By on March 31, 2017

2017 Audi Q3 Quattro Daytona Grey - Image: © Timothy Cain

2017 Audi Q3 Quattro

2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four, DOHC (200 horsepower @ 5,100 rpm; 207 lb-ft @ 1,700 rpm)

Six-speed dual-clutch automatic, all-wheel drive

20 city / 28 highway / 23 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

11.9 city / 8.4 highway / 10.3 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

19.4 mpg [12.1 L/100 km] (Observed)

Base Price: $32,750 (U.S) / $36,695 (Canada)

As Tested: $44,150 (U.S.) / $49,905 (Canada)

Prices include $950 freight charge in the United States and $2,095 in Canada.

Some cars genuinely suck. There is essentially no price at which, for instance, wooden ride quality and inept handling and nonexistent acceleration and uncomfortable seats and disappointing fuel economy are worth the asking price. There are simply far too many decent alternatives for a vehicle such as, oh, I don’t know, the Mitsubishi Mirage.

Some cars, however, only suck in the context of their respective MSRPs. Take the Ford Flex we reviewed recently as an example. Though showing signs of age, it’s still a fine family hauler. But at the $50,000 as-tested price, the Flex is uncompetitive.

Then there’s this 2017 Audi Q3. Perhaps it’s an acceptable machine at its $33,875 entry price. But optioned up to $44,150, the aged Q3 may be guilty of simply resting upon the laurels of its four-ring badge.

Does the 2017 Audi Q3 suck, or does it only suck when it strays out of Single-A ball into the Major Leagues?

In some ways, it just sucks.

2017 Audi Q3 Quattro – Image: © Timothy Cain

“Ride comfort” is not an applicable phrase. Nothing about the way the Q3 makes its way down the road will ever cause you to think of comfort. Though exacerbated in our test specimen by monstrous 20-inch wheels and their 255/35R20 tires, all Q3s are inhibited by a short 102.5-inch wheelbase.

Inside, other than a pair of downmarket shift paddles, material quality is of a sufficiently high quality. But the design as a whole screams 2009; 2011 if you’re being kind. Controls aren’t where they ought to be, there are numerous blank switches, the MMI architecture is un-Audi-like, and the seating position is more reminiscent of a bus than a TT.

Worst of all, particularly in a $44,150 Audi, are the refinement issues. The tires hum persistently, always working to get your attention. The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is heard too often and too easily. Wind noise around the A-pillars is excessive.

It feels old. And so it should. The 2017 Audi Q3 represents the third model year for the Q3 in North America, but Q3 production began way back in 2011, and the Q3 rides on a platform that dates back to 2008.

2017 Audi Q3 Quattro - Image: © Timothy Cain

There’s a certain charm, however. The Audi Q3 doesn’t merely feel like little more than an expensive Volkswagen. The interior layout is differentiated by a typical Audi darkness in the cabin, which contrasts with abundant light from the standard panoramic glass roof.

The standard 2.0-liter turbo is always willing, helped by a quick and smooth-shifting six-speed automatic.

Front-facing child seat space is tolerable considering the tidy exterior dimensions. Upgraded Bose audio is impressive.

From some angles, on these stunning 20-inch wheels, the Q3 looks a treat parked downtown on a snowy Friday night.

And in snowy conditions, fitted with Pirelli Sottozero winter rubber, the Audi Q3 proved to be a nimble and accomplished little runabout.

2017 Audi Q3 interior – Image: © Timothy Cain

But even the Q3’s positive traits are contravened by corresponding negative traits. Sure, it doesn’t feel exactly like an upmarket Volkswagen, but a new Golf feels more premium.

Even many luxury buyers won’t feel the need to pay the premium Audi must charge for fitting the panoramic roof as standard equipment.

That willing 2.0-liter turbo doesn’t return the kind of acceleration you’ll find in a Mercedes-Benz GLA or BMW X1.

You can squeeze kids in the back, but the cabin is still snug in every direction, and cargo capacity falls 10 cubic feet shy of the X1.

Those 20-inch wheels that look so good are terrorized by anything other than perfect pavement.

And the Q3’s impressive winter-rubber snow performance is now downright common — Quattro doesn’t have the same meaning in 2017 than it had in 1987.

2017 Audi Q3 interior detail – Images: © Timothy Cain

You can attempt to ascertain whether the Audi Q3 is a good car in the most general sense of the term. Debate amongst yourselves.

You can argue over the merits of the Audi Q3 as a competitive $44,150 subcompact luxury crossover. Let the debate rage on.

