The 2018 Audi Q3 is the gateway to owning a crossover with the famed four rings adorning the grille. This is the smallest and least expensive crossover the company makes, more or a less a subcompact in the same vein as the BMW X1, Mini Countryman and Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class. But it’s an ideal set of wheels for a young professional.
It’s 10 inches shorter overall than its Q5 sibling. Not surprisingly, there’s less room for rear passengers and cargo alike. But if the hatchback-size interior is acceptable, the Q3’s elevated driving position, city-friendly dimensions and relatively reasonable pricing could seal the deal.
The Q3 had been around in Europe for some time before being imported to the United States, and a new generation is not far off.
What’s New for 2018?
Last year’s top Prestige trim level has been discontinued for 2018, resulting in a redistribution of some standard features, while others are made available as options. See the 2018 Audi Q3 models for sale near you
What We Like
Easy to park; plenty of standard luxuries; premium ride quality
What We Don’t
Limited back-seat and cargo space
The Q3 comes with either front-wheel drive or Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive. Either way, the transmission is a 6-speed automatic, and the engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder unit rated at 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Q3 returns 20 miles per gallon in the city, 28 mpg on the highway and 23 mpg in combined driving, regardless of how many wheels are driven.
Standard Features & Options
The 2018 Audi Q3 is sold in Premium and Premium Plus trim levels. All-wheel drive is a $2,100 option.
The Premium ($33,875) comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof, automatic xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, LED taillights, rain-sensing wipers, heated windshield-washer nozzles, aluminum roof rails, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, LED ambient cabin lighting, leather seating surfaces, 12-way power-adjustable front seats with heating, dual-zone automatic climate control, 60/40-split folding rear seats with a center pass-through, parking sensors front and rear, a 130-degree rearview camera, a monochromatic trip computer, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a 10-speaker audio system with iPod connectivity, an SD card slot, a USB charging port, satellite radio and HD Radio.
The Premium trim is eligible for the Convenience options bundle, which includes a powered tailgate with adjustable opening heights, aluminum cabin trim, keyless entry/ignition and a self-dimming rearview mirror with a digital compass.
The Premium Plus ($36,775) has the above bundle as standard while adding fog lights, heated/power-folding mirrors (self-dimming on the driver’s side), LED headlights, Side Assist (which warns users of any approaching hazards when they open the doors) and blind spot monitoring.
An optional Sport package includes 19-in alloy wheels, Audi Drive Select (providing adjustable drive modes with specific steering, throttle and transmission calibrations), a 3-spoke multifunction steering wheel with shift paddles, and sport front seats.
The Audi MMI Navigation Plus package brings, unsurprisingly, navigation (voice-controlled), along with Audi Connect (including Wi-Fi, Google Earth maps and Google Points of Interest search) and a color trip computer.
The Q3 comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability control, hill-descent control and six airbags (front, front-side and full-length side-curtain). Optional features include blind spot monitoring.
Due to its older design, the Q3 lacks cutting-edge features such as adaptive cruise control, forward-collision mitigation or lane-keeping assistance.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has given the Q3 its top score of Good in all major crash-test categories.
Behind the Wheel
The Q3 mostly meets Audi’s high standards in terms of materials and build quality. The standard front seats have plenty of support for long hauls, and both get the same power adjustments (8-way positioning plus 4-way lumbar). The special seats that come with the Sport package add side bolsters, which are perhaps too prominent for the typical crossover shopper.
Predictably, the super-compact Q3’s rear accommodations are cramped for adults, and cargo capacity measures a modest 16.7 cu ft. behind the rear seats, expanding to 48.2 cu ft. with those seats folded down.
The refined 200-hp turbo engine feels stronger than the projected 7.8-second sprint to 60 mph suggests (8.2 seconds with all-wheel drive). Still, there’s no denying this is an older engine used primarily in Volkswagen products — including the loosely related first-generation Tiguan — whereas the Q5 and most other Audi vehicles use a different version with more horsepower and torque. The 6-speed transmission is also a bit of a relic. Most other Audis have upgraded to an 8-speed transmission. Like the engine, though, it doesn’t feel outdated, even if it technically is.
The Q3 is capable enough in corners, but it’s hardly a performance-oriented crossover. Its natural habitat is the highway, where the compliant-yet-composed ride underlines the vehicle’s luxury status
Other Cars to Consider
2018 BMW X1 — A firm ride, but a fun drive. Plus a versatile, high-quality interior. Definitely look into this model.
2018 Lexus NX 300 — Like the best-selling RX, only smaller.
2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class — A sportier drive than the Q3, but interior materials aren’t as good. Slightly updated for 2018.
2018 Mini Countryman — Less cargo space than the Q3, although a sliding rear seat means adults can ride back there. More fun as well.
The Premium Plus trim looks a lot more attractive now it has some extra equipment. But there’s no escaping the Q3’s advancing years. If time is pressing, negotiate hard for this model year. If not, why not wait and see what the 2019 model year brings?