When Audi’s Q3 showed up on the Canadian subcompact luxury SUV scene in 2014 for the 2015 model year it was already old news in other parts of the world. It had originally launched as a 2012 model in…

Redesigned 2019 Audi Q3 adds style, size and technology to subcompact SUV class

2019 Audi Q3
Audi will introduce an entirely new second-generation Q3 subcompact luxury SUV next spring, and it looks much more upscale than the outgoing version. (Photo: Audi)

When Audi’s Q3 showed up on the Canadian subcompact luxury SUV scene in 2014 for the 2015 model year it was already old news in other parts of the world. It had originally launched as a 2012 model in Europe, so the heavily refreshed 2016 version that soon replaced the first-generation Q3 was a complete surprise for many when it arrived in late 2015. 

That mid-cycle update ushered in a new look for Audi SUVs on the whole. Its equiangular hexagonal singleframe grille grew broader and more sharply edged, with new satin-silver exterior trim for a more sophisticated look. Its headlamps received some subtle revisions too, while a new aluminum hood with reworked sculpting sat overtop, and the lower apron received some minor updates too, depending on trim. Other small updates to the rocker panels and rear bumper cap let aficionados know which model they were looking at no matter the direction of view, but for the rest of us it was the grille up front that made the 2016 Q3 look entirely new. 

2019 Audi Q3
The new Q3 will once again be offered with an S line exterior package, and it looks even more dramatic than the previous generation. (Photo: Audi)

Now, three more years into what is effectively a seven-year model run has the current Q3 showing its age, so this completely redesigned second-generation Q3 will be a much needed breath of fresh air for Audi retailers and fans of the little utility, many of which have been patiently waiting for a redo before upgrading. 

Audi introduced the new and improved 2019 Q3 online over the summer and in the metal at the Paris Motor Show last month, and it’s expected to go on sale during the second quarter of next year. Larger than its predecessor and therefore getting closer to true compact status, the new Q3 rides on parent company Volkswagen group’s MQB platform architecture that also underpins the namesake brand’s much improved Tiguan. 

2019 Audi Q3
The 2019 Q3 is considerably larger than the current model. (Photo: Audi)

To put it in perspective, with a 4,485-mm (176.6-inch) overall length the new 2019 Q3 is 97 mm (3.8 inches) longer than the outgoing model from nose to tail, with a 77-mm (3.0-inch) longer wheelbase that now measures 2,680 mm (105.5 inches). It’s also gained 25 mm (an inch) in width, now spanning 1,856 mm (73.1 inches) from side-to-side, while the new model’s 1,585-mm (62.4-inch) height means that it’s shrunk by 5 mm (0.2 inches) compared to the old Q3. 

Sidle the new Q3 next to the new Tiguan and you’ll find it’s almost identical in length and wheelbase