2018 Audi Q3

2018 Audi Q3 Review

The Q3 impresses with a lot of features for the price but suffers from subpar performance and tech.
6.9 / 10
Edmunds overall rating
author
by Cameron Rogers
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

Buying or leasing a subcompact premium crossover is a great way for you to own a top-tier luxury-branded vehicle without paying much money. But while these vehicles feature attractive starting prices, the price adds up quickly once you start tacking on expected luxury-oriented features such as leather seating or a sunroof. Luckily, somebody must have forgotten to tell Audi because the 2018 Q3 is feature-rich and much less expensive than its rivals.

In its base form, the Q3 comes with leather upholstery, a panoramic sunroof, a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, and heated front seats. These are all optional extras on the Q3's chief competitors, the Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 and the BMW X1. Combine the superb value with Audi's traditionally excellent interior materials and a comfortable ride quality and you've got a small luxury crossover SUV that's tough to ignore. But the Q3 has some faults. It's not much fun to drive around turns quickly, and steering feel is completely numb and disconnected. The engine also disappoints; it's thirsty and doesn't have enough power to accelerate the Q3 with any real authority. There's also a notable lack of the latest in-car infotainment features. But if speed and tech aren't priorities, the Q3's price tag is sure to entice.



What's new for 2018

Several features have been added to the Q3's base Premium trim, including heated front seats and a restyled front bumper. The Prestige trim has been dropped for 2018, but Audi has folded its features into the other Q3s as part of packages or stand-alone options. The Convenience package now includes a power liftgate and an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and the Sport Plus package can now be ordered on the Premium Plus trim.

We recommend

There's no doubt about it: the Q3 in its base Premium trim is a heck of a deal. It's far less expensive than rivals from BMW and Mercedes-Benz and its list of standard features is more robust. Having said that, we'd opt at least for the Q3's Convenience package, which adds features you should expect from a luxury car, including keyless entry and a power liftgate. If you can pay a bit more, though, our recommended trim is the Premium Plus level, which adds that package plus blind-spot monitoring, LED headlights, and upgraded exterior and interior trim. The additions are worth the small price bump.



Trim levels & features

Despite being the smallest and most affordable crossover in the lineup, the 2018 Audi Q3 is loaded with features even in the base Premium trim. But there's also the Premium Plus, which comes with even more. All Q3s are powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. It's paired to a six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, and an all-wheel-drive system (Quattro) is available.

The Premium is very well equipped with standard features that include 18-inch wheels, automatic xenon headlights and wipers, LED daytime running lights and taillights, silver roof rails, a panoramic sunroof, heated mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a monochrome driver information display, heated and eight-way power-adjustable front seats (with four-way lumbar adjustment), a 60/40-split folding rear seat, leather upholstery, ambient interior lighting, Bluetooth, a charge-only USB port, and a 10-speaker audio system with a CD player, an SD card slot, satellite radio and Audi's proprietary digital music interface with a Lightning (iPhone) adapter cable.

Upgrading to the Premium Plus adds the contents of the Premium's Convenience package (keyless entry and ignition, a power liftgate, an auto-dimming mirror and aluminum interior trim). It also includes LED headlights, aluminum exterior trim, power-folding exterior mirrors (with auto-dimming on the driver side) and blind-spot monitoring, which we think is invaluable given the Q3's large blind spots.

Two features packages are available for either trim (though the Premium must be ordered with the Convenience package). The Sport package adds 19-inch wheels, front sport seats, selectable driving modes and steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles. The Audi MMI Navigation Plus package adds a navigation system with online services and a color driver information display.

Adding the Sport package to the Premium Plus opens the door to the Sport Plus package, which includes sportier exterior styling elements and a different wheel design.

The only option available for both trims are the unique wheels from the Sport Plus package. The Premium Plus can also be ordered with wood inlays (replacing the aluminum trim) and a 14-speaker Bose audio system.



Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our Full Test of the 2015 Audi Q3 Premium Plus Quattro SUV (turbocharged 2.0L inline-4 | 6-speed automatic | AWD).

NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current Q3 has received some revisions, including revised styling and the introduction of the base Premium trim level. Our findings remain applicable to this year's Audi Q3.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall6.9 / 10

Driving

6.5 / 10

Acceleration6.0 / 10
Braking7.0 / 10
Steering6.0 / 10
Handling6.0 / 10
Drivability7.0 / 10

Comfort

8.5 / 10

Seat comfort8.5 / 10
Ride comfort8.0 / 10
Noise & vibration8.5 / 10

Interior

6.5 / 10

Ease of use7.5 / 10
Getting in/getting out7.0 / 10
Roominess6.5 / 10
Visibility6.5 / 10
Quality8.0 / 10

Driving6.5

While 200 horsepower sounds healthy on paper, this isn't the newest or best version of Audi's turbocharged 2.0-liter engine, or the six-speed auto for that matter. Acceleration is barely adequate in this price range. Braking, steering and handling are similarly uninspired.

Acceleration6.0

Forget just luxury brands, even by compact SUV standards, the Q3's acceleration to 60 mph in 8 seconds is below average. It feels like it labors to merge into traffic, and the gas pedal has a nonlinear responsiveness to it.

Braking7.0

In everyday driving, the medium-soft brake pedal feels vague and travels farther than we like. In simulated-panic stops from 60 mph, the Q3 required 122 feet to stop, a few feet longer than average. It also exhibits a minor amount of directional instability under heavy braking.

Steering6.0

Other Audi vehicles have demonstrated that electric-assisted power steering doesn't have to feel as numb and disconnected as the Q3's does. Precision and highway stability are adequate. We expect better than just "adequate" from Audi.

Handling6.0

The Q3 feels heavier and larger than it is thanks to soft suspension, lackluster responses and below-average grip limits. In sum, it doesn't feel sporty. The optional Sport package would likely help here.

Drivability7.0

Lightweight steering and a small size make the Q3 easy to drive in the city, especially with the standard parking sensors and backup camera. It gobbles up highway miles with ease, but mountain roads not so much. The transmission has lazy reactions.

Off-road7.0

With all-season tires, all-wheel drive and hill-descent control, the Q3 Quattro Premium Plus is more of a soft-roader or ski-weekend companion than an off-roader.

Comfort8.5

It's pretty clear Audi was aiming for luxury rather than performance or driver engagement with the Q3. The standard leather seats are highly adjustable and above average in terms of comfort, while the ride is soft and the cabin is kept nice and quiet.

Seat comfort8.5

The standard eight-way adjustable front seats (plus four-way lumbar) are fantastic for all-day driving duty. The rear seats don't have the ability to recline, but they offer decent room for two adults or three in a pinch.

Ride comfort8.0

Our tester had optional 19-inch wheels (18s are standard) that sometimes upset the ride over certain types of bumps or uneven surfaces. The softly tuned suspension delivers a smooth and fuss-free ride on the highway.

Noise & vibration8.5

Even during hard acceleration, there's minimal engine noise. Wind noise is also well-controlled. The hushed cabin is one of the Q3's best qualities.

Climate control

Dual-zone automatic climate control and heated front seats are standard. Although they don't have separate controls, rear-seat passengers will appreciate the rear air vents for circulation.

Interior6.5

While attractive, the Q3's interior doesn't rise to the high standard set by Audi itself. There are a couple of ergonomic idiosyncrasies and some visibility challenges. Small doors make for tight rear-seat access.

Ease of use7.5

Straightforward dual-zone climate control is a cinch to learn, and other controls are clearly labeled and easy to operate. Perhaps unsurprisingly for a car this small, controls are easily within the driver's reach. The dash-mounted infotainment controller is awkward to use, however.

Getting in/getting out7.0

Keyless entry and ignition (standard on our Premium Plus model) works well, and large front doors make for easy access. The rear doors, though, are small, and bigger adults will have trouble getting in and out. The roof-mounted grab handles help.

Roominess6.5

Compared to other subcompact crossovers that have a taller, less domelike roofline, the Q3 feels a bit confined. The interior measurements also come up short of the competition.

Visibility6.5

Thick pillars and small side mirrors present some challenges for outward visibility. Driver aids such as a rearview camera and parking sensors are appreciated, and options like automated parking and blind-spot assist are recommended.

Quality8.0

Even at this price point, the Q3 is typical Audi, with high build quality, tight panel gaps, solid door closings, and excellent interior materials and execution. We noticed some less than smooth painted surfaces normally hidden by closed doors or hatch.

Utility6.0

You can't expect a whole lot of utility from a class that distinguishes itself by its super compact dimensions. Still, the cargo area will easily accommodate four duffel bags, and the LATCH anchors and tethers are easy to reach. The bin under the center armrest is small.

Technology

The Q3 isn't quite up to date in the field of high-tech toys. Unlike most of the other Audis in the lineup, it doesn't offer Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration, though. Frontal collision warning with emergency automatic braking is also not available.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.