The 2016 Audi Q3 comes to showrooms this year with a few styling updates and upgrades inside and out that are welcome since our last test drive of the brand’s compact luxury crossover utility.
These updates start with a new grille and headlamp design that’s more in line with the brand’s latest products. On our Prestige trim level here, this means a new set of full LED headlamps that adjust and light your way at corners.
LED daytime running lights, a staple of Audi’s for some time are also redesigned. Tail lights also received a redesign for their LED signature look at night.
S-Line trim is standard on the Prestige model, what used to be black lower cladding at rocker panels and wheel arches is now body color for a more premium look. Wheels here are 19-inch alloys Audi calls an off-road design. Though, if off-roading is your thing you’d likely want smaller wheels.
Inside, heated leather seating is standard here up front as are power adjustments for both the driver and passenger. They are comfortable and have a wide range of adjustments, but there are no memory settings to save your positions.
The design in typical Audi form is businesslike and buttoned down, a theme I very much appreciate. Materials are of an excellent quality no matter where your hands roam and switchgear is typically German, meaning it feels solid and expensive when you use it.
Space inside is plentiful for this class, the power opening panoramic roof really amplifies this sense. Storage space however is limited here and there, on the console for instance there really isn’t a convenient place to lay a phone or other device.
The rear seats offer something unique in the class, an opening pass through in the center to allow long items will still affording seating for two. And of course they do fold down in a 60/40 spit with an easy pull of a latch for a near flat cargo floor.
Under that is a temporary spare tire, always a good thing with and SUV. And of note, if you have the top-end Bose sound system like this one does, the sub-woofer lives in the center of that spare tire.
The interior wins my praise though in this tester a bit dark and cold with its colors and trims. I tend to like warm woods and earth tones, but that’s a personal preference. In all, the interior scores at 5 of 5 stars.
On the technologies, I have to say I was a little let down by the user interface of the updated Audi “Alu-Optic” MMI infotainment system. It seems less intuitive to use on the go than the previous versions, forcing you to do all things through a single knob and four satellite buttons.
Menu layouts require you to page back and forth with some level of effort to do simple tasks like change stations, find your presets, or the media in which you are getting your music from. Add this to the fact that there is no USB port, AppleCar Play or Android Auto functionality and it’s hardly competitive.
The good news is that once you get past the effort level of using the system, the audio quality from the Bose hardware is flat out phenomenal. All-in however, the technologies here earn only 3 of 5 stars.
Moving on to powertrain, under the hood of the Q3 is a 2.0 liter four-cylinder engine with direct-injection and turbocharging. As the Q3 rides on an older platform architecture it isn’t the latest generation of this engine, but here this one still cranks out 200 horsepower.
The engine comes with a six-speed automatic transmission with full sport mode and manual control. And while the Q3 is available with front-wheel drive, our Q3 had Audi’s well known and full automatic Quattro all-wheel drive.
Fuel economy was impressive as the EPA rates it at 20 mpg city, 28 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined which as said I easily beat. This and the engine’s refinement makes for pretty good compensating factors for it not having competitive power. All in, the powertrain rates 4 of 5 stars.
So what we’ve established here is that the Q3 does well on pavement where it’s likely to live 99% of the time. But because of its sporting ride and handling on the pavement, the even mild gravel roads can make it lose its polish. On balance however it still earns 4 of 5 stars.
When it comes to safety, even the relatively long lived Q3 remains front of the class in crash worthiness, earning a Top Safety Pick honor, passing all of their major tests with a Good rating. It misses Top Safety Pick + only because it doesn’t yet offer automatic crash prevention features.
All of this comes down to my last measure of any vehicle and that is quality feel. And here I honestly never once expected to be disappointed and I wasn’t. Fit and finish on this and most Audi’s I have tested are top notch inside and out. It earns 5 of 5 stars.
Value at $42,750 pits it into the comparison to nearest competitors Lexus NX and Lincoln MKC when it comes to measuring features and specifications for the dollar. Both competitors do offer more in the way of content at this price, thus we put value at 4 of 5 stars.
In the total sum of all things, the 2016 Audi Q3 Quattro is rated at 4 of 5 stars for our test drive.