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2022 Audi Q3 Review | Second and third impressions

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We’ll say one thing for the 2022 Audi Q3: It makes a good first impression. It has those sharp, architectural good looks Audis are famous for that always seem to attract those with a keen appreciation for modern industrial design. It’s easy to mistake one for the pricier Q5 or even the Q8. The interior doesn’t make as good of an impression, but it can still wow with its big, crystal-clear displays and abundant feature content. Its price tag should also get it noticed as it costs less than most other subcompact luxury crossovers but delivers more standard equipment.

Second, third and fourth impressions are less successful, however. Acceleration from the base engine is awfully pokey for a luxury vehicle, while the stronger 45 TFSI upgrade gets 2 to 3 mpg worse than similarly powered competitors. We’ve repeatedly experienced unnervingly delayed reactions from the eight-speed automatic transmission, and found the numb steering more indicative of a Volkswagen than an Audi. The same could be said of some cabin plastics, too. Finally, this smallest of Audi crossovers is just too darn small. All of its rivals boast more cargo space, as do bigger non-luxury models (especially those from Mazda) whose prices top out where the Q3 begins. So, we can see why it might’ve caught your eye, but we’d suggest taking several closer looks.  

What’s new for 2022?

Blind-spot and rear-cross traffic warning systems are now standard along with parking sensors — all were previously part of the Convenience package. The Premium Plus gains a 360-degree parking camera system. 

What’s the Q3 interior and in-car technology like?

Like other Audis, the Q3 interior is tech-focused and has a rather architectural design with lots of sharp angles. It’s a bit reminiscent of the 1980s. The materials are just OK for the price point. There are more hard plastics than you’ll find in other Audis (even the surprisingly disappointing Q5), and the token strip of metal or wood trim on the right side of our test car’s dash is the epitome of the term “tacked on” — no other such trim appears elsewhere in the cabin.

Audi has packed the interior with technology, including a standard 10.25-inch digital instrument display and an 8.8-inch touchscreen presented high and within easy reach. Both can be upgraded, however, to Audi’s Virtual Cockpit system that increases the instrument unit to 12.3 inches and the center touchscreen to 10.1. We’ve only tested this latter setup and found that the resolution is exquisite, it reacts quickly to inputs and even goes so far as clicking when a virtual button is pressed, the same way Audi’s real buttons have done for years now. Fancy. Feature content is also strong as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included, and we love that the car automatically pairs your phone to work wirelessly with CarPlay after plugging it into a USB port just once.

The touchscreen’s functionality isn’t perfect. We like that the menu options always remain in a channel on the screen’s left side, reducing the back-and-forth between menus. However, there are some foibles associated with the audio controls (we couldn’t figure out how to keep the radio preset list onscreen), and there’s no getting around the fact that a touchscreen draws your eyes away from the road longer. Audi’s old knob-and-screen MMI system could be operated with less glancing at the dash.

How big is the Q3?

The new Q3 is a larger, more practical car than the one it replaced three model years ago. Those upgrading to the new model will find that the 2022 version is not only much nicer inside, but more comfortable and spacious as well. When compared to its competition, however, it’s still one of the smallest out there. Backseat leg- and headroom are comparable to the BMW X2 and Volvo XC40, but the BMW X1, Mercedes GLA and Mercedes GLB are more spacious. 

Worse is the cargo area. Though it’s certainly nice that the back seat slides forward to increase cargo capacity, you basically have to do so in order to come close to the capacity offered by its competition. It is one of the least voluminous crossovers we’ve luggage tested. By contrast, the GLB’s back seat also slides, but doing so takes it from being best-in-segment to rivaling midsize crossovers.

What are the Q3 fuel economy and performance specs?

Every 2022 Q3 comes standard with all-wheel drive (Quattro) and an eight-speed automatic, but there is a choice of two 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four engines.

The first, known as 40 TFSI, produces 184 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. Audi says it goes from zero to 60 mph in 8.6 seconds, which is definitely on the slow end of something with a luxury badge. It returns an EPA-estimated 22 mpg city, 30 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined.

The 45 TFSI version produces 228 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Audi says it’s good for a more acceptable 7.0-second 0-60 time, but even that seems a bit pokey given the Q3’s size and that sizable output. We certainly thought it seemed quicker than that. Fuel economy is 20 mpg city, 28 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined. This is considerably lower than its similarly powered competitors, the Volvo XC40 T5 (25 mpg combined), BMW X3 (26 mpg combined) and Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 (27 mpg combined).

