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2013 Audi Q3 Overview
Take one part Passat, one part Golf, a handful of more upscale additions and throw them all in a new crossover body—you’ve suddenly got an Audi. The Q3 is the ringed effort in the compact crossover class, helped along with parts harvested from the A3 Sportback and the TT, which provided the electronics and front subframe and suspension for the Q3, respectively.
While it isn’t released in the States yet—we are ever so reluctant to adopt anything other than a hybrid lately—Europe has already been enjoying this latest small SUV. And in that telltale fashion that is ever so European, the entry-level engine for the Q3 is a 2.0-liter turbodiesel. Starting out with just 138 hp and connected to a 6-speed manual, there’s not much to impress at first look. But as the base trim comes with both FWD and 236 lb-ft of torque, the combination is sure to make for some interesting takeoffs. There’s a base gasoline engine as well, a turbocharged, direct-injected 2.0, but everything from here up is fitted with the fully variable, third-generation Haldex all-wheel-drive (AWD) system. For this version of the gasoline 2.0, you’ll get 168 hp and the same 6-speed manual, but everything else comes with the 7-speed automated dual-clutch transmission. That includes the 175-hp version of the turbodiesel and a 200-hp version of the turbo 2.0.
While these engines can produce some impressive numbers like 45 mpg or a sprint to 60 accomplished in just 6.9 seconds, there’s always something bigger waiting around the next corner. Specifically, a corner at the Nurburgring, where a version of the Q3 powered by the 2.5-liter TFSI engine currently found in the Audi RS3 has been seen taking laps. A prototype was even unveiled at a small press event in Switzerland, where we got to catch a glimpse of the new vented brakes and aero cladding, plus the adoption of the Quattro AWD system. That should be enough to spice things up, if not impress at the pump.
Couple the 300 horses from the 2.5-liter engine with the sprightly handling of the Q3, and I’m guessing some accidents are in certain Audi owners’ futures. At almost a foot shorter than the Q5, the Q3 likes to turn. Tight electro-mechanical steering and a 4-link rear suspension only encourage this tendency, but as the Q3 has been noted as slightly stiff in anything other than its adjustable Comfort suspension mode, perhaps the optional adaptive rear dampers would be a good choice.
Other options include adaptive headlights and a Bose stereo, larger alloys, a 7-inch color display with hard-drive navigation, and a wireless hotspot. Rear storage varies from just over 16 cubic feet with the rear seats up to over 48 with them down, but make no mistake: This is a small vehicle. If its intended use is as family transport, it had better be a young family, because even teens will push the limits of back seat space.
If we continue to see the success of other compact crossover competitors like BMW's X1, you can bet we’ll see the Q3 grace our shores in time. With luck, that can be done without having to create another hybrid, but then, we’re a picky bunch.
A CarGurus contributor since 2008, Michael started his career writing about cars with the SCCA - winning awards during his time as editor of Top End magazine. Since then, his journalistic travels have taken him from NY to Boston to CA, completing a cross-country tour on a restored vintage Suzuki. While his preference is for fine German automobiles - and the extra leg room they so often afford - his first automobile memories center around impromptu Mustang vs. Corvette races down the local highway, in the backseat of his father's latest acquisition.