First Look – Audi Debuts All-New Q3 for 2019
Expect a U.S. Arrival Sometime Next Year
Although it’s only been on sale in the U.S. since the 2015 model year, the subcompact Audi Q3 is actually one of the company’s oldest designs, available in global markets since 2011. As such, Audi will completely redesign the Q3 for the 2019 model year, giving it familiar, yet modern styling and new technologies.
The Q3, which will arrive in European showrooms in November and American dealers sometime next year, borrows many cues from the all-new Audi Q8. Up front is a wide, octagonal grille with vertical accent bars, a styling feature that debuted on the Q8 and will spread to all of Audi’s utility models soon. Narrow, cantilevered headlamps receive delta-shaped LED accents, an unusual styling feature we like a lot. Below the headlights are aggressive air inlets that double as foglamp openings; those of the blue Q3 pictured are much more aggressive and feature satin aluminum accents, leading us to believe the 2019 Q3 will be available with an S-Line sport appearance package.
Pronounced front and rear fenders connect to each other through a horizontal character line that runs parallel to the Q3’s windowsill. The look is reminiscent of the box flares found on Audi’s legendary Sport Quattro rally car of the 1980s, and it recalls the larger Q8 as well. In profile, the 2019 Q3 gets a bit less bulbous than its predecessor, trading arch-shaped window openings for a sharper greenhouse. It reminds us of the one-size-up Q5, one of the handsomest SUVs on the market.
Taillights shaped very much like the headlights dominate the rear end. The rear lighting also includes similar arrow-shaped LED light pipes, and lots of horizontal lines emphasize the SUV’s visual width. A wide and long roof spoiler adds an element of sportiness as well. Furthermore, black-trimmed cladding wraps around most of the rear bumper, as well as the rocker panels and front bumper, to make the Q3 look slimmer than it actually is. We could do without as much sculpting in that black plastic, and the outsized rear exhaust outlets are almost certainly phony. Nevertheless, the Q3 is styled very well to look aggressive without being too silly.
Inside, Audi will offer the Q3 with its Virtual Cockpit digital instrument panel, as well as a very sleek infotainment system hidden behind a pane of glass that sweeps across the dashboard with a geometric design. Horizontally oriented HVAC vents join with the rest of the dashboard styling to again simulate width and alleviate claustrophobia. The photo model’s interior is trimmed in nice-looking black material trimmed with tan stitching and suedelike inserts.
The rear seat looks somewhat cramped, but that’s to be expected in this class of car, which usually only transports two occupants long distances. At least Audi included contrast stitching and sueded inserts back there as well, and a 3-inch-longer wheelbase will likely result in improved interior space compared to the 2018 Q3. Audi quotes interior luggage space as 18.7 cubic feet—or 53.9 with the rear seats folded down—and the rear seats adjust 5.9 inches fore-aft to prioritize passenger or cargo space.
Surprisingly, Audi is expanding the Q3’s off-road performance envelope somewhat by offering optional hill-descent control and all-wheel drive (front-drive is standard). The Q3 will be available in Europe with one diesel and three gasoline engines, with power ranging between 150 hp and 230 hp. Don’t expect the oil-burner to make it stateside, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see a base 1.4L turbocharged I-4 making 160 hp and an upmarket 2.0L turbo with that aforementioned 230 hp. An SQ3 variant might be on offer as well, with a 292hp engine borrowed from the S3 sedan. Regardless of engine choice, each Q3 will get a seven-speed dual-clutch automated transmission with fast, smooth shifts.
Pricing for Audi’s BMW X1/X2 rival shouldn’t change much compared to the current vehicle, but nothing, not even market timing, has been confirmed for the U.S. model. But we’d bet we’ll see the new Q3 in American dealerships by about the middle of 2019, with prices ranging between $33,000 for a base model and $45,000 for a fully loaded variant.