2015 Audi Q3 Expands Compact Luxury Crossover SUV Class

At the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Audi is introducing its latest luxury crossover SUV, the 2015 Q3. The new model slots into Audi's lineup beneath the larger Q5 and Q7, giving the automaker a three-vehicle strategy in the segment.

?In introducing the new Q3 to the media, Scott Keogh, president, Audi of America, said, "Our growing SUV family will now offer three distinct products in the premium SUV category; and like the successful Q5 and Q7, the Q3 will continue with the established standards they started with regards to utility, technology, craftsmanship and performance."

The new 2015 Audi Q3 is not a large vehicle, and while it has seating for up to five occupants, the new crossover's cargo-toting capabilities are rather tight. Audi says the Q3 will carry 16.2 cu. ft. of cargo behind the rear seat, and a maximum of 48.2 cu. ft. with the rear seat folded down. To get a sense of that size, consider this: a Buick Encore holds more stuff.

A Buick is not the Audi's primary competitor, though. Rather, the new Q3 is expected to be cross-shopped primarily with the BMW X1, Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, and Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class, though other models such as the Acura RDX, Infiniti QX50, and Lincoln MKC may also be considered by shoppers.

Audi will install a turbocharged, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine under the Q3's aluminum hood, preliminarily estimated to make 200 horsepower and 207 lb.-ft. of torque, figures that are familiar to anyone who owns a Volkswagen GTI with this same power plant. The engine is paired to a 6-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission with manual shift capability and delivers the power to the Q3's front wheels, unless the buyer chooses the optional Quattro permanent all-wheel-drive system. Buyers can also equip the new Q3 with Audi Drive Select, which calibrates the powertrain and other mechanical hardware to Comfort, Dynamic, and Auto driving modes.

In describing the new Q3's exterior styling, Audi refers to the crossover SUV as "coupe-like." Standard equipment includes 18-inch aluminum wheels, LED running lights and taillights, LED side mirror signal indicators, and Xenon Plus headlights. A panoramic sunroof is also standard for the new Audi Q3, along with leather seats, 12-way power front seats, heated front seats, and a passive keyless entry system with push-button starting.

As might be expected, Audi will offer buyers several ways to upgrade the 2015 Q3. In addition to a navigation system and a premium surround-sound audio system, the new Q3 is offered with side-impact air bags for rear-seat occupants, a power tailgate that can be programmed to open to specific heights, and Audi Connect technology including a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot. A Driver Assistance package adds a blind-spot monitoring system and a reversing camera, and a Sport package includes larger 19-inch aluminum wheels and sport-bolstered front seats.

Audi expects the new 2015 Q3 to arrive in U.S. showrooms in the fall of 2014. Prices will be finalized closer to the SUV's on-sale date.

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