The four rings found in Audi’s emblem may not symbolize a dedication to driving all four wheels, but “Q” certainly does. Found in the Q3, Q5, and Q7 nameplates, the “Q” designates Audi’s Quattro technology. For those unaware, that’s a fancy name for four-wheel-drive. Those models are in contrast this to their sedan lineup, which features the letter “A” (or “S” or “RS”) before each number in the moniker. Audi knows that to succeed in the automotive industry, they need traditional sedans and SUVs too.
The 2021 Audi Q3 is the smallest of the brand’s crossover platforms (unless you consider the A4/A6 allroad). While Audi’s only wagon enjoys a longer wheelbase, the Q3 looks more like an oversized hatch. That said, don’t underestimate the Q3’s ability to seamlessly blend all the elements that make Audi a luxury automotive manufacturer to contend with. The Q3 may not be able to seat a brood of seven like the Q7 does. However, it can still meet your needs with style and grace.
We’ve put together this review on the 2021 Audi Q3. It can help you decide whether you’ll be signing on the dotted line at an Audi dealership. After all, the fierce competition within the compact SUV segment means you have a ton of choices. It might even feel overwhelming for some of you. So we’ve done our best to condense everything you need to know into bite-size pieces you can manage.
The 2021 Audi Q3 makes 184 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque from a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The same engine, tuned different for the “45 TFSI” version of the Q3 is a bit more powerful, making 228 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Paired with an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, this powerplant drives all four wheels from the factory. Hence the Quattro badging. This compact SUV seats up to five people. Somewhat surprisingly (in a good way), the towing capacity tops out at 4,400 pounds when properly equipped.
Choose from the following colors on you brand-new Audi Q3.
- Glacier White Metallic
- Mythos Black Metallic
- Navarra Blue Metallic
- Chronos Gray Metallic
- Pulse Orange
- Ibis White
- Florett Silver Metallic
- NAno Gray Metallic
- Tango Red Metallic
Trimlines and Pricing
There are only two trims to choose from on the 2021 Audi Q3. Features found in last year’s Prestige model have now been broken up into the Technology and Convenience Packages. Each of the two trims is available in 40 TFSI and 45 TSFI versions — the only real difference being the engine power.
With a minimum price tag of $34,000, the base Q3 model still comes with plenty of options. It features powered and heated front seats, paddle shifters, 19-inch wheels, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, an 8.8-inch MMI infotainment touchscreen, and a power liftgate. Leather seating brings a touch of luxury throughout the cabin, along with a tri-zone climate control and a panoramic sunroof. The 45 TFSI Premium model starts at $36,000.
Besides a larger, 10.1-inch touchscreen, this trim level includes a Bang & Olufsen sound system, built-in navigation, keyless entry, satellite radio, power-folding mirrors, remote start, and push-button start. The less powerful version of this Q3 starts at $37,300, with the 45 TFSI model costing $2,000 more.
The Technology and Convenience Packages offer extra goodies like advanced safety features, handwriting recognition, and heated exterior mirrors. The Black Optic package trims out the 2021 Q3 in black accents and unique 19-inch wheels. See your local Audi dealer for more details on additional packages and available accessories. Or check out their website for more details.
The 2021 Audi Q3 earned 5 out of 5 stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It also rated “Good” in all categories from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
Audi equips the 2021 Q3 with the following standard safety equipment: Audi Pre Sense Front and Basic, with lane departure warning. The Pre Sense Front includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and pedestrian detection. Pay a bit more for higher trims and you’ll feel safer with front and rear parking sensors, a surround-view parking camera system, rear cross-traffic alert, traffic sign recognition, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and parallel and perpendicular park assist.
With only powerplant to offer, the 2021 Audi Q3 forces you to take it or leave it when it comes to fuel efficiency. The 2.0-liter turbocharged powerplant should make around 22 city and 30 highway EPA-estimated miles-per-gallon (MPG). That’s nothing to sneeze at, given the standard all-wheel drive and overall footprint of the Q3.
What Others Are Saying…
Speaking of fuel economy, U.S. News noted the 2021 Q3 “trails some of its rivals” in this aspect, along with cargo capacity. There are a few other sticky points on this compact SUV. CarAndDriver pointed out the “tight rear quarters, noticeable turbo lag, [and] a few cheap interior materials.” They also found that though the Q3 “moves with the same grace as its larger siblings when pitched down a twisty section of road,” so “those seeking outright speed may be disappointed.” Both Kelley Blue Book and U.S. News found issues with the “jumpy” and “unrefined” transmission.
Other than those few nit-picking issues, most reviewers agreed the 2021 Q3 offers a solid, well-rounded package for anyone looking for style and all-wheel drive on a small frame. In fact, last year’s model won the 2020 Best Buy Award for subcompact luxury SUVs from Kelley Blue Book. Edmunds also pointed out that “Audi was one of first automakers to introduce an extra-small luxury SUV.” They added that the Q3’s “above-average predicted reliability rating” shows that bring the compact luxury SUV to market was a great decision.
When it comes to stacking the 2021 Q3 up against its classmates, Edmunds says that many of “these rival SUVs are similarly capable but seem to do everything just a little bit better.” However, as KBB points out, the Q3 “isn’t a vehicle that’s about hard-core performance; it’s about the overall experience.” For many consumers, the Audi packaging pulls a bit more draw than other higher-priced SUVs of the same dimensions.
For example, the BMW X1 and X2 twins offer slightly different stylings of what boils down to a compact SUV at a comparable price. As with Audi, BMW does spend a bit more time on their interiors — all-wheel drive is available as well. The same can be said for the Volvo XC40 and the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class. Both of those models start around $36,000 and offer a higher-caliber of interior appointments. Volvo is a brand known for its safety features, but some might find the styling of this compact SUV to be too blocky and less sleek than other competitors.
One of the other competitors you might consider is the Jaguar E-Pace. Slightly larger than its Land Rover Evoque cousin, the E-Pace is neither a hybrid or electric SUV, but it does offer a taste of luxury. This cat will cost you, though, to the tune of about $40,000. Audi’s distant cousin, the Porsche, offers the Macan for a higher price of $50,000. But for that amount you could be in a larger Jaguar F-Pace.
Any way you slice it, you’ll likely need to budget around $35,000-$50,000 for a luxury compact SUV. The rest, as it goes, comes down to the finer details and your own individual preferences.
The Last Word
We hope you’ve found this review of the 2021 Audi Q3 useful in your search for a new vehicle. This small SUV has a lot to offer. It represents the German brand extremely well in its class. Even if you didn’t fall in love with the Q3, we recommend stopping by your local Audi dealership. Not only can you test drive the Q3, but you can also experience the full range of Audi vehicles that could potentially suit your needs.