SUVs of any size continue to appeal to consumers in large numbers. However, the draw is particularly strong with compact luxury models like the 2016 Audi Q3. The Q3 is the smallest SUV in Audi’s lineup, slotting below the Q5 and Q7.
The 2016 Audi Q3 is a luxury compact SUV that’s offered in Premium Plus and Prestige trims. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is available. With room for up to five, this model brings Audi quality and vigor to the entry-level luxury segment. For 2016, the Q3 adds a rearview camera and front and rear parking sensors to the list of standard equipment.
The Audi Q3 has a familiar look that complements the layout of the larger Q5 and Q7 SUVs. Its lines are clean, yet expressive, suggesting a model always in motion.
The Q3’s front fascia is dominated by an oversized trapezoidal grille along with a narrow lower air intake. The horizontally shaped wraparound headlamp assemblies contain distinctive LED lighting accents, while large embrasures are present at the base of the fascia and may be outfitted with optional fog lamps.
This 2016 Q3’s silhouette is marked by a slightly rising beltline, a sloping roofline, character lines and body sculpting. Chrome touches and aluminum alloy wheels help deliver an upscale presentation. At the rear is a liftgate spoiler, oversized wraparound combination lamps, body sculpting, a second set of combination lamps and two exhaust tips.
Audi interiors are simple, yet elegant, making good use of soft-touch materials, aluminum trim and leather surfaces. Switches and knobs are firm to the touch in each cabin. The Audi Q3 advances that simplicity throughout the interior.
The 2016 Q3 seats five, with bolstered, power-operated bucket seats up front. The rear seat provides a 60-40 split-folding layout with a pass through to the cargo area. The rear seat is best occupied by two, or perhaps three children. It isn’t especially roomy for adults who must contend with limited legroom and pinched hip space.
Folding the rear seat nearly triples storage capacity to approximately 48 cubic feet.
Up front, the Audi Q3 is marked by an instrument panel featuring tachometer and speedometer analog displays on either side of a digital driver’s information display.
On top of the dashboard and in line with the center console is the display panel, featuring a black background along with orange and white lettering. The display is canted toward the driver. Large vents at the top of the console are followed by audio and climate controls with switches and knobs operating the same. The transmission shifter, two cup holders and a covered storage compartment are located between the front seats.
All four doors come with bottle holders and storage pockets. Two additional cup holders are found in the rear center seat position. Also standard are power accessories, air conditioning, ambient LED lighting and a sunroof. Prestige editions come equipped with a navigation system, a 14-speaker Bose audio system, a tilt-and-telescopic steering column and stainless steel door sill and trunk sill inlays.
Available options on the base model include a Technology package ($2,600) that brings in a voice-controlled navigation system. A $550 Sport package brings in a drive select mode, front sport seats and a leather-covered steering wheel with paddle shifters. A power liftgate is a $400 option that’s managed by the key fob or switches.
For 2016, Audi offers one powertrain for the U.S. market: a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine making 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque, which is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The 2016 Audi Q3 is EPA-rated at up to 20/29 mpg city/highway.
Front-wheel drive is standard across the model line. Choose Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system and you’ll add $2,100 to the base price.
Acceleration is strong with minimal turbo lag detected.
The suspension system is tuned for comfort and handling is capable, although it is not especially inspiring. The available drive select mode allows drivers to adjust throttle, transmission and steering settings to deliver a more dynamic driving experience.
Not supplying a direct USB connection for smartphone connectivity is an Audi practice that many owners wish the automaker would change. Instead, Audi supplies proprietary cables for that connection, but they’re not compatible with every smartphone. An aftermarket adapter may resolve the deficiency.
On the positive side, the Audi display panel is clean and easy to use. Models equipped with navigation and voice control gain access to detailed city maps to help them find their destination.
Spoken commands are enabled by pressing the talk button on the face of the steering wheel, then supplying an address before initiating route guidance.
The 2016 Audi Q3 is a Top Safety Pick as recognized by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The IIHS gave this model its highest score of Good in all crashworthiness categories. The Q3 does not offer front crash prevention technology, which some competing models provide.
All 2016 Audi Q3 models come equipped with a suite of air bags, stability and traction control, front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera. Other safety features include a rollover sensor and programmable daytime running lights.
With a starting price of $33,700, the Audi Q3 brings luxury SUV affordability to the masses. Opting for Quattro all-wheel drive is a sensible decision, especially in regions where wintry conditions or hilly terrain is common.
Choosing the Prestige line brings in appearance updates as well as voice-controlled navigation, a 14-speaker Bose audio system and LED headlights. Well-equipped all-wheel drive models push the final price above $40,000, yet still within range of competing models from BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
As tested, a Quattro model was delivered in Prestige trim with monsoon gray metallic paint ($575), a power liftgate and a technology package composed of navigation, connectivity services and lane keeping assist, bringing the test Q3 to a final price of $40,300.
With no diesel engine available for the 2016 model year, Audi loses a competitive standpoint in the segment. Nevertheless, the Q3 provides a sensible gateway to the brand in the form of this handsome SUV.