It’s rather strange that consumers are gobbling up as many pint-sized SUVs as manufacturers can possibly build. Sure, a small vehicle is nimbler around town, is more fuel efficient and costs less to buy than bigger ones, but to what extent are people willing to sacrifice interior space?
In the case of the 2016 Audi Q3, a lot. This thing is tiny.
Actually, it’s not significantly smaller than other premium subcompact – or urban – crossovers on the market right now, such as the Buick Encore, the BMW X1, the MINI Countryman, the Mercedes-Benz GLA and the upcoming Infiniti QX30. But tell that to your back-seat passengers.
The Q3 has been available in Europe for a few years now, but it only arrived in Canada for the 2015 model year. Since then, it got a facelift to boast a stronger family resemblance with the new Audi Q7.
Only one engine is available in the 2016 Audi Q3, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The company’s widespread turbocharged, 2.0L four-cylinder engine develops 200 horsepower and 207 lb.-ft. of torque, managed by a six-speed automatic transmission. This is an older generation of the 2.0 TFSI powertrain, but nonetheless provides the little Q3 with lively performance and, during our test, a reasonable fuel economy average of 9.6 L/100 km.
Luxury-brand SUVs typically include AWD as standard equipment in Canada, but there are some exceptions, and the 2016 Audi Q3 is one of them. Our tester was optionally equipped with the brand’s quattro full-time AWD. The Q3 clings to snow-covered streets and effortlessly claws its way to speed. The Q3 feels light, agile and playful.
Up front, the Q3 feels a little cramped, which is normal given its size, though we do get used to it after a few minutes behind the wheel. However, what we can’t get used to are the spring-loaded climate control switches; simple rotary dials would make so much more sense. Oh, there’s no USB port for listening to music, but there are two SD media card slots, so we mustn’t complain too much.
The back seat is obviously this vehicle’s biggest drawback. Two adults will feel cramped, and three people, big or small, will have the impression of being piled up in a can of sardines. Cargo space is rated at a decent 473 litres, or a more useful 1,365 litres when the rear seatbacks are folded.
With a base price of $34,300 before freight and delivery charges, the 2016 Audi Q3 priced to sell. However, we recommend adding quattro, which means an entry fee of $36,800. It’s not the most technically advanced urban luxury crossover on the market or the most fuel efficient, but it’s really fun to drive, it’s got a capable drivetrain and a solid, refined ride that’s among the best in its category.