Audi's Q5 compact crossover has been crushing it for years, so we expect big things from its little sibling, the subcompact 2016 Audi Q3. In some ways, there's no doubt that the pint-sized Q3 delivers. Interior quality has long been an Audi hallmark, and the Q3's got plenty of it. How about a hushed, compliant ride? Yep, the Audi comes through again with a suitably serene character on most surfaces. Furthermore, even the base Q3 comes loaded with lots of desirable equipment, so value turns out to be another core strength.
On the other hand, the Q3 is hardly the freshest face in this segment, even though it debuted on our shores just last year. Audi's been building it since 2011 overseas, which explains why it comes with the company's outdated proprietary music interface rather than USB connectivity like newer Audi models. The Q3's turbocharged four-cylinder engine is also an earlier design, as is its six-speed automatic transmission. Consequently, the Q3 is actually slower than the larger, heavier Q5 2.0T, which gets an eight-speed automatic and more power, while EPA fuel economy is a wash between the two.
Of course, the Q3 is also significantly cheaper than the Q5, but there are similarly priced subcompact luxury crossovers that offer comparative advantages. The biggest option you should check out is the fully redesigned 2016 BMW X1, which boasts a larger cabin and cutting-edge technology along with superior performance and fuel economy. The Lexus NX 200t is neck-and-neck with the Audi in terms of space- and fuel-efficiency, but it pulls ahead with quicker acceleration and standard USB integration. Then there's the even smaller but pleasantly frugal and highly customizable 2016 Mini Countryman, which is more engaging to drive and can be outfitted with spunky turbo power. In sum, the Edmunds "C" rated 2016 Audi Q3 still merits consideration if you're drawn to its sophisticated style, but otherwise, this little crossover may be less of a big deal than you'd think.
Performance & mpg
Every 2016 Audi Q3 comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine rated at 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. It's matched to a six-speed automatic transmission and either front- or all-wheel drive.
EPA-estimated fuel economy for the 2016 Audi A3 checks in at 23 mpg combined (20 city/29 highway) with front-wheel drive and 23 mpg combined (20/28) with all-wheel drive.
In Edmunds testing, a Q3 Quattro accelerated to 60 mph in 8.0 seconds, a slow time compared to direct rivals like the X1 and NX 200t.
Standard safety equipment for the 2016 Audi Q3 includes stability and traction control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags, front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera. The Technology package adds a blind-spot monitoring system.
During Edmunds braking testing, an all-wheel-drive Q3 came to a stop from 60 mph in 122 feet, about average for the segment.
In crash tests conducted by the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the 2016 Q3 received the highest rating of "Good" in the small-overlap frontal-offset, moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests, while the Q3's seat and head restraint design was also rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
In the real world, the 2016 Audi Q3 may seem peppy enough, especially if you put the transmission in its more aggressive Sport mode. Still, the Q3's tepid full-throttle acceleration puts it near the back of the pack, which is unusual for an Audi these days. On the bright side, the engine itself is quite refined, seldom drawing attention to itself and remaining vibration-free even at high rpm.
* REVIEW by Edmunds.com
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