The small, premium crossover segment is heating up like crazy. It’s white hot. With cars like the BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class and Volvo XC40, it seems as if customers are spoiled for choice. Though, there’s a new car being added to the already stacked lineup — the 2019 Audi Q3.
All-new for 2019, the Audi Q3 replaces its aging, and frankly terrible, predecessor. The first-gen Q3 was a bland, boring, ancient, mindless crossover that was about as interesting as a documentary on ceiling tiles. We compared it to the new BMW X1 a couple of years ago and the Bimmer walked away from it without breaking a sweat. This new car, though, not only looks good but has the tech and specs to really threaten the rest of the segment.
From the outside, there are some good angles and some bad but more good. The front end is probably the only oddball section, to be honest, as its headlights are a bit questionable. Still, its new Q8-inspired face is far more visually interesting and brings a much more presence than its predecessor’s ever did. It looks sporty, aggressive and more premium than its price point would suggest. It also has a powerful shoulder line that spans the length of the car and swells over each wheel arch. So it looks muscular and athletic, unlike the slab-sided original. Out back, it gets interesting LED taillights and, sadly, some fake exhausts.
However, the Audi Q3 is going to steal customers from its rivals not with its exterior looks but with its interior. The cabin of the new Q3 looks very smart, with a massive touchscreen MMI infotainment screen and the always cool Virtual Cockpit digital instrument panel. It also gets a dash that’s slightly tilted toward the driver, a la ’90s BMWs. It’s a cool looking, modern interior with best-in-class technology. The BMW X1 does use BMW’s iDrive and it is excellent but the Q3’s new MMI system is the same you’ll find on the Audi Q8, which is a lot more capable and high-tech than the iDrive system in the X1 (though BMW’s new iDrive featured on the X5 and 8 Series is a step above even Audi’s latest).
The new Audi Q3 is built on the brand’s MQB front-wheel drive architecture, so it share much of its chassis with the Audi A3. Some might point out, rightly, that it’s the same chassis as the Volkswagen Tiguan, so it’s going to be boring. However, we’d like to point out that it’s also the same chassis as the Audi TT RS and that car is hilarious good fun. So the MQB chassis has good bones that can make the Q3 a fun little car. Customers ultimately don’t care about that, though. In this segment, they want something smart, good looking, high-tech, practical and premium. The Audi Q3 seems to be all of those things and it just might combine all of them better than anything else in the segment.