The 2016 Audi Q3 is a great little compact SUV as long as you remember one thing. It’s a little compact SUV.
It certainly doesn’t look small. With styling similar to the larger Q5, it has a very attractive shape. A quick look inside and you’ll find it has plenty of upscale touches. It just doesn’t have a lot of room.
Leg room in the front of the Q3 is 40 inches. That’s at least an inch shorter than most of its competitors in the compact SUV world. But the back seat is where it really comes up short with only 31 inches of leg room. We found this out the hard way when we took a trip to Disneyland with four adults. Even though one was fairly petite, the back seat just wasn’t big enough. Compare that to the Hyundai Tucson with 38 inches or even the Audi’s cousin, the VW Tiguan that has nearly 36 inches. The new Mazda CX-3 is four inches shorter on the outside with more leg room on the inside. Heck, the leg room in the back seat of the current Ford Mustang which is often mocked as only for emergencies or tiny children is only half an inch shorter.
I don’t say this to mock the Q3 (OK,maybe just a little bit…). I just want to make sure that if it’s on your shopping list you don’t intend to haul anyone with anywhere close to adult sized legs in the back seat.
On the other hand, if you’re only planning to use the front row (and you’re not especially tall), the Q3 has a lot to offer. It uses a four-cylinder, 2.0 liter turbocharged engine that delivers 200 horsepower. That’s totally reasonable for this class. If you’re looking for more power, bump up to something bigger. My driving impression was that it moved off the line reasonably well and didn’t leave me begging when it was time to merge onto the freeway. I wasn’t overly impressed with its mileage. The Q3 gets 20 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway with a combined number of 23 mpg. Choosing the Hyundai Tucson (with less horsepower) or the BMW X1 (with more) will give better mileage.
You get your choice of driving settings ranging from comfort to dynamic. I kept it in comfort most of the time and enjoyed the ride. You also get goodies like speed warnings and a parking aid.
I read some reviews that raved about the display interface, but it didn’t wow me. The controls are on the dash right below the display (which looks like it was glued to the dash as an afterthought). This differs from most Audis that have them on the center console under where your right arm normally rests. That’s not a huge problem because you’re not that far away so it’s an easy reach. I found the controls a little confusing during my week, but I’m sure I’d get used to them over time.
The big thing with German cars these days is a mesh screen under the sunroof. The idea is simple. Why waste all that wonderful sunshine with a solid liner that you’ll likely keep closed. Unfortunately, I live in Phoenix and the thought of leaving a car outside with any additional sun coming through that mesh during summer is a bit much.
My test car tipped the pricing scale at $42,750. That included $35,800 for the base Q3 quattro with Tiptronic transmission, plus the prestige and sport packages.
At this point you’re probably thinking that I hated the Q3. Actually, that’s not the case. I thoroughly enjoyed driving it to and from work every day. It’s an upscale drivers car with great looks. But as with so many cars (and a few other things), make sure you take a good long look to make sure it fits your needs before you get swayed by the beautiful shape.