Buying or leasing a subcompact premium crossover is a great way for you to own a top-tier luxury-branded vehicle without paying much money. But while these vehicles feature attractive starting prices, the price adds up quickly once you start tacking on expected luxury-oriented features such as leather seating or a sunroof. Luckily, somebody must have forgotten to tell Audi because the 2018 Q3 is feature-rich and much less expensive than its rivals.
In its base form, the Q3 comes with leather upholstery, a panoramic sunroof, a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, and heated front seats. These are all optional extras on the Q3's chief competitors, the Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 and the BMW X1. Combine the superb value with Audi's traditionally excellent interior materials and a comfortable ride quality and you've got a small luxury crossover SUV that's tough to ignore. But the Q3 has some faults. It's not much fun to drive around turns quickly, and steering feel is completely numb and disconnected. The engine also disappoints; it's thirsty and doesn't have enough power to accelerate the Q3 with any real authority. There's also a notable lack of the latest in-car infotainment features. But if speed and tech aren't priorities, the Q3's price tag is sure to entice.
Despite being the smallest and most affordable crossover in the lineup, the 2018 Audi Q3 is loaded with features even in the base Premium trim. But there's also the Premium Plus, which comes with even more. All Q3s are powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. It's paired to a six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, and an all-wheel-drive system (Quattro) is available.
The Premium is very well equipped with standard features that include 18-inch wheels, automatic xenon headlights and wipers, LED daytime running lights and taillights, silver roof rails, a panoramic sunroof, heated mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a monochrome driver information display, heated and eight-way power-adjustable front seats (with four-way lumbar adjustment), a 60/40-split folding rear seat, leather upholstery, ambient interior lighting, Bluetooth, a charge-only USB port, and a 10-speaker audio system with a CD player, an SD card slot, satellite radio and Audi's proprietary digital music interface with a Lightning (iPhone) adapter cable.
Upgrading to the Premium Plus adds the contents of the Premium's Convenience package (keyless entry and ignition, a power liftgate, an auto-dimming mirror and aluminum interior trim). It also includes LED headlights, aluminum exterior trim, power-folding exterior mirrors (with auto-dimming on the driver side) and blind-spot monitoring, which we think is invaluable given the Q3's large blind spots.
Two features packages are available for either trim (though the Premium must be ordered with the Convenience package). The Sport package adds 19-inch wheels, front sport seats, selectable driving modes and steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles. The Audi MMI Navigation Plus package adds a navigation system with online services and a color driver information display.
Adding the Sport package to the Premium Plus opens the door to the Sport Plus package, which includes sportier exterior styling elements and a different wheel design.
The only option available for both trims are the unique wheels from the Sport Plus package. The Premium Plus can also be ordered with wood inlays (replacing the aluminum trim) and a 14-speaker Bose audio system.