What is it?
2019 Audi Q3 First Drive, Part 2
We Finally Drive the Q3 Meant for America
The 2019 Audi Q3 is a completely revised version of a luxury subcompact crossover that was first introduced to the United States in 2015. It can seat five and provides mature design, excellent materials and a high level of standard features without compromising practicality or performance. It's the ideal car for many types of car shoppers, including first-time luxury-vehicle buyers or current luxury-SUV owners looking to downsize but not lose out on features.
Why does it matter?
Though most people want the biggest car they can afford, there's a growing trend for buyers to "right-size," or get a car sized more in line with how they live most of the time. Part of this has to do with fuel economy and running costs, but another involves practicality. Those buyers feel that it's a win if they can carry almost the same amount of people or gear as a larger vehicle but have the convenience and efficiency of something smaller. With the features and design that Audi provides the Q3, you don't feel like you're compromising for the sake of practicality.
What does it compete with?
Luxury compact crossovers are a small but growing group. The BMW X1 and X2 are similar, but the X1 is a little roomier and the X2 looks a little sportier. The Mercedes-Benz GLA is also worth a look. The Volvo XC40 is spacious and uses interesting materials and design, but it lacks the handling and refinement of some of its competitors. Finally, the Lexus UX has a great highway ride, an excellent price and an available hybrid powertrain, but it comes up a little short on interior room and infotainment ease of use.
How does it drive?
The 2019 Audi Q3 comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine (228 horsepower, 258 lb-ft of torque), an eight-speed automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive. Power comes on smoothly with minimal lag, and the transmission shifts are sporty but not jerky. It doesn't feature a fancy adaptive suspension or variable-ratio steering system, but we wouldn't expect it to given the price.
The ride quality is firm but not too stiff, and the steering is light and easy. Effort builds gradually as you turn in for a corner, but it never gets heavy. The Q3's all-wheel-drive system is transparent to the driver and will send most of its power to the front wheels during most driving scenarios. As the rear wheels are always engaged, they can come into play to provide additional traction as needed.
What's the interior like?
This new Q3 is a stark contrast compared to the previous model, and it shares many of the cues and equipment from Audi's Q8, the Q3's bigger and more expensive sibling. It features a similar version of Audi's new touch-based infotainment system that has a large screen to handle most of the functions. Climate control is situated on its own panel just below. Based on trim and options, the Q3's interior can be modern with metallic trim panels or made sportier with bright orange ultra-suede. The seats are firm and supportive, and the driving position has a fairly broad range of adjustability.
How practical is it?
Even though the Q3 is Audi's smallest SUV, the cargo area is large and roomy. The 40/20/40-split rear seatbacks can be folded down to customize the seating and cargo arrangements as needed. The seats can also slide and recline to provide increased passenger comfort or cargo space. The Q3 should be able to handle most passenger and cargo duties that the average owner should require.
The floor of the cargo area can be placed in two positions: low to maximize cargo height or high to store the retractable cargo cover or hide valuables under the floor.
What else should I know?
The infotainment system, dubbed MMI, is available in two versions that feature similar amounts of features such as Apple CarPlay, handwriting recognition, a USB-C port, and a wireless charger. The standard MMI system comes with an 8.8-inch touchscreen, while the upgraded system comes with a larger 10.1-inch screen, navigation and wireless Apple CarPlay. Selecting the optional MMI system also upgrades the gauge cluster display with Audi's Virtual Cockpit configurable system.
The 2019 Audi Q3 is a standout in its class thanks to its practicality, standard technology and features. Although the Q3 is at the upper end of its segment's price spectrum, Audi is banking on its full-size technology, roomy interior and standard all-wheel-drive system to draw in buyers. The Q3 executes on those aspects very well.