NASHVILLE, Tenn. — It’s been said that you only get one chance to make a good first impression. That’s just as true in the automotive world, and it’s especially applicable to entry-level luxury vehicles like the 2019 Audi Q3. The automaker’s internal data says that more than two-thirds of all customers who drive a Q3 off the lot will be making their first purchase from a premium brand like Audi. So if Audi has any hope of retaining that customer and hopefully moving them upward in its hierarchy of vehicular offerings, the Q3’s first impression had better be a good one. We’re happy to report that the new Q3 is a vast improvement over the model it replaces. As we found out when we got an early chance to test out the European version of the new Q3, for 2019 Audi’s entry-level crossover gets bigger, more attractive, more powerful, and boasts more standard features than before. On paper it’s a major upgrade, and the good news is that most of those spec-sheet upgrades translate into real benefits in the real world. The 2019 Q3 now rides atop the Volkswagen Group’s ubiquitous MQB platform, but that doesn’t mean it rides and drives like a pumped-up VW Golf. The Q3 gets specific tuning for the United States, but still boasts the kind of firm-but-comfortable ride, quiet composure and responsive handling that suits the four-ringed badge it wears inside its oversize eight-sided "Singleframe" grille. Its bodyside bulges with blistered fenders that ape the look of the much larger and more expensive Q8 and are meant to pay homage to the world-conquering Quattro racing cars of the 1980s. Our test car wore optional S line exterior upgrades that improve the Q3's appearance, especially the geometrical elements in the lower fascia that bracket the Q3’s grille. The S line also gets 19-inch wheels that replace the base car’s 18-inch package. A 20-inch wheel package is optional. Also optional on the S line is a Sport interior package, another desirable upgrade. Sport seats and shift paddles on the steering wheel are worthwhile additions, and matte aluminum trim fits the car’s sense of style. An optional Alcantara Orange package adds — you guessed it — orange Alcantara surfaces to the dash and door panels for $150. We think maybe that package should be offered in a few more palettes, but again, the bright hue suits the Q3’s youthful target demographic. Power is up 28 horsepower and 51 pound-feet of torque for 2019, to a total of 228 hp and 258 lb-ft. Coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission — European Q3s are equipped with a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox that won’t be offered in the States — the 2019 Q3 accelerates from 0-60 in 7.0 seconds. That represents a marked improvement over the previous car, which was 1.2 seconds slower to 60. But it’s still a few tenths behind the 6.3-second run of the BMW X1 and X2 xDrive28i siblings, which exactly match the Q3's power and torque figures …
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|MPG||19 City / 27 Hwy|
|Power||228 @ 5000 rpm|
|Drivetrain||quattro all wheel|
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