There are two ways to approach a brand-new segment in the auto industry. First, an automaker can take a gamble and introduce a completely new vehicle, catering to the specific demands of the marketplace(s) in question. In the compact, premium CUV segment, we've seen Buick do this with the Encore, and Mercedes-Benz with the GLA-Class. The other option is to introduce a vehicle already sold in another market. Considering the amount of time it takes to bring a new vehicle from paper to production, there is plenty to gain in the short-term with this approach. It's not without its downsides, though, as we found after a week behind the wheel of the 2015 Audi Q3, a vehicle that was initially launched in 2011. Cute though it may be – it was referred to at least once by a passerby during our testing as "totes adorbs" – Ingolstadt's decision to introduce a vehicle that's already been on sale for four years, and is effectively approaching the last half of its lifecycle, leaves the Q3 at a significant disadvantage relative to the newer competition. Despite crossing its first auto show stage four years ago, the Q3 remains a handsome little bugger. Audi's designs, while conservative, tend to age very well, and the compact Q3 is no exception. It's like a scaled-down Q5 in most respects, although certain design pieces, like its more aggressively raked rear window and shorter front and rear overhangs, belie the significantly smaller Q3's figure. Due to its age, the Q3 was, fortunately, designed before the current A3 hit the market. That means it avoids the unattractive, minimalist dash of the A3, opting for a more traditional Audi design, with a strip of brushed aluminum on the passenger's side, a user-friendly center stack and a suitably large nav screen front and center. While the overall layout is attractive, the material quality is not what we'd expect of a newer Audi. There's nothing that feels exceedingly cheap – the plastics just feel old and too familiar. It's difficult to describe, but as soon as you climb in the Q3, things like the switchgear for the HVAC controls immediately remind you that this is a vehicle that's been on sale since 2011. While our definition of interior quality has evolved over the years, our idea of a driver-friendly cabin has not. The Q3 scores highly in this regard, featuring the elevated seating position that makes CUVs so popular with the general public. The seats are power-adjustable 12 ways, and the tilt/telescopic steering wheel has a huge range of adjustments. Our tester was fitted with the standard seats, rather than the optional thrones found in the $550 Sport Pack, although they still proved comfortable and supportive during our stint behind the wheel. Despite the compact rear window, visibility is excellent to the rear. It's no surprise, either, that sight lines are good forward and laterally. The diameter of the four-spoke, leather-wrapped steering wheel felt a bit on the large side, considering the …
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|MPG||20 City / 28 Hwy|
|Transmission||6-spd auto w/OD|
|Power||200 @ 5100 rpm|
|Drivetrain||quattro all wheel|
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