2017 Audi Q3 Premium Rental Review – Bias vs. “Basic”
Confirmation bias can be a difficult thing to overcome in this business. You might not know it, but some people in this industry think I have a preference for the blue oval. Some of my friends in the automotive journalism world have accused me of being pro-Honda. As for me, I’d like to think I can objectively rate any car, but let’s be real here – we’re all humans. We have experiences and prejudices that raise their ugly heads even when we do our best to sink them deep within ourselves.
But there’s a whole class of cars that I personally find objectionable, for the sole reason that I find the types of people driving them to be, well, objectionable. When I think “Luxury Compact CUV”, I think “Basic Bitch. “These vehicles are useless. In most cases, they have less space than their compact car siblings, poorer gas mileage, and prices that skyrocket by at least 5-7. The only reason to buy or (more likely) lease such a Basicmobile is to integrate with the other SAHMs in your subdivision who have seamlessly gone from a college mattress to a PTA vice president in just 10 years old. When a friend of mine recently texted me with, “What do you think of the Audi Q3?” My response was so vile I can’t print it out (and if you think about it that I wrote, that means something).
As a result, I was absolutely determined to hate the 2017 Audi Q3 Premium when I picked it up from the emerald aisle at Miami International Airport. There was only one problem with drinking this particular flavor of hate.
It’s a damn good car.
Of course, it took me a little while to come to this conclusion. I hate that it’s called “Premium”. Premium is the base, no fog lights, no navigation, smaller wheel pattern – so why is it called “Premium?”
For a “Premium” car, the interior is downright disgusting. In fact, that wouldn’t be acceptable in an $ 18,000 car, let alone in a car that starts at US $ 32,900. The buttons and switches feel a lot more Volkswagen than Audi – and that’s nice, considering the interior of the last VW I reviewed (the Golf AllTrack) was miles better than that. While no one in Miami would go for the combination of a black leather interior and a panoramic sunroof in a daily driver, in my rental this made the seating areas a “No Shorts” area because the leather quickly became hot enough in the middle of the day to burn the thighs of unsuspecting passengers.
Then there was the fact that I couldn’t connect my phone to the infotainment system via USB – the port was specifically marked “charge only”. In my seven years of driving over 40 different cars a year, this was a first. Fortunately, connecting via Bluetooth was seamless and easy – just kidding. It was a seven-step disaster that the Q3 made me repeat every time I started the car, forcing me to pair my device multiple times a day.
It wouldn’t have been so boring if the infotainment wasn’t a turn-of-the-century relic. Of course, this is not a touchscreen, as these are available in Ford Fiestas. No, it requires a weird combination of buttons and buttons to use, and none of the menus make sense. And once you’ve successfully paired your device for the third time that morning, it gives you an audio assault unlike any kids banging pots and pans together because the stereo system is inaudible.
Okay, did you get over all the stupid complaints about the interior? Good. Because here’s the good part: the car is absolute fun to drive.
If you can look past the terrible interior and missing fog lights (on a $ 32,900 car!) And that’s a very, very good thing.
The suspension is tuned well enough to make driving on the edge of Miami tolerable, even with the gruesome roads, relentless traffic, and the army of uninsured Altima pilots surrounding you. It somehow manages to be soft enough for everyday comfort, yet stiff enough to make the occasional climb up the ramp at a slightly exhilarating speed. The base 18 inch wheels and the tire combination look a bit small and, again, meet poverty specs in the photos, but in everyday use they combine to provide excellent grip and lateral stability. . This led to all kinds of inappropriate hooning from me and rather curious looks from passers-by, most of whom didn’t expect to see a middle-aged fan at Oakleys chuckling behind the wheel.
The 200-horsepower 2.0-liter four-turbo engine isn’t a powerhouse in itself, but he’s motivated enough that the Q3 feels like you could be relatively competitive in a local autocross, if that were to happen. I was slightly surprised to see that the manufacturer’s test number 0-60 was just a hair’s breadth away under 8 seconds – the little Audi feels a lot livelier than the data suggests. The noise and vibrations from the freeway were tolerable at best, but maybe that’s because the Q3 seems happiest when it spins high and dances in open spaces between cars, rushing into spaces that his bigger brothers couldn’t handle it.
As a result, when I was driving the Q3, I often found myself saying out loud, to no one in particular, “Dude, I love this car.” It’s qualitatively fun to drive, it fits into just about any parking space you want, and it even satisfies the fucking badge inside.
But there’s one thing that’s totally wrong about the Audi Q3 Premium (well, other than it’s called “Premium”) – the price. There’s no way this thing is worth $ 32,900. This is simply not the case. In fact, I would be hard pressed to pay over $ 25,000 for it. The interior is not worth it. The engine, while lively enough, needs an additional 70 to 80 hp to justify that price. The paint is of similar quality to any subcompact on the market. It doesn’t even have fog lights. All this is forgivable in a Golf, even a GTI. None of this is forgivable in a car that is roughly the average transaction price of a vehicle in America. If you want to charge average money, you need to include average content, even if you put all four rings on the grille.
Ultimately, the Audi Q3 is pretty much the opposite of most people who buy it – a good hearted, but just too cheap on the outside to be worth it.
[Images: © Mark “Bark M.” Baruth]