The Q3 actually debuted in 2011, but not in America. For the first four years Audi kept the car in Europe, letting it mature a bit.
But that was a problem, because when it finally did make it across the pond, its unveiling in the U.S. left many unimpressed. The problem was that it hadn’t really been updated much at all. It was odd that a “new” car looked, well, old.
Never fear. Audi isn’t the kind of company to let things fester. For the 2019 model year they pulled back the curtain on a fresh new Q3, one that’s not only slightly larger, but remarkably updated.
From its stunning grill and cool running lights, to the distinguished but sexy, well-defined side lines, the Q3 has finally (truly) arrived.
The subcompact luxury SUV category has more than a few players, each hoping to catch your eye and, ultimately, your dollars. Audi offers three trim levels of the Q3, starting with a base model pinned with the name Premium. I think that’s kinda funny.
From there you can choose the Premium Plus or the S line, which is the model I happily tooled around in for a week.
Each trim comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four cylinder engine, and an 8-speed transmission. All-wheel drive is standard.
The engineers at Audi paid as much attention to updating the interior as they did the exterior lines.
You’ll find plenty of high-end materials, and a stylish design. The brushed aluminum is a nice touch, and leather is standard. A synthetic suede provides both a nice look and feel to the dash and armrests. The seats are comfortable, and everything is laid out well.
The panoramic roof is standard and brings a bright, open feel to an already-spacious interior. I felt like the rear seats were about average in terms of space, but folding them (a 40/20/40 split) opens up the cargo area to almost 50 cubic feet. That’s a big improvement over the first generation Q3.
That rear seats also slide and recline, which is terrific.
I liked the pep of the Q3. It doesn’t necessarily pump out tons of horsepower (around 228) but I never felt like it was short of power.
You’ll encounter the now-common start/stop engine at intersections, when can be slightly irritating. But the Q3 doesn’t have much lag at all when the engine kicks back on.
As a small SUV it handles very well. I especially liked the feel of the steering, and the braking, with a nice, firm pedal, was solid, too.
Again, Audi has done a good job of bringing the Q3 up to modern standards.
The touch-response infotainment system looks and performs quite well with its 8.8-inch screen. A 10-inch screen is available. The digital cluster gauges fit inside a 10-inch screen, too.
There’s no shortage of driver assists and safety features, and you can find even more through options.
For your gadgets you get both USB-C and USB-A connections, and here’s more good news: the Q3 is both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatible.
During my week I had only one or two hiccups connecting with CarPlay. Otherwise it worked flawlessly.
Climate control is handled mostly with knobs and buttons, so a big thumbs-up from me.
Storage up front is minimal, and that was a little disappointing, considering this is a sport utility vehicle. The bin between the front seats is pretty small, although you’ll find that handy space in front of the shifter. True, it’s there for wireless charging, but I think most of us use it to store more of our stuff.
The Bottom Line
We had to wait a few years for Audi to bring the Q3 up to the standards we expect of luxury SUVs, but it’s an unmitigated success.
Just the right size for sprinting around town, and stylish enough to make you proud at the valet.
It has a nice array of tech goodies, and good storage space. Plus it drives well, with a sporty feel.
If you’re ready to step up to the luxury category, the price is more than competitive, too, with my S line model starting in the mid-30s.
2019 Audi Q3 S line quattro
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four
Fuel economy: 19/27/22 combined
As tested: $44,990
Reviewed by Dom Testa
Vehicle provided by manufacturer