The Audi Q3 is a five-seat compact crossover that’s more compact than the BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class, or Mazda CX-3. At 172.6 inches, the Q3 is only a foot longer than a Mini Cooper hatchback. The Fiat 500X is a rival, too.
It might be compact, perky and maybe even a bit stubby, but its styling aspires to the larger Audi Q5 that is 10 inches longer. The 2017 Audi Q3 is in the third year of its generation. There are no significant changes for the 2017 Q3 lineup, though there are some trim-level revisions.
Its engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque, mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission.
The Q3 handles well but its priority is ride and comfort, more than crisp cornering. For a compact, its fuel mileage is unimpressive, with an EPA-estimated 20/29 mpg City/Highway, or 23 mpg Combined.
Quattro all-wheel drive is available, or front-wheel drive. Fuel economy ratings are the same.
The Q3 rates top crash-test scores from the IIHS. A rearview camera and parking sensors are standard, while options include blind spot monitor and automatic park assist.
The 2017 Audi Q3 ($31,800) is the new base model, with 12-way power front seats, a panoramic sunroof, and LED running lamps and taillamps. The Premium Plus model adds heated folding mirrors and a power liftgate. The Prestige has a more premium audio system, navigation, blind-spot monitors in-car 4G LTE data services with Audi Connect, and Audi’s Multi-Media Interface. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.)
Quattro all-wheel drive is available.
The Q3 has a tidy shape that will last a while, with a stance that’s more muscular than the A3 Sportback while not as settled as the bigger Q5, although it is two inches lower than the Q5. It looks and feels squatty and wide.
The low grille is braced by narrow headlamps and large air intakes. The sculpting at the sides climbs to a coupe-like roofline and back to a wraparound tailgate and LED taillamps that create a neat look from behind.
The Q3 seats five as long as the three passengers in the back seat are small; if they’re adults, two is more like it. The knee and head room in the rear is sparse. A panoramic sunroof is standard, which is nice but lowers the ceiling. Visibility isn’t great, with thick pillars and a small rear window.
Like the A3 sedan, the cabin is tasteful and detailed, if limited in its choices of trim and color. The dash is a broad stretch of soft black plastic trimmed by thin metallic rings. The gauges are big and clear, and on some models with infotainment, a 7.0-inch screen folds out from the dash. On others, it doesn’t stow away, with the MMI knob fixed on the center console. The screen offers a bright high-resolution display, especially vivid with the Google Earth maps.
The driving position is excellent, but the optional sport seats aren’t an option, they’re a must for their bolstering. The center console doesn’t crowd the driver’s right knee, as it does in many compacts.
Cargo space is good, with 16.7 cubic feet behind the rear seat, about the size of a big trunk. And with the rear seatbacks flipped, there’s a 48.2 cubic feet, way healthy for a compact.
The 2.0-liter turbocharged engine is the same as used in the heavier Q5, so the Q3 is the crossover that makes the most of the engine’s 200 horsepower. Even the Q3 weighs 3500 pounds, no lightweight for a compact, so more horsepower here would be helpful. But the 207 pound-feet of torque comes on at a low 2000 rpm, so that helps make the Q3 reasonably quick and feel energetic. It will accelerate from zero to sixty in 7.8 seconds, or 8.2 seconds with all-wheel drive.
The 6-speed automatic transmission’s gears are well spaced, and shifts are confident, but we miss the DSG twin-clutch that Audi builds so well.
The road manners and ride quality are very good. With front struts and four links at the rear, it feels tidy and well damped around corners. And it has responsive electric power steering. But don’t expect track-like spirit in the twisties. We give the BMW X1 the edge in handling; however the Q3 rides better than the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class on bumpy city streets.
Audi Q3 is a nice vehicle, but fuel mileage of 23 miles per gallon combined with a mild 200 horsepower comes up short against the competition.
Sam Moses contributed to this report, with driving impressions by The Car Connection.