What’s the Q3 like to drive?

Acceleration is invigorating from the 45 TFSI engine, getting up to speed smartly in a way that’s appropriate and expected for a luxury vehicle (even if the 0–60 times underwhelm). The engine note is a bit louder and growlier than expected, especially when compared to Audi’s A4Q5 and Allroad. The transmission is also an issue. Both during our first drive of the Q3 in Nashville and a lengthier test thereafter, we noticed significant hesitation between the accelerator being planted and the engine responding. We didn’t always trust that it would respond quickly enough when pulling into traffic, and there’s some low-speed jerkiness as well. This caused one of our editors to assume the Q3 has a dual-clutch automated manual, which can be prone to such behavior, but there’s actually a traditional eight-speed automatic at work.

Handling is quite good, as the suspension takes a set nicely and maintains composure around corners. Despite having a fixed suspension with no adaptability or multiple settings, it manages to provide both capable handling and an accommodating, well-damped ride. As always, Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive deserves praise, as you can really feel the power being sent rearward to help power you through and out of corners. 

The steering is less praiseworthy, as it’s utterly numb at slower speeds. There’s being lighter for parking reasons, as Audis have been for a decade, but then there’s this dead-fish business that lasts well into around-town speeds. We ended up driving in Dynamic mode just to mitigate it, which is something we rarely need to do these days. It’s perfectly precise at higher speeds, but is still bereft of feel. In this way, the Q3 drives more like a Volkswagen than an Audi (which, under the skin, is actually pretty accurate). 

What other Audi Q3 reviews can I read?

2019 Audi Q3 First Drive

Though we literally got our first drive in a European-spec Q3, this was our first go of the American version on American roads. We include more in-depth information about its specs, engineering, design and what changed.

Audi Q3 Luggage Test

In one of earliest luggage tests, the Q3 shows that it can’t hold that much stuff, especially with the cargo cover in place and the seat pushed all the way rearward (which you’ll likely need to do with passengers). Later tests would show competitors, especially the Mercedes GLB, to be better. 

How much is the 2022 Q3 price and what features are available?

Pricing starts at $35,995, including the $1,095 destination charge. Audi then breaks down the trim hierarchy into Premium and Premium Plus versions (the Prestige has been discontinued), with the 40 TFSI and 45 TFSI engines available with both. The more powerful engine gets sportier S line styling elements and adds $2,000 to the price – we think it’s well worth that if you’re set on the Q3.

Although the Q3’s interior, fuel economy and driving dynamics underwhelm, there’s no denying it provides more equipment for the money than most rivals. It has a lower base price than its German competitors (and the Volvo XC40 when you factor in the Q3’s standard all-wheel drive), yet comes with more standard features. These include 18-inch wheels, automatic LED headlights and wipers, a power liftgate, a panoramic sunroof, three-zone automatic climate control, heated eight-way power front seats, leather upholstery (all of the above competitors have synthetic substitutes standard), the sliding and reclining 40/20/40 back seat, the 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, an 8.8-inch touchscreen, four USB ports (one regular and three USB-C), Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a 10-speaker sound system. The $1,700 Convenience package adds proximity entry and push-button start, a hands-free power liftgate, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning, parking sensors, power-folding and driver auto-dimming mirrors, satellite radio and fancier LED interior lighting.

Key additions to the Premium Plus ($38,295) includes the Convenience package items plus full LED headlights with a different LED lighting signature and adaptive cruise control. Getting the Premium Plus is also mandatory if you want the $2,700 Technology package that includes the Virtual Cockpit digital instrument panel, larger touchscreen, navigation, wireless Apple Carplay and a Bang & Olufsen sound system.

You can find a full breakdown of features, specs and local pricing here on Autoblog

What are the Q3 safety ratings and driver assistance features?

Every 2022 Q3 comes standard with a low-speed forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking system called Audi Pre-Sense as well as lane-departure warning. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are standard with the Premium Plus or Convenience package, and rear-side airbags are a stand-alone option (and are a rare feature for any car). 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Q3 a five-star overall crash rating (out of five), including a four-star frontal rating and five-star side rating. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave it the best possible scores for crash protection and for its standard forward collision-mitigation system (vehicle-to-vehicle), but a “Poor” rating for the Premium trim’s standard headlights kept it from getting a Top Safety Pick award. The upgraded headlights included in the Convenience package and on the Premium Plus got the best-possible rating of “Good,” and most Q3s should be equipped as such.

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