Mini crossovers are, like, sooooo hot right now. This season’s colours are mini, crossover and luxury. Get your 2015 garage-style upgrade here. It seems lately like the automotive world is as fickle as the fashion world. And right now in Canada there is nothing hotter than a small, luxury crossover.
Enter the 2015 Audi Q3. The little Audi cute-ute has been sold elsewhere since 2011 but is a recent addition to Canada’s lineup. An update is due later this year and a second generation is due in 2018, so we’re joining the Q3 soiree midway through the cycle.
While sold as a diesel elsewhere, the Q3 is sold here in 2.0TFSI trim only, which means it’s a 2.0L direct-injected turbocharged four-cylinder. The Q3 is a natural competitor for the GLA and the X1, but it has one other interesting side effect – it might appease some of those who mourn the loss of an A3 hatch. The A3 is now relegated to three-box configuration in Canada (the e-Tron is another story) and the Q3 is not so oversized that it is outside their reach.
That’s just a topping on this cake, though. Mini-crossovers (not to be confused with Mini crossovers) are the fastest-growing segment in Canada. They’re huge and Audi knows that this one will attract customers. Ease-of-entry, ground clearance – for the snow, you see, a confidence-inspiring high driving position and hatchback utility all combine here.
The small footprint is ideal for city dwellers and the 1,670 kg curb weight is small enough to keep the 200 hp/207 lb-ft 2.0L four cylinder feeling zippy. The 473 L cargo area is a ways shy of say an Encore at 530 L – but that’s a function of the sleek and curvy backside. With the rear seats flat there is 1,365 L available – a lot closer to the Encore’s maximum of 1,371.
The Encore is cute, but the Q3 is downright adorable. I have family with a Q5, they were enamoured by the lines of the funky little Q3 – so much so they’d be willing to forego the extra room of the Q5. From the driver’s seat the smaller passenger volume is not particularly noticeable.
My wife, who avoids frivolous adjectives like they’re the plague, called it “pretty”. All the controls are mounted up on the dash, which while more awkward ergonomically, frees up space between the seats and gives the cabin an airy feel. The backseat is cramped for legroom but I found headroom adequate. There are tires taller than me though, so your results may vary.
With the HMI control knob mounted in the centre stack and not down on the centre console a lot of the usability and ergonomic excellence is removed from Audi’s infotainment system. The steering wheel controls mean basic audio functions are still well taken care of, but inputting navigation commands and scrolling through the menus is all of a sudden far more difficult and attention consuming. It’s bizarre how the natural rest position of your arm when using console-mounted Audi systems improves the user experience.