The 2012 Audi Q3 marks the company's foray into the extremely popular sport utility market. Although pint-sized, when compared to other SUVs in its class, the Q3 offers similar practicality with impressive fuel economy and slightly better performance. The Q3 functions as the sporty little brother of the Q5, with the same, though somehow quieter, 211 horsepower, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine as the A5 coupe. Power delivery is more than what most drivers need, and at 235 pound-feet of torque, it can easily pull a modest load. Sadly, the electronic stability control can put a damper on road-based shenanigans. On a positive note though, it is based on the VW Tiguan, which itself is based on the Porsche Cayenne, so the handling is top-notch.
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Audi engineers seem to have taken an economic approach when creating the Q3. The frame is made of various light-weight steels, while the body panels are aluminum, nearly as light as carbon fiber, but significantly cheaper. Fuel economy is fairly good because of the lightweight frame and substantially low drag coefficient. Of course, as always with Audi, you have to take the good with the bad. The 2012 Q3 suffers from the same fault that most others in this line do; minimal features come standard. For a well-equipped model, buyers can expect to pay through the nose, and then some. Options which are standard on competing models are optional extras on the Q3. Just a few examples include xenon headlights, keyless entry and premium sound. Why is it that other manufacturers throw in these thoughtful features, yet Audi chooses to charge for them? They certainly are not doing any favors with MSRP either.
This does allow buyers to customize their vehicles exactly as they want though. However, even in a bare-bones configuration, the 2012 Audi Q3 is still quite comfortable and incredibly gorgeous. While small, there is plenty of room to fit passengers in all five seats, and still room to toss some stuff in the back. The interior trim is premium and the seats are very comfortable. If owners need more space, the rear seats can fold down, nearly doubling the amount of available cargo room. If you are fed up with Audi's elegant and understated styling, look elsewhere. Sadly, the Q3 was not designed with the United States in mind, so American buyers may be left out in the cold for this model. However, the rest of the world can enjoy Audi's refinement, handling and performance in this pint-sized luxury sport utility vehicle.