2016 Audi Q3
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Review of: 2016 Audi Q3 quattro 4dr 2.0T Technik
2016 Audi Q3: Luxury and style in a small package
By David Miller
Oct. 17, 2016
The compact crossover market is booming. With a 94.8 per cent increase in Canadian luxury compact crossover sales from 2014 to 2015 (and more than 100 per cent if you include the Buick Encore), you could say that this is the segment to get into.
Recently, Audi has taken advantage of small crossover demand with its Q3, a recent addition to Canada, but a vehicle that has been around in other markets since 2011. In a short span, it’s done fairly well in sales and is currently embroiled in a close race against German rivals in the BMW X1 and the Mercedes-Benz GLA.
For my test drive, I took out the top-of-the-line 2016 Audi Q3 Quattro Technik. In Canada, only one engine is offered – a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder that produces 200 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque and that’s matched to a six-speed automatic transmission.
Pros & Cons
- + Acceleration
- + Ride comfort
- + cargo versatility
- - Rear seat space
- - Navigation system
- - Limited drivetrain choices
Its smaller dimensions and low-to-the-ground profile make the Audi Q3 appear to be more hatch than SUV. A coupe-like silhouette gives some character to a less-than-distinctive overall appearance. That hatchback look fully takes shape in the rear with LEDs that wrap around onto the tailgate as a finishing touch.
The signature black Audi grille makes the four-ring logo pop, creating a powerful presence, further enhanced by slanted LED headlamps – in the upper trims – that complement the grille with a more cutting-edge style. Shiny chrome connects those two main exterior design elements, which are packaged with large air intakes at the bottom.
Audi does a good job creating a luxurious sanctuary without making it complicated. The Q3 has a simple, refined style that mainly relies on the pleasures of soft leather and metallic trim.
Due to its smaller shape (about 25 cm shorter in length than the Q5), sleek silhouette and panoramic sunroof, the Q3 lacks an abundance of headroom and legroom in a rear seat only suited to average-sized adults. If you’re planning a road trip with friends, the Q3 will get the job done, but your friends won’t get to stretch out their legs.
For the young families to whom this car is marketed, the Q3 excels in cargo space. It starts off with 460 litres (16.7 cu. ft.) that can be expanded to 1,365 litres when you fold down the back seat, a dimension that’s pretty much in line with its German competitors.
Everything is nicely organized in the centre console, as you would expect from German craftsmanship. It all starts with a seven-inch touchscreen that uses Audi’s Multi-Media Interface (MMI), controlled by dials and buttons below the air vents. I found having the controlling knob in the centre of the console to be much better than BMW’s iDrive system, which has you reach back behind the gear shift. Rounding out this orderly arrangement are climate control dials that are self-explanatory and easy to adjust.
The MMI system itself is easy to figure out, but that doesn’t hold for the optional ($1,900) navigation system. I found it difficult to input addresses once a city was already programmed. It didn’t always allow me to start anew, wasting time.
A rearview camera comes standard, as expected from any luxury offering, along with an Audi advanced key with passive entry and push-button start, power tailgate, LED headlights and taillights with dynamic indicators and an upgraded 14-speaker Bose sound system in the Technik package.
My Q3 tester was fitted with Audi’s well-renowned Quattro all-wheel drive system for an additional $2,500. It wasn’t essential for my long distance travel from Toronto to Calabogie in May. But for the winter time, a little extra balance and confidence and the knowledge that power is being sent to all four wheels may be worth that extra price.
The aforementioned 2.0-litre turbo has a lot of initial acceleration, which will be expected by returningAudi owners familiar with the brand’s use of turbocharging. That quickness continues as you get up to speed with seamless gear changes. The best part about the Q3’s performance is that it’s engineered for the typical crossover driver and not for the speed junkie: you’ll enjoy the smooth ride without much road or engine noise.
Direct and responsive steering uses torque vectoring to help in enthusiastic cornering. The Q3 will automatically adjust power distribution and braking to guide you through challenging turns.
The front row seats were comfortable, causing no back pain during my four-hour Ontario drive from Toronto to Calabogie. On top of that, I saw a respectable fuel consumption average of 8.2 L/100 km over my 600 km journey.
If you’re looking for value, the Audi Q3 doesn’t really play that game, but neither do the Mercedes-Benz GLA or BMW X1. The Q3 is essentially an upscale version of the Volkswagen Tiguan and an entry-level vehicle for the Audi brand.
The Q3 starts at $34,300 and works its way up to $43,200 for the Technik trim with all-wheel drive. The only value can be seen in comparison to the Q5: in that case, you will save the $8,000 price bump that comes with the Q3’s larger sibling.
The 2016 Audi Q3 offers consumers luxury, comfort and performance all in one smaller package, well tailored for people looking for a premium vehicle without the need for a lot of space.
Performance is smooth and well-balanced and the Q3 is quick to respond when needed. While the technology could use some upgrading considering the price paid, all-in-all, the Q3 feels like it deserves its place in Audi’s roster and offers the same refinement found in the brand’s other products.