Sales of compact crossover SUVs are booming and Audi is set to have one of the strongest offerings next year in the form of a redesigned Q3.
The new Q3 was unveiled on Wednesday and is expected to reach U.S. showrooms in the first half of 2019, bringing with it a sharp new look, increased proportions, and loads of tech in the cabin.
Underpinning the vehicle is the Volkswagen Group’s flexible MQB platform that Audi also uses in its A1, A3 and TT. At 176.5 inches, the new Q3’s length is up 3.8 inches compared to its predecessor, with 3.0 inches of that between the wheels and thus benefiting cabin space. The vehicle is also 1.0 inch wider and 0.2 inches lower. With the rear seats folded flat, storage space is an impressive 53.9 cubic feet.
Specifications for the U.S. are yet to be announced but in other markets Audi will offer its latest Q3 with three gasoline engines and one diesel. All are turbocharged inline-4s and the most powerful unit delivers 230 horsepower. Transmissions include six-speed manual and seven-speed dual-clutch units. All-wheel drive is offered and can be enhanced with a hill descent feature that maintains a preset speed on steep downhill gradients.
This is in addition to a driving modes selector which adjusts a number of dynamic settings, including, when specified, the suspension damping. Alternatively, there is a sport-tuned suspension with stiffer settings for the springs and damping as well as the electronic power steering. The sport suspension is included as standard on Q3s equipped with the S Line package. The regular wheels measure 17 and 18 inches in diameter but a 20-inch Audi Sport set is available.
On the outside, the design, while evolutionary, has become much more muscular. This is especially through for the fenders whose strong character lines are a nod to the Audi Quattro of the 1980s.
The interior is where the designers have really amped things up, though. Resembling the design found in Audi’s upper end models, the dash is divided into two levels, with the top part integrating the air vents and a digital instrument cluster and the bottom part integrating a large octagonal area containing an infotainment screen and black-panel surround. Apple Car Play and Android Auto smartphone integration is included.
Audi also makes available numerous electronic driver aids. These include adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, front collision warning with cyclist and pedestrian detection, park assist with automated steering, and a surround-view camera capable of providing a detailed view of the wheels so you don’t scuff them when curbside parking.
Further out, look for Audi Sport to launch its new generation of the high-performance RS Q3, and this time it’s expected to be sold here. An e-tron plug-in hybrid option is also expected to make its way into the Q3 lineup at some point.