches include LED ambient lighting, and keyless start/stop.

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The standard panoramic moonroof offers tons of light and makes the cabin feel bright and airy. Its front section opens, and features an electrically-retractable sunshade which still allows some light in even when closed. Dual-zone automatic climate control is also standard.

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Seating space is good for a vehicle of its size, offering space for five adults. Rear seat legroom is above average, though with the front seats back to seat six-foot or taller passengers, your knees might touch the backs of the front seats. In back there’s enough storage for several suitcases or groceries for a family of four, and the rear seat folds in a 60/40 split configuration to offer a total of 48.2 cubic feet of storage. There’s also an optional power tailgate.

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You’ll definitely want to opt for the Audi MMI Navigation Plus system, which includes turn-by-turn directions, a CD/DVD player, AM/FM/HD/Satellite radio, Bluetooth and a Wi-Fi hotspot. Despite the 7-inch eye-level screen not offering a touchscreen, I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to use the interface and its simple scroll-wheel interactions. The navigation system also offers integrated traffic and weather information. Audio is provided by a 10-speaker Audi Concert Radio, which offers plentiful volume and clean sound, but you can optionally upgrade to a 465-watt, 14 speaker Bose system if you want even more punch. One item of note is that I couldn’t get the MMI system to display track information from my iPhone 6 Plus over Bluetooth. There’s likely a workaround for this, but I didn’t take the time to hunt one down.

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While there are two 12-volt outlets, Audi doesn’t include a USB port as standard on the Q3 – instead, it comes with an MMI interface port, which can connect to a variety of different devices (i.e. 30-pin iOS, USB, Lightning) but other than the 30-pin, the cables are sold separately. I’d negotiate with my dealer to throw in the cable(s) for my specific devices.

I was surprised that the base Q3 doesn’t bundle a backup camera like many cars do these days, but if you go with the Prestige package, you’ll not only get the backup camera and MMI Nav Plus and Bose audio systems, you’ll get rear parking sensors, as well as Audi’s side assist feature, which alerts to vehicles in your blind spot. If I were to buy a Q3, I would definitely go for the Prestige quattro model, as it’s got all of the bells and whistles, and starts just North of $36,000.

Overall, I really enjoyed my time with the Audi Q3, and I think that Audi has a real winner on its hands here.. It’s a great little compact utility vehicle, with sporty styling and a comfortable, well appointed cabin for both driver and passengers. Despite its small engine block, it’s surprisingly zippy too, and a pleasure to drive around town and in the country too. Anyone in the market for a compact family vehicle that benefits from German engineering prowess should definitely check out the Q3.

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