But it’s clear a second test, in a Q3 nearly identical to the Q3 I drove a year ago, produces a firm, undebatable verdict within the confines of another key deliberation: the 2017 Audi Q3 is not a good Audi. Not at $32,750; not at $44,150.

With signs of old age prevalent, disappointing on-road behavior, questionable interior design, and a second-generation Audi Q5 entering showrooms, the 2017 Audi Q3’s best before date is now a distant memory.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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46 Comments on “2017 Audi Q3 Quattro Review – At What Cost?...”


  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Yeah, I think the Q3 will get quite a bit nicer once it moves to the MQB platform that the Mk.7 Golf sits on. As it stands, I certainly would not purchase one. For $44,000, a lightly-optioned compact SUV is a better option than this subcompact jalopy. Or, maybe I’d go for that new CX-5 (or even the current one!) and save tens of thousands of dollars.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Wow. I wasn’t expecting Tim to lay down an old-school TTAC review. It’s like I was back in the Farago era. All it was missing was some alliteration.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    By pure coincidence, while having my GTI serviced, I drove a Q3 and a Golf AllTrack back to back. I was totally turned off by the Audi. And the ride was indeed busy and unpleasant. And the interior is gloomy. A while back, I drove the A4 and thought it was excellent, and I’ve owned several Audis previously. The AllTrack was the surprise of the day. The ride is excellent, the noise level is quite low, and the interior has a high level of quality. Also, it handled extremely well, just about as well as any other Golf. The only sticking point is that CR rates Audi reliability highly and VW fairly low.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    It’s a good looking CUV – for what it is. But at that price point – I would go 4Runner. I’m not a huge fan of the looks of the current 4Runner but it will depreciate better (and last longer).

    • 0 avatar
      White Shadow

      The 4Runner is pretty much the polar opposite of the Q3 in the world of CUV/SUV. Nobody would really cross shop those two vehicles. The 4Runner is an ancient design that has a heavy body-on-frame chassis with clumsy handling, absurd nose dive under heavy braking, and a wallowy ride on the highway. The Q3, in comparison, is a tiny car with AWD and a slightly elevated ride height.

  • avatar
    legacygt

    A relative had the last generation A3 (hatch/wagon)and I felt the same way about that car. It was perfectly fine but nothing about it felt premium or even sporty. In many ways it felt cheap and unrefined (although solidly built). You could have had just as much fun and enjoyed greater luxury in any number of cars costing $10,000 less. Another comment here mentions the CX-5. There is essentially no area in which this Q3 delivers anything better than what you get in a CX-5. However, we know there are people who get something out of the badge on a car and for them I guess $44,000 for a Q3 sounds about right.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      You can get a bigger, better equipped 2016 Buick Envision Prem l for right around $30,000 or less. That is the same price as this Q3 and hold similar value but with more power and better brraking.

  • avatar
    Fred

    This is what happens when you take a perfectly nice 5 door car, (my 2007 A3) jack it up, put 20s on it. Poor handling with a premium price, oh and and you get to sit up high.

  • avatar

    A friend of mine, an Audi lover (despite the recent $6,000 repair bill on his A4), had a Q3 as a loaner. He absolutely hated it.

  • avatar
    Strippo

    This is what successful young women lease after they grow out of their Jeep Wrangler phase. I’m sure it compares favorably.

  • avatar
    VW4motion

    Great review and it basically mimics what my wife and I felt two years ago on our test drive of the A3. The price went up quickly with what we thought were minor upgrades. And it didn’t drive very well on uneven pavement.
    Then we drove the Forester Touring. It drove better, has a better resale value, and will probably be a better overall vehicle. It was also about $14,000 cheaper with the same options as the A3.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      The Forester has 2-3% better residual on a 39 month lease according to Edmunds. Combined with some other unknowns like money factor… Forester holding it value better is an old wives tale.

      • 0 avatar
        VW4motion

        It is interesting how different companies rate residual value and cost of ownership.
        Estimate 5 year depreciation:
        2017 Subaru Forester: 35.4%
        2017 Audi Q3: 41.4%

        http://www.motortrend.com/cars/audi/q3/2017/
        http://www.motortrend.com/cars/subaru/forester/2017

        Both vehicles have great resale value. Forester a little better. But both great.

        • 0 avatar
          NormSV650

          Audi is usually considered luxury where the Subaru is not. Luxury makes do not fair well in holding their value like mainstream makes.

          Just ask Lexus how it’s GS F sport loose 1/3rd of it value in 17 months when Edmund’s bought and tried to sell the car.

