2019 Audi Q3 grows up without selling out

5 years, 9 months ago - 25 July 2018, Autoblog
2019 Audi Q3 grows up without selling out
Spiffier exterior sheetmetal covers a larger and more useful crossover

The 2019 Audi Q3 is getting a clean-sheet redo, but given Audi's penchant for gradual evolution rather than drastic change, there's nothing unrecognizable here. The formula is both conservative and appealing: The Q3 grows slightly larger and adopts some high-tech features from Audi's more premium, larger offerings. That should help it stand out even more in a very, very hot segment of the crossover market.

While the Q5 is the hottest seller for Audi, period, demand for the Q3 is increasing. We think a slightly larger Q3 might increase its appeal. So the Q3's size bump — 3.8 inches longer, almost an inch wider, with a 3-inch wheelbase stretch — should make a difference to buyers. Audi tells us interior dimensions are roomier, although not by how much, and that cargo space is up. The outgoing Q3 has 16.7 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats up, 50.3 with it down. The 2019 will sport a full 18.7 and 53.9, respectively, a small but probably useful increase.

The look is also well-balanced. Smaller crossovers tend to have more balanced proportions, and the Q3 is no exception, rocking some Q8-esque features but avoiding some of the more controversial elements of that design. A strong character line above the rear fenders and triangular openings in the lower fascia are the most obvious styling changes. The grille is massive, reflecting broader trends. But overall, and especially in the handsome blue seen above, it's not going to alienate anyone looking for an Audi crossover.

What will really appeal to potential buyers is the increase in noticeable, appealing features like Audi's digital instrument cluster which is now standard. For one, the interior also reflects an influence from the Q8, and that means it's a very upscale, futuristic space. Move up one step to the first upgraded infotainment system, and the Q3 then gets the phenomenal Virtual Cockpit system. The top-of-the-line infotainment option sports an additional 10-inch touchscreen display. Note that Virtual Cockpit is not available in the current Q3 – this is something Audi seems to be rolling out for every newly-refreshed vehicle as they get redone. Audi also says the upgraded MMI system now has the same functionality as the systems in the much nicer models, including a natural voice control feature.

On the performance and handling front, Audi is for now just talking about its European engine lineup, which includes two gas and one diesel engine. It's a safe bet that the Q3 will continue on with the company's now-ubiquitous 2.0-liter, turbocharged gas engine. Audi says it'll sell two versions of this engine globally, a Q3 40 TFSI making 190 horsepower and a Q3 45 TFSI making 230 horsepower. (No, we don't really understand Audi's new engine nomenclature, either. But bigger numbers equal more power.) It seems like the front-drive version will go away for 2019, as Audi says all 2.0-equipped cars are now standard with Quattro all-wheel drive. The only transmission option is the seven-speed "S tronic" dual-clutch.

European deliveries start in the fall, but at this time we don't have any U.S.-specific information. We can make some assumptions that the broad features and specs we're outlining here will apply across the pond. When we have more information and an on-sale date, we'll share that with you.

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