The 2018 model is powered by a 2.0 liter turbocharged inline-4 with an output of 200 horsepower and 207 lb. ft. of torque. That is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission that delivers power to two or all four wheels. While the power figures on paper seem sufficient, in reality the acceleration delivered by the engine is borderline sluggish. That is further quantified by the 8 seconds it took to reach 60 mph from a standstill. It is not exactly immediate when overtaking and definitely felt slow for its size. Like its acceleration, the handles of the Q3 felt larger and bulkier than its size may suggest. The soft suspension and underwhelming grip on the road meant body roll is simply evident through the corner. The steering did not feel lacking as it was accurate and the vehicle turned at will. However response from the road is greatly muted, and the disconnection did nothing to inspire confidence. The brakes were adequate at best, although if suddenly stopping there is a little unnecessary movement in slowing down. It took 122 feet to brake the vehicle from 60 mph, a longer distance than most in the subcompact SUV segment. Firmness could be added to the pedal feel and it also has a longer stroke.
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The base Premium trim comes standard with automatic xenon headlights, LED running lights and taillights, rain-activated wipers, heated side mirrors, automatic climate control, power-adjustable front seats with power lumbar adjustment, ambient interior lighting, Bluetooth, satellite radio, SD card slot, a USB port (charge only), Audi’s own digital music interface with Lightning adapter cable, CD player and a ten-speaker sound system. The Convenience package includes a power liftgate, keyless entry and ignition and auto-dimming driver-side mirror. The Premium Plus trim builds on the base trim and includes LED headlights, power-folding side mirrors and heated front seats. Both the Premium and Premium Plus trims can add the Sport package which includes front sport seats, selectable driving modes and paddle shifters. The Navigation package then adds navigation and a digital instrument cluster. Both trims can also add the standalone option of a 14-speaker Bose sound system.
The IIHS has tested the 2018 model and it achieved “Good” scores for all the crashworthiness tests. The front crash prevention was not rated and its headlights were rated “Poor”, thus exhibiting lackluster scores for the crash avoidance and mitigation tests. Standard safety features that come with the base trim include a rearview camera and front and rear parking sensors. Advanced safety and driver assist technologies include hill descent assist, central locking system, electronic stability control with off-road control settings, anti-theft alarms and tire pressure monitoring. Only the Premium Plus trim comes standard with blind-spot monitoring.
The 2018 model has a 172.8-inch length, a 72.1-inch width, 62.6-inch height and a 102.5-inch wheelbase. The 2018 model is virtually identical in terms of the exterior compared to last year’s model. It retains the same angular front fascia and hatchback-esque rear door. Silver roof rails and a sunroof come standard. The Premium and Premium Plus trims come standard with 18-inch wheels. The Sport Package includes 19-inch wheels for both and adding it on to the Premium Plus trim gives sporty exterior parts and a different design for the wheels.
As a subcompact crossover, entering the cabin of the Q3 didn’t require stepping up unlike its bigger SUV siblings. The front doors of the Q3 open generous enough but the rear doors don’t reveal that much of a wide entryway. It can be a challenge for larger passengers. Legroom and headroom in the front is good, but the sleeker roofline takes away headroom at back and legroom is limited. There is room for five people inside and the seats they rest on is very comfortable without flattening out. The rear seats however cannot recline but for people on both rows, longer trips did not bring fatigue to the lower limbs. Leather upholstery comes standard for the base trim and is very much a welcome addition. The soft suspension may not be sporty through the turn but it more than compensates in terms of ride quality. It is settled on smooth pavement and although the bigger wheels can be less forgiving, majority of the bumps were absorbed well. All sorts of noises were attenuated to very low levels to deliver a quiet and plush ambience inside the cabin.
Behind the second row of seats is 16.7 cu. ft. of space available for cargo, and once the seats are folded down the space expands to 50.3 cu. ft.