There are plenty of non-luxury compact SUVs that when fully loaded are priced right around where the 2020 Audi Q3 begins. This, despite it being smaller and less equipped than the range-topping Mazda CX-5’s and Honda CR-V’s of the world. To some, that’ll make for dubious value, but as expected for a luxury car, the Q3 justifies its price premium with superior interior quality, cutting-edge technology, stronger performance and, of course, a ritzier brand image. The original Q3 really only offered the latter, but the new one introduced last year finally comes across as the real deal.
It has plenty of competition among luxury players, and although generally well-executed, the 2020 Q3 also has enough demerits (cargo space, fuel economy, steering and transmission response, tech functionality) that making sure to also check out the BMW X1 and X2, Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 and Volvo XC40 is a must. One thing the Q3 does have going for it, though, is a greater amount of standard equipment for a base price that effectively undercuts those rivals. So while some may view the Q3’s value as dubious, in the realm of luxury vehicles, it’s actually pretty good.
What’s the Q3’s interior and in-car technology like?
Like other Audis, the Q3 interior is tech-focused and has a rather architectural design with lots of sharp angles. It’s a bit reminiscent of the 1980s. The materials are just OK for its price point. There are more hard plastics than you’ll find in other Audis, and the token wood strip on the right side of our test car’s dash is the epitome of the term “tacked on” as no other wood appears elsewhere in the cabin.
Audi has packed the interior with technology, including a standard 10.25-inch digital instrument display and an 8.8-inch touchscreen presented high and within easy reach. Both can be upgraded, however, to Audi’s Virtual Cockpit system that increases the instrument unit to 12.3 inches and the center touchscreen to 10.1.
The touchscreen’s functionality isn’t perfect. We like that the menu options always remain in a channel on the screen’s left side, reducing the back-and-forth between menus. However, there are some foibles associated with the audio controls (we couldn’t figure out how to keep the radio preset list onscreen) and there’s no getting around the fact that a touchscreen draws your eyes away from the road longer. Audi’s old knob-and-screen MMI system could be operated with less glancing at the dash.