          That’s why I like couple thousand mile used or new with $10,000+ on the hood. No need to wait-and-see on residuals.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Sometimes the top trims lose value quicker because the market disagrees with the price to value ratio. We’re in MY17 shortly going into MY18 so MY16 is appropriate for comparison.

            2016 Lexus GS 350 Sedan
            Luxury vehicle
            Model: 2016 Lexus GS
            MSRP: $50,000
            MPG: 20 city / 28 highway
            Horsepower: 311 hp @ 6,400 rpm
            Engine: 3.5 L V6
            Curb weight: 3,726 lbs
            Dimensions: 192-194″ L x 72-73″ W x 57-58″ H
            Tire size: P235/45R18

            MY16 Lex GS RWD 3.5

            7/18/16 $43,500 2,309 5.0 6G/A Silver Lease Southeast Nashville
            1/9/17 $41,400 3,279 5.0 6G/A White Lease Southwest Texas Hobby
            3/20/17 $39,900 9,623 5.0 6G/A White Lease Southeast Atlanta
            2/23/17 $35,000* 9,937 4.5 6G/A Silver Regular West Coast Phoenix
            3/14/17 $41,000 11,723 4.4 6G/- – Silver Regular Southeast Orlando
            3/28/17 $37,000 19,934 2.8 6G/A Blue Lease Southeast Orlando

            Notice the GSes mostly cling to 40, or about 80% which is atypical of FWD Lexes heading into Year Two. Now let’s see the GS F.

            2016 Lexus GS F Sedan
            Luxury vehicle
            Model: 2016 Lexus GS
            MSRP: $84,440
            MPG: 16 city / 24 highway
            Horsepower: 467 hp @ 7,100 rpm
            Engine: 5.0 L V8
            Curb weight: 4,034 lbs
            Dimensions: 192-194″ L x 72-73″ W x 57-58″ H
            Tire size: Front: P255/35R19, rear: P275/35R19

            MY16 Lex GS F

            3/14/17 $42,600* 3,174 – – 8G/A White Regular Southeast Fort Lauderdale
            2/22/17 $60,000 5,224 4.8 8G/A Gray Regular Southeast Palm Beach
            3/1/17 $60,000 9,108 4.9 8G/A Blue Regular Southeast Atlanta
            2/20/17 $59,400 11,250 4.5 8G/A Blue Fleet Northeast Pennsylvania
            3/1/17 $59,900 12,857 5.0 8G/A White Fleet Midwest Kansas City
            2/20/17 $58,000 15,632 4.1 8G/A Orange Fleet Northeast Pennsylvania
            3/2/17 $57,000 18,254 4.4 8G/A White Fleet Southeast Atlanta

            Roughly 75%, or less than the 3.5s. GS F should always stay more valuable than GS 3.5 but it will drop and hold faster, probably around 70% by next MY and 60-65% by year 3-3.5. Still a lot to float on a toy outside of the 1% and coke dealers. There is also an element of less buyers for something like this at certain price points. There are more buyers say in a 30K price point (for a sedan) than say 40, and so on.

            (btw MMR changed, those asterisks indicate not in a sample set it uses to calculate future curves)

        • 0 avatar
          rpn453

          These numbers are ridiculous. The second Forester buyer would be paying essentially the same for years 6 to 15 as the new buyer is paying for years 1 to 5. The extra repair and maintenance costs would then be considered a privilege on top of that. A surcharge, I suppose, for not having to tolerate new car smell, and freedom from worrying about minor cosmetic issues.

          I have seen comparable values on the advertised prices on used car lots, but in that case it’s always assumed that there’s $5000 of negotiating room available.

          50% off new after five years is about the maximum reasonable price for any extremely reliable model in mint condition. Just buy new if it’s beyond that.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            I bought a 2013 Forester XT new, at a significant discount ($26900), in January 2013.

            I sold that car for $22750 (to a dealer!) in April 2016.

            Three years, 24k miles, very good but not perfect condition (a door ding and a couple of tiny scratches), 85 percent.

            And the dealer advertised it at $24999, and it sold quickly (although I don’t know the sale price).

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            Crazy. At least they got one that wasn’t abused.

            A girlfriend of a buddy in university paid $13,500 for a three-year-old, three-door 1998 Toyota Tercel after she decided to go car shopping with her father instead of him. Pretty close to MSRP. He was not impressed, being a guy who I’ve heard referred to as the c-word when it comes to negotiations.

            It always used oil and began using coolant shortly after, requiring an engine rebuild a couple years later for rings and a head gasket. The mechanics at the Toyota dealer in Ontario figured it had been overheated at some point. The records showed that it had been a rental car. It was just off warranty at that time and had been purchased from a Toyota dealer in Saskatchewan so Toyota good-willed half the repair cost.

          • 0 avatar
            VW4motion

            dal,
            Perfect example why we went with a new Forester. We wanted to go with a 2-3 yo used model. It just didn’t seem right to buy a used vehicle that was $4k less then a new model. Maybe it’s just the market we are in, SLC. But, we see crazy prices on used Foresters; Subaru’s in general.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            3 door Tercel? Didn’t know Toyota brought them to Canada. We didn’t get them in the states.

            I would love to have a 3 door Tercel from the 1990s, but I’ll settle for a coupe.

            Edit, according to Wikipeida, the hatch never made it to North America (in that generation).

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            Oops, I was thinking it had a fastback hatch but it must have been a trunk. I didn’t even know they made a real hatchback of that generation in other markets.

            That car had some bad luck. She parked it right on the corner of a busy street outside his apartment one day. It was a Friday or Saturday night so he figured it would be a good idea to move it from the end and put it a few car lengths ahead between the safety of other parked vehicles. A couple hours later, some kid in an old Camaro tried to drift around the corner and lost it, missing the cars on the end and sideswiping the Tercel before coming to an abrupt stop on the bumper of the tow truck parked in front of it. Being red, the paint matching on the repair was quite poor even after they redid it.

            Poor car. But it was in decent shape when they finally sold it so it probably lived a long enough life to eventually rust out in Ontario.

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            The 50% off new is not uncommon in a hot segment like cuvs. The 2013 Buick Encore AWD is only 40% less than MSRP at the 4-year mark at the used car dealerships.

    • 0 avatar
      legacygt

      Bigger than the residuals issue is that the Forester is simply a better car. (And that’s coming from someone who hasn’t particularly liked the Forester since the growth spurt in 2008.) The Q3 is the kind of car that you probably feel really good with for about a month and then start counting the time left on your lease. The Forester is a car that may not impress the neighbors but will continue to pleasantly surprise its owner for years.

      • 0 avatar
        VW4motion

        The 2017 Forester Touring model is actually impressive. Brown leather interior, quieter interior. Very nice from past Forester models.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        The Q3 is Buick Encore size one class down in size from the Forester. The Q5 would be a better comparison based on it’s size but neither of them are up to date with newer cuvs as the lower end models are packing the features and refinement in the competitive segment.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    This is the model for those that don’t shop multiple brands. Miss mid-level manager’s lease is running out on her A3 that seems a little low in a sea of SUV/CUVs, or grandma decides to downsize from the Q7, and when they get to their friendly neighborhood Audi dealer the Q3 is what they end up buying.

  • avatar
    orick

    Hmm. Q3 has a shorter wheelbase than the A3? Also, A3 is on the same platform right now, correct? But A3 seems to more favorable review than the Q3. And it can’t just be the jacked up height.

    Now the A4 is on a new platform, I wonder how long before the A3/Q3 gets updated.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Ridiculous vehicle. Analyze that profile: a passenger cabin with a vestigial cargo area withering on the back, present only to provide some sheet metal to surround the enormous toy wheels. Brittle ride, badly aging, CR-V acceleration, all for $44K, huh? What a deal.

    Tim, I’m struggling to reconcile these two statements in your review:

    “The Audi Q3 doesn’t merely feel like little more than an expensive Volkswagen”
    “Sure, it doesn’t feel exactly like an upmarket Volkswagen, but a new Golf feels more premium.”

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy Cain

      In other words, this isn’t just a Volkswagen interior inside an Audi: it’s differentiated. Which is good.

      Unfortunately, it would be better if it was just a Volkswagen interior with four rings on the steering wheel, because a new Golf’s cabin feels far more with the times than this Q3.

  • avatar
    hreardon

    To pick a nit, technically the Q3 rides on a platform that first debuted in 2005 with the 8P A3.

    This really is the most cynical, badge-engineered and frankly, embarrassing car in Audi’s present lineup. I owned an ’06 A3 for ten years and can echo the commentary here. The 8P chassis transferred every bump and road imperfection into the cabin, was not particularly quiet, and aged quickly – especially when compared to the MQB product that started rolling off the line in 2012.

    Like the present Jetta and North American Passat, once the Q3 moves to the MQB architecture it should become a substantially more compelling package. That so many Americans are buying the Q3 demonstrates the power of branding.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    Looks like an Outlander Sport

  • avatar
    baconator

    Isn’t there a Lincoln that looks almost exactly the same as a Q5, and drives better than the Q3, for about $35k?

  • avatar

    Better feature content, reliability, and warranty in a Buick Encore.


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