Class: Premium Compact Crossover
Miles Driven: 312
Fuel Used: 14.3 gallons
Driving mix: 70% city, 30% highway
Real-world fuel economy: 21.8 mpg
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 20/28/23 (city, highway, combined)
Base price: $34,600 (not including $925 destination charge)
|CG Report Card|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Room and Comfort||B-|
|Power and Performance||B|
|Fit and Finish||B|
Options on test car: Special paint ($550), navigation system ($1900), 19-inch alloy wheels ($800), power tailgate ($400)
Price as tested: $39,175
The great: Plenty of power with decent fuel economy
The Good: Sporty handling
The not so good: Limited rear-seat space, dull (by Audi standards) interior appointments
With crossover sport-utility vehicles increasingly grabbing the attention of car shoppers, it’s no wonder that Audi has elected to add another one with the Q3. With a starting price of $34,600 with quattro all-wheel drive ($2100 more than a front-drive Q3), it marks Audi’s bid to have an entry-level “starter” to lure more of the market than might be possible with the larger, costlier Q5. It’s a good—not great—first step into Audi crossover and SUV ownership.
This driver liked the lively responsiveness of the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder. Though the sample size was small—a single round trip of 52.3 miles— he liked the fuel mileage, too: 24.5 mpg with 60 percent of miles in city driving.
Ride was nicely composed, handling was easy, and front-seat room was good. The 60/40-split rear seats fold nearly flat and form an uninterrupted surface to greatly expand otherwise so-so rear cargo space. Perhaps the only reason that you can hear a bit of wind whistle at highway speeds is because the Q3 otherwise does a commendable job of screening out passing traffic noise.
However (and there almost always is one), Audi’s laudable standards for interior quality seem to have taken a cost cut here. Dash and door panels have a soft-ish feel to them, but there’s no appreciable padding beneath them, so the overall impression is hard plastic. The MMI control system (optional on the version that CG drove) requires a lot of button-pushing for what should be simple tasks like saving radio stations. Rear-seat leg room will be tight for adults.
There are some nice premium-brand touches that come standard on even the most basic Q3 like leather upholstery and a panoramic sunroof, but you have to step up a bit in cost to get some other things. The Q3 is a tasty lick of Audi flavor, but it’s not a whole bite.