2019 Audi Q3
2019 Audi Q3
The Q3, Audi’s smallest crossover SUV, begins a new generation in 2019. It expands in almost every direction—it’s longer, wider, and higher, which means big gains in interior room. The wheelbase grows by 3.8 inches to 105.5 inches, length by 4 inches to 176.6 inches, width by 0.7 inches, and height by 1.5 inches. It’s still the smallest Audi crossover, but it’s no longer small.
Meanwhile its looks are more daring, with a sculpted hood and octagonal grille taken from the full-size Audi Q8.
Most of that extended wheelbase goes to cabin space, with extra room in the back seat and up to 48 cubic feet of cargo space.
Elsewhere in the cabin, the conventional analog gauges are gone on most models, replaced by a 10.3-inch digital instrument cluster with an 8.8-inch central touchscreen.
The 2019 Q3 uses the VW Group’s latest 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, now making 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, an increase of 28 hp and 51 lb-ft over last year’s model. Even though the Q3 has gained a couple hundred pounds, it’s faster than before, with a claimed acceleration time from zero to 60 mph of 7.0 seconds, along with a top speed of 130 mph. It’s mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive. EPA-rated fuel economy is 19 mpg city, 27 highway, 22 combined.
But maybe the best thing about the new Q3 is the handling, which is quite nimble. It’s the most tossable Audi after the TT.
The new Q3 hasn’t been crash-tested by either the NHTSA or the IIHS yet. It comes standard with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, while adaptive cruise control, active lane control, lane-departure warnings, blind-spot monitors, a surround-view camera system, front and rear parking sensors, and rear side airbags are available, and standard on the top Prestige model. Also optional is a system that parks the Q3 at the touch of a button.
The new Q3 comes in three versions: Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige. The Premium is well-equipped, with few options.
For $35,695 the Premium comes with power features, leather upholstery, LED running lights, panoramic roof, a 10.3-inch digital instrument display with 8.8-inch touchscreen, 18-inch wheels, eight-way power driver seat, heated front seats, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility with AM/FM receiver, and keyless ignition.
Options include a 12.3-inch gauge display—Audi’s “virtual cockpit”—and a 10.1-inch center touchscreen that accepts handwritten input. Also an upgraded Bang & Olufsen sound system; a $1,600 bundle includes satellite radio, front and rear parking sensors, lane-departure warnings and blind-spot monitors. An S line trim bundle is $1,300 and includes 19-inch wheels and aluminum door sills.
The $38,795 Premium Plus adds a power-adjustable front passenger seat, front and rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitors and lane-departure warnings, satellite radio, and full LED headlights. The S line trim package is $1,300, while navigation and the widescreen gauges with mapping are $2,000. A 15-speaker, 680-watt Bang & Olufsen sound system costs $850, and adaptive cruise control is $800.
The $43,895 Prestige gets standard S line trim, the virtual-cockpit screen and a larger 10.1-inch center screen, the Bang & Olufsen sound system, adaptive cruise control, the surround-view camera system, and ambient interior lighting. Sport seats are $500, while orange inlay trim costs $350 and 20-inch wheels, $800.
The new Q3, despite being larger, is stubby and has lots of lines that streak down its sides. It appears more substantial than the previous version, especially in back where its sculpted fenders suggest Bentley, of all things. The face features vertical air intakes and grille ribs, while the LED headlights cut keyholes into the hood and fenders. The optional 20-inch wheels barely tuck into the wheel wells.
Even the Q3’s base interior has nice leather and handsome aluminum trim. In the Premier Plus and Prestige, a 10.1-inch touchscreen dominates the dash, wrapped in a thin silver hexagon that echoes the crossover’s grille. The attractive high-definition screen dances with moving Google Earth maps; some versions wear day-glow orange trim that’s banded across the dash. We’d still call it “spare,” even with optional bright orange trim or wood and two-tone leather. A woven synthetic headliner looks great and is finished with marvelous fit.
The infotainment interface has also improved; in fact, we’d say it’s the best of the complex infotainment systems we’ve experienced. Audi’s latest system includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, along with Google Earth for the available navigation system. A 15-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system is also available.
Heated front seats are standard. The driver’s seat is power-adjustable on the Premier, but it takes the other models to get power for the passenger. We didn’t get a chance to try the Premier seat, as our seat time was spent in the upscale sport seats, which come in supple dark leather.
The back seat slides on a track of 5.9 inches, for very good flexibility between passengers and cargo. With the seat slid back, there’s 18.7 cubic feet of cargo space; with it forward, there’s 23.7 cubic feet. The seatback folds down for 48 cubic feet of cargo space.
There’s good head room and outboard shoulder room with three passengers in the rear, but the middle seat is narrow, so three people won’t be comfortable for long trips.
The Q3 nails it in the important areas of power and handling, with more speed and agility despite more weight, a total of about 3,900 pounds. Its torque increase of 51 pound-feet of torque makes a huge difference. The 8-speed automatic transmission is smooth enough on the upshift, when it’s in automatic mode, but manual upshifts can be more abrupt.
It’s the cornering that sets the Q3 apart. It’s so nimble it might be considered tossable. It’s very easy to drive with spirit in the twisties, like a VW GTI. The all-wheel-drive system helps in stability; it’s not designed so much for all-weather traction, but it sure doesn’t hurt in ice and snow.
There are driving modes that alter the character of the car at any moment or setting, and the powertrain can be sharpened; but the Q3 is so good in its normal setting that Sport mode doesn’t make much difference. The handling is agile, eager and fluid. It’s also reassuring and comforting, like so many VW Group compact cars.
Its ride doesn’t stray from the Audi A4 sedan or larger Q5 crossover, showing a similar pleasant tautness and composure over bumps and in switchbacks. There’s not much feedback in the steering, but any numbness doesn’t detract from the nimbleness, and it stays centered on the road.
The available 20-inch wheels and tires don’t detract much from the agility, but they definitely don’t ride as well as the smaller recommended wheels and tires.
Bravo for the 2019 Audi Q3, especially for its engine and handling. It’s as close to a GTI as the Audi brand should allow, and it’s blessed with much more usable space that complements that sharp driving character. Take the sport seats, take the larger digital gauges—and take off.