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Audi enters the hot compact SUV segment with the U.S. debut of the Q3. Available this fall, the 2015 Audi Q3 will feature a 200-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a choice of front-wheel or all-wheel drive, and all the luxury amenities expected from the brand.
This new model closely resembles the Q3 Vail Concept that was introduced a few years back. It retains much of the athletic appeal of its predecessor, including a coupe-like rear and tailored lines throughout the muscular body. The five-passenger SUV also offers a sporty suspension and makes use of lightweight aluminum materials--two qualities that allude to an exciting drive.
Who It's For
Audi's Q3 targets younger buyers who need space for everyday hauling but perhaps don't have the larger families that warrant a bigger car. Cargo capacity is a decent 16.2 cubic feet with the rear seats up, more than what the BMW X1 offers. With the rear seats folded, capacity expands to 48.2 cubic feet, allowing owners to store sports equipment, luggage, or a variety of other light bulk items.
While athletic, the Audi Q3 will not whet the appetites of the high-performance crowd. The Audi Q3 will likely be one of the more fuel efficient options in the luxury SUV marketplace. This will likely draw in a fairly large group of buyers who may cross-shop it with the Buick Encore, BMW X1, Mini Countryman, and Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class, among others. We would not be surprised to see the fire-breathing RS Q3 come here eventually, either, to compete with the GLA45 AMG.
Just because the Q3 is Audi's entry level SUV model, the automaker made sure not to cut any corners. Expect a wide range of comfort, convenience, and technology features.
- Standard convenience: panoramic sunroof, heated 12-way power front seats, leather upholstery, smart key, wedge-shape headlights with xenon lighting and LED DRLs, LED taillights.
- Available technology: MMI navigation plus with Google Earth maps, in-car Wi-Fi connectivity, SiriusXM Traffic.
- Front suspension with McPherson struts; rear suspension with four-link rear axle and shock absorber.
- Optional Audi drive select: Comfort, Dynamic, and Auto modes.
What We Think
Whether it's the Subaru XV Crosstrek, the Mazda CX-5 or the BMW X1, automakers are profiting from offering smaller SUVs that provide a good balance of utility and efficiency. We think the Q3 is a good move for Audi and will attract young, luxury-oriented buyers. However, we wish that Audi would have offered more than one powertrain option for this car, perhaps a more powerful four-banger or even a heftier V-6. We will have to wait and see how this model evolves over time, and we are looking forward to taking it on a test drive.
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