The outgoing Q3 I tested back in 2015 was good but had some major flaws, one being it was too small and the other it needed more power. The good news is both have been addressed in the 2019 model, it’s 3.8 inches longer (3.0 inches longer in wheelbase), 0.7 inch wider, and 1.5 inches taller, giving it much more presence and it’s a lot roomier too.
The 2019 Audi Q3 now uses Volkswagen Group’s now ubiquitous MQB platform, (It’s the same wheelbase as the VW Tiguan) and gets specific tuning for the United States, giving it a firm but comfortable ride, and responsive handling. It’s pretty too taking design cues from the Q8 and at last it feels like the small luxury crossover it should be.
The other major change is under the hood where the 2.0 turbo 4 is from the GTI and develops the same 220 hp and 258 ft-lbs, up 28 horsepower and 51 pound-feet of torque for 2019. This is driven through an 8 speed auto which , at times, was a little clunky…….more on that later.
With test gear on we launched Q3 from a standstill to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds, 0.7 seconds quicker than the last Q3 we tested.
What we won’t get sadly are the performance versions of the Q3, the RS or SQ3 or the lower roofline of a Q3 Sportback. Audi doesn’t think the U.S. market is big enough to split the Q3 that many ways they just don’t see the demand given the demographics of the typical luxury crossover buyer, that’s a shame.
My tester was a quattro Premium Plus model painted in Pulse Orange, definitely not a color for shrinking violets. It fostered some emotional responses at the office with a 50/50 split on like or dislike, my vote was a thumbs up.
The 2019 Q3’s turbo 4 feels very relaxed at most speeds, at least from inside the cabin, outside it has that typical Audi/VW diesel like idle which I am very used to. Who cares anyway since you spend most of your time inside when the engine is on. Floor the go pedal and the Q3 snaps through its eight gears very fast, however, we did experience some not so smooth shifts when doing so. In more normal driving it was a much smoother experience with little to no signs of lag.
I spent time toggling between Dynamic and Comfort and since the US model isn’t available with any of the adaptive suspension packages, (steel springs at all four corners) there is no change in suspension tolerances. Even with the more mortal suspension the Q3 handles well, doesn’t float in the corners and is decently quick enough to have a little fun when the going gets tough. The steering was precise but is typical of the usual issue these days of having very little feel.
The Q3 works off road too, although not so well with the optional 20 inch wheels wearing low profile rubber. It’s no Range Rover, but it copes admirably over rough terrain with a ground clearance of 7.2 inches and a wading depth of 19 inches. We took it on some fairly easy truck trails and tested the Hill Descent Control, which automatically maintains a speed between 6 mph and 12 mph on steep descents.
I may have driven harder in this Q3 than the outgoing one a few years ago since this car returned an average fuel economy during the week I had it of 19.8 mpg. With a less heavy right foot I could see being able to achieve the EPA highway number of 27 mpg.
My tester came with the S Line package ($500) which gives you a pair of excellent front chairs with power and heat but alas no cooling….tsk tsk. Instead of the track pad, the infotainment moves to a touch screen, so no more dials for the driver. All models have the excellent Virtual Cockpit TFT screen in front of the driver. I usually set the map in the middle with the large speedometer and tachometer option. The new central screen is great too with each selection accompanied by a light sound, it all works perfectly and is beautifully integrated into the dash.
Unlike in the A6 I recently drove this one has actual knobs for the climate control but as I said before no bottom cooling for hotter climates. In the back, the rear seats adjust fore and aft and the back rests recline. Since the rear hatch design doesn’t provide much headroom for dogs sliding the rear seats creates more space in the back which has grown 7 cu feet. The trim and feel are classic Audi, soft touch and the overall ambiance is much more luxurious than previously offered and I really liked the orange Alcantara inserts on the doors and dash. So soft.
The base price of my AWD test example was $36,000 which is not too bad considering it’s an Audi. The Premium Plus package will add $3,100 which includes Park Assist, Lane Departure Warning, LED Interior Lights, Wireless Charging and Phone Signal Booster to name a few. Navigation will add $2,000, the Bang and Olufsen $850 and the aforementioned Sport Interior Package $500 and you are nudging $45,000 including destination charge.
The 2019 Audi Q3 is a very stylish car and Audi has done a great job in improving it enough that I’m sure it will attract a lot of first time Audi buyers. Yes there are some gripes, but as an overall package it’s a worthy contender in the Luxury crossover market. Audi is banking on most buyers to eventually stepping up to the Q5 and remain with the brand.
2019 Audi Q3 Quattro Numbers
BASE PRICE: $36,000
PRICE AS TESTED: $44,395
VEHICLE LAYOUT: Front-engine, 4-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback
ENGINE: Turbocharged and inter-cooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4
POWER: 228 hp @ 5,000 rpm
TORQUE: 258 lb-ft @ 1,700 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic with manual shifting mode
0-60 MPH: 7.2 seconds
CURB WEIGHT: 3,916 lb
GROUND CLEARANCE: 8.3 inches
CARGO VOLUME: 23.7 ft³, 48 ft³ with seat area
TIRES: Bridgestone Potenza 255/40R-20
FUEL ECONOMY Combined/city/highway: 22/19/27 mpg
OUR OBSERVED: 19.8 mpg
PROS: Much improved interior, quicker, more interior space
CONS: Slightly clunky transmission, no cooled seats
Read more: SUV Innovation: 2019 Audi Q8