2016 Audi Q3: New Look For The Compact Luxury SUV

Strong points
  • The new look makes more of a statement
  • Energetic and flexible engine
  • Sophisticated all-wheel drive
  • Inspired and dynamic
  • Powerful braking
Weak points
  • Limited legroom in back
  • Less space for cargo
  • Just six speeds on the automatic gearbox
  • Inconvenient position of the MMI controls
Full report

The Audi Q3 has just made its way to Canada, but it’s been covering ground since 2011 in Europe and other markets, where the compact luxury SUV has already found more than 400,000 willing buyers. This explains why the German brand is currently giving the model a facelift, which includes aligning the front treatment with the Crosslane concept unveiled at the 2012 Paris Motor Show. The updated Q3 will become available in our country in the fall of 2015 as a 2016 model.

The first thing you’ll notice about the 2016 Q3 is its newly designed Singleframe grille that connects to the xenon headlamps. You’ll also see the new LED daytime running lights and LED tail lights, which were redesigned to integrate dynamic turn signals. These are essentially an orange strip that lights up progressively from inside to outside when the driver signals that he or she wants to change lanes.

Fierce competition

More compact than the Q5, the Q3 is zeroing in on a fast-growing market. Its top rivals include the BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA and GLC (that’s the GLK’s new moniker as of 2015), and the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, to name just a few. Above all, the Q3 is targeting a young, hip and urban clientele by offering a healthy list of factory-standard equipment and ensuring the brand’s signature quality materials and assembly.

It’s a shame, however, that the Q3 dashboard’s outdated presentation still hasn’t been brought up to par with other, more recent Audi models. Communicating with the infotainment system can be challenging when you’re driving because the Multi-Media Interface dial and the other buttons are located right in the middle of the console instead of near the gear shifter, as on other Audi models. Even though the vehicle is shorter and its wheelbase is 204 millimetres smaller than the Q5’s, the Q3 is very roomy up front. Consequently, legroom in back is limited. The same goes for the cargo hold, which comes in at 460 litres with the rear seatbacks up. Of course, the seats fold down to increase the volume to 1,365 litres, but the GLK (soon to be called the GLC) still does better on this front.

In Europe and elsewhere, the Q3 is available with gas and diesel drivetrains, but the only engine to come to Canada is a gas-powered 2.0L four-cylinder turbo with 200 horsepower. It’s the same one seen in several Audi models and a few other vehicles produced by Volkswagen. It pops up everywhere because it offers an exceptional amount of torque between 1,500 and 4,400 rpm. Plus, it’s super smooth, with the vibrations that you’d normally expect from a four-cylinder being notably absent. The only real pitfall of the Canadian Q3s, regardless of whether you choose front- or all-wheel drive, is that they come with a six-speed automatic transmission, compared to the Q5’s eight speeds.

What’s it like at 200 km/h?

If you’re curious about the Q3’s ride, rest assured that its handling is impressive and more like a wagon than an SUV. When equipped with quattro all-wheel drive and Audi Drive Select (which allows you to adjust the suspension’s shock absorption, the tightness of the steering and the accelerator’s responsiveness), the Q3 can be relaxed and flexible in Comfort mode or markedly more direct and precise in Dynamic mode. To make the switch, you just have to push a button. On the secondary roads around Munich, the Q3 proved to be very self-assured and exceptionally stable, even when we jetted down the Autobahn at more than 200 km/h. On this varied route, we travelled significantly faster than we would at home and recorded a fuel consumption average of 9.2 litres per 100 kilometres. It’s almost certain that the Q3 will require a lot less in Canada, where speed limits are much lower.

The manufacturer hasn’t given any specifics on the price range, probably because the restyled Q3 won’t come to Canada until fall 2015. We’re betting that the cost will be similar to the current model, which starts at $35,800 for the version with front-wheel drive and $38,300 for the all-wheel drive.

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