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2019 Audi Q3 First Drive Review

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2019 Audi Q3 First Drive Review

SOUTH TYROL, Italy — In September, the tight mountain switchbacks of the Dolomites echo with the sound of cyclists and tour buses full of Europeans having fun with the final vestige of summer time. Our tempo slows to a crawl lest we knock a rider over the aspect of the Alps with the 2019 Audi Q3. Nonetheless, even the Italian bus drivers can sometimes transfer with gusto, giving us the prospect to stretch Q3’s surprisingly succesful legs. Like traversing northern Italy in late summer time, the primary-gen Q3 sounded nice on paper. The truth wasn’t so rosy.

The unique Q3 hit the American market in 2015, simply because the compact crossover craze was kicking off. The mannequin was principally a Volkswagen Tiguan (itself based mostly on the sixth-era Volkswagen Golf) with a recent design. It felt dated in contrast with the remainder of Audi’s lineup, because it’d already been on sale in Europe for a number of years earlier than it made its strategy to North America. But the Q3 moved greater than 1.1 million models worldwide over its seven-yr run. Nonetheless, in comparison with newer and extra vigorous merchandise just like the Volvo XC40, BMW X2 and Lexus NX, the Q3 wanted a makeover.

Like the newest crop of Audis, the 2019 Q3’s design is an evolution of the outgoing mannequin. All of the model hallmarks are current — vast, octagonal grille, sharp fenders and copious quantities of LED lighting. The Q3 is aimed toward each youthful consumers in addition to empty nesters on the lookout for one thing small and classy, drawing extra affect from the putting new Q8 than it does from the extra conservative Q5 or Q7, particularly up entrance. There are a selection of wheel designs and brilliant colours not often discovered within the German rainbow (black, white, silver and gray) like Pulse Orange or Turbo Blue. General, it is good-looking and enjoyable with out being too cutesy, or compromising cargo or passenger area to chase a development for pinched rooflines. We have been driving Euro-spec fashions, although the one actual distinction is that America will get an eight-velocity torque converter automated.

The interior — from the design to the supplies to the ergonomics — is true there with Volvo as best-in-class. It is nonetheless very clear and German, nevertheless it not seems like a finances mannequin, one of many weaknesses of the outgoing Q3. The buttons and switchgear not really feel like they’re lifted from a Golf, however as an alternative really feel as in the event that they’re filtered down from costlier fashions. Leather-based seating is standard. There’s nonetheless a bit an excessive amount of piano black and Alcantara, two premium interior clichés at this level.

Volvo may make extra fascinating use of wooden and leather-based, however the Swedes cannot match the German’s tech, particularly Audi’s new infotainment system. The latter takes the clear simplicity of the outgoing mannequin and pairs further apps, extra customization, and touchscreen controls with a massively spectacular handwriting recognition system that may learn entire phrases with out having to slowly enter every letter. The Q3 has as much as 4 USB ports, together with a single USB-C port.

Different features embrace a wi-fi charger/sign booster (the latter works even on telephones with out wi-fi charging), a candy Bang and Olufsen audio system, adaptive cruise management, cross visitors alert and a 360-diploma digital camera. A six-month trial of the Q3’s Wi-Fi system comes standard. Mix all that with the non-compulsory Digital Cockpit digital instrument cluster, and you’ve got an interior that is miles forward of most when it comes to each design and know-how, no less than for now.

Like so many different Volkswagen Group merchandise, the 2019 Q3 is predicated on Volkswagen’s MQB platform, so there’s nonetheless loads of Tiguan beneath. The brand new Q3 is roughly the identical peak because the outgoing mannequin, however general size is up three.eight inches, three.1 of that are between the wheels. The extra wheelbase has two principal advantages: the primary is elevated rear-seat room, one thing helped even additional by the standard sliding rear seats; the second is excessive-velocity stability.

For the U.S., energy comes solely from two variations of Volkswagen’s close to ubiquitous turbocharged inline 4 with two totally different tunings. Base fashions make 184 horsepower and 236 pound-ft of torque, whereas higher trim fashions make 228 horsepower and 258 pound-ft of torque. Energy is shipped to all 4 wheels by means of an eight-velocity automated. Throughout our drive, the one powertrain obtainable to test was the extra highly effective, paired with a seven-velocity twin clutch transmission that will not be obtainable for U.S. consumption.

On the street, the Q3 feels genuinely sporty, like a scorching hatch in trendy trainers. The fast and lightweight steering is paired with a suspension that retains physique roll in verify by way of a nook. The Euro-tuned suspension is agency, a few of which is right down to the 20-inch wheels, however the profit is that the Q3 soaks up bumps with out bouncing and wallowing. By way of the Alps, the Q3 felt planted and will string corners along with shocking grace. It isn’t as buttoned down because the Mk7 Golf or any of its variants, however the household resemblance is there. That ought to be excellent news for these holding out for the possible SQ3.

It helps that the engine is keen to rev. Torque comes low and early, with negligible turbo lag, and the engine provides off a pleasant, subdued growl at excessive revs. The seven-velocity twin-clutch in our test automobiles shifted shortly, although it stuttered a bit when creeping in first gear. Anticipate the eight-velocity automated headed for the U.S. to be a bit higher at low speeds. The entrance seats proved snug over an extended day of driving, although I do want there was a bit extra lateral help. The most important concern with all-day consolation is a few delicate wind noise from the A-pillars.

The 2019 Q3 will not go on sale within the U.S. till summer time or fall 2019, so standard gear, pricing and official fuel financial system numbers aren’t but out there, however anticipate a base price within the mid-$30,000 range. The present mannequin begins at $36,775 when outfitted with all-wheel drive. The competitors are all proper on prime of one another. A equally outfitted Volvo XC40 begins at $36,195, a BMW X2 at $36,895, a Mercedes GLA at $35,950 and a Lexus NX at $38,580.

The Audi has a greater interior than all however perhaps the Volvo, and there it is a matter of private style. The Q3 drives higher, too, with a chassis that feels a bit extra vigorous than the others and a punchy turbo 4. Even the X2’s engine — regardless of having equivalent horsepower and torque ratings — cannot match the Audi’s buttery clean powerband. That stated, the Lexus has a hybrid choice (a plug-in XC40 is on the best way) and the Mercedes-AMG GLA45 presents much more efficiency.

The 2019 Q3 is an actual sweetheart. It distills Audi’s strengths — good-looking designs, partaking dynamics and a premium really feel — right into a compact package deal. In contrast to the outgoing mannequin, it seems like a real Audi fairly than a Volkswagen with a skinny appliqué of Ingolstadt veneer, and it does not compromise performance, visibility or refinement in favor of overcooked styling and a reduction interior just like the GLA or X2. If crossovers are the brand new norm, the 2019 Q3 is step in the fitting path and a marked enchancment over the outgoing mannequin. It is a crossover that is almost nearly as good to drive as any hatchback, and its largest challenge is America’s yr-lengthy wait.

– 2019 Audi Q3 First Drive Review –

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