At first glance, the 2022 Audi Q3 may seem like it’s nothing more than a shrunken-down version of its bigger Q SUV siblings, especially the elegantly bespoke Q8. But the little 3 has managed to carve out a unique niche for itself over the past few years thanks to the family resemblance as well as its compact dimensions. But its spot in the compact luxury CUV pecking order is being threatened by rivals like the BMW X1 and the Mercedes-Benz GLA. Can the Q3 still be the compelling value darling for Audi?
Handsome Styling Allows Q3 To Make Full Use Of Family Heritage
The exterior styling of the Q3 is handsome, and it looks classy, especially when paired with certain color combinations. Our Ibis White grade tester preferred to blend into the background, but the front fascia is still handsome, with just enough built-in aggressiveness to make it stand out somewhat. The side profile makes full use of the sloping roof, and it leads the eye to the shapely rear taillights. Our tester came with the standard S-Line package, which adds some design enhancements to the Q3, including special S-Line treatment for the bumpers, standard LED head and taillights, and a pair of S-Line badges on the front fenders.
When looked at by the sum of its parts, the Q3 is in a figurative middle ground when compared to some of its rivals. On the one-hand, the Audi lacks some of the flash offered by the BMW X1, but at the same time, it has a leg up over the Mercedes GLA, which can still look pretty awkward when viewed from certain angles. That said, we highly recommend that buyers looking to make a more potent styling statement go for one of the darker colors in the color portfolio, especially black, red, and blue.
Q3 Interior Is Vastly Improved For 2023
Slip inside the Q3, and you’ll immediately notice the improved driving position, which is less cramped than before, and it also gives drivers more leg and knee room. The front seats also get extra bolstering due to the S-Line treatment, which allows them to provide better lumbar support and bolstering. The spacious front seats also provide plenty of visibility, and the Digital Cockpit system on our tester is crisp and brings a wide variety of functions to the driver’s line of sight, including the map for the navigation system.
But while the front half of the Q3 is spacious, the rear seats are still cramped, and taller passengers will find cramped legroom when they sit inside for long journeys. Fold the rear seats down, and the space can haul w wide range of stuff. Our tester arrived with the standard 8.8-inch infotainment system, but buyers can opt for a larger 10.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The low positioning for both systems is distracting, and you should use the Digital Cockpit system for certain functions. A panoramic sunroof lets in copious amounts of the sky, while the optional ambient lighting system adds splashes of vivid color in nighttime driving.
Turbo Lag Dulls Q3 Driving Experience; Suspension Is Star Of The Show
All Q3 models are powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 228 hp which is a commendable amount of power for city driving, with the power being routed to all four wheels through the Quattro all-wheel-drive system and an eight-speed automatic. However, the big problem here is turbo lag, with our tester having a noticeable lag of time between your right foot hitting the throttle and the turbo spooling up all the way to give you maximum acceleration. Once the turbo warms up, it turns the Q3 into an impressive freeway commuter, and the eight-speed did a good job delivering smooth, crisp shifts.
Like other compact luxury CUVs, the Q3’s steering is light, but its does have a direct feel, and its not too mushy at high speeds. The suspension also did a good job muting rough roads but some of Michigan’s rougher roads do remind you of their presence occasionally when you’re in the Q3, especially those with abrupt ruts. Curvier roads allowed the Q3 to show off its dancing shoes and like its larger siblings, the Q3 tackles ribboned sections of tarmac with confidence especially when the suspension and transmission is placed into Sport mode to help add some more confidence to the Q3’s performance.
Pricing for the 2022 Audi Q3 places it firmly in the compact luxury CUV segment with a base S Line 45TFSI Quattro starting at $39,895 (all pricing includes destination). Our tester arrived with over $6,000 in options which caused the price to go up to a grand total of $48,990. That’s just below $50,000 and the base price is slightly higher than a BMW X1 but the Audi does undercut a comparably equipped all-wheel drive GLA250 4Matic
This middle-ground approach will please some wallets but buyers looking for more performance will not find it here. Unlike the GLA as well as the bigger Q5, Audi is not offering an SQ3 variant and that’s a shame since models like the Hyundai Kona N, GLA AMG, and a few others are showing that the market is there for a pint sized performance utility no matter what price point your willing to work with. Here’s hoping that Audi will eventually get the message with the next generation Q3 and offer a spicier version for them to try.
Until then, the 2022 Audi Q3 will continue to be the balanced purchase for luxury compact SUV buyers. While it might not be as rich with features as the GLA and not as dynamic as the X1, the Q3 makes up for it by being more livable day to day and for many buyers that’s often enough for them to go through with a purchase.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.