2021 Audi Q3

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Updated: November 17, 2020

2021 Audi Q3

Not much changes for the 2021 Audi Q3, but not much needs to. This compact two-row crossover remains a favorite among shoppers for the same reasons we love it: good looks, great features, and Audi quality at attainable pricing.

Prices creep up slightly this year, a previously optional sport appearance package has been made standard, and a few more features have been made standard. The Prestige trim has been dropped, leaving just Premium and Premium Plus.

Under the hood shoppers will once again find a 2.0-liter turbocharged turbo-4 making 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. An 8-speed automatic feeds that power to the standard all-wheel-drive system.

The Q3 earns EPA ratings of 19 miles per gallon city, 27 highway, 22 combined.

Safety ratings remain a strong point for the Q3. The IIHS has named the crossover a Top Safety Pick Plus for acing all their crash tests and having excellent optional headlights. The NHTSA was also impressed with the Q3’s crashworthiness, awarding it a five-star overall crash test rating.

Standard safety equipment on the Q3 includes automatic emergency braking. Adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, active lane control, and a surround-view camera system can all be found on the options sheet.

Model Lineup

All prices include a destination charge of $995.

The Q3 is now down to just two trims this year, the cheaper of the two being the $36,995 Premium model. Standard equipment includes a power driver’s seat with lumbar support, heated front seats, paddle shifters, a panoramic roof, and 18-inch wheels. Infotainment is controlled via an 8.8-inch touchscreen that has standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality. Leather upholstery and 10-speaker audio round out the luxury touches.

The Premium Plus starts at $40,295 and is heavier with technology than the base model. Among its niceties are adaptive cruise control, wireless smartphone charging, customizable LED interior lighting, a hands-free tailgate, and keyless entry.

Exterior

Audi has long been known for its conservative but handsome styling, and the Q3 embodies that ethos. It wears the same look that’s shared with all the Qx SUVs, merely scaled down to a compact footprint. Not too compact, though—the Q3 remains one of the bigger vehicles in this class.

We think that extra size is a boon, not only for the inevitably larger cabin but also for the sense of aesthetic proportion. Unlike some small crossovers, the Q3 never looks ungainly. It’s just the contrary, in fact: the chunky little Q3 comes off as charmingly tough.

Interior

Despite the Q3 being one of Audi’s cheapest models, you’ll have to look hard for any signs of cost-cutting in the cabin. Materials are soft to the touch and switchgear is of appropriate caliber. Build quality is on par with what’s found on pricier Audis.

The centerpiece of the interior is the 8.8-inch touchscreen infotainment display. It comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality and uses Audi’s excellent MMI software. We’ve found this system easy to learn and operate, even in Audis where the only means of controlling it was through a console-mounted rotary dial. Here, the touchscreen makes navigating the menus a cinch.

A 10.3-inch digital display also serves as the instrument cluster. It offers customizable menus and crisp, high-resolution graphics.

The back seat slides fore and aft to maximize either cargo space or rear leg room. Set it for leg room and there’s 36 inches to work with, which is a healthy showing for the segment. When adjusted for cargo space, there’s almost 24 cubic feet behind the second row. Fold down the rear seatbacks and that figure jumps to 48 cubic feet.

Driving Impressions

The Q3 doesn’t masquerade as sporty, but there’s some subtle handling chops here that we would be remiss to point out. Credit for that goes to the well-tuned suspension, the all-wheel-drive system, and its squat, planted stance. The combination of all these ingredients lend the Q3 the flavor of a sporty hatch rather than a short-wheelbase crossover.

That short wheelbase would seem to suggest a choppy ride, especially over pockmarked roads, but that’s not the case. The Q3 rides like any other larger Audi: quiet, composed, and almost aloof.

The only powertrain offered with the Q3 is a 2.0-liter turbo-4, but it spins out 228 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. The well-geared 8-speed automatic makes the most of those horses, endowing the Q3 with brisk off-the-line power. Passing maneuvers can likewise be done with confidence; simply bury the pedal and let the transmission kick down a couple cogs. The Q3 will then quickly pull up to speeds worthy of a speeding ticket.

Final Word

With the Q3, Audi has proven it can take the qualities that make their larger cars so laudable and distill them into a smaller and more affordable package. The Q3 has all the traits of its pricier showroom siblings, only without their hefty sticker prices and extravagant features. It’s smart luxury in a tidy package, and we’d get ours as a Premium Plus.

 

—by Anthony Sophinos, with driving impressions from The Car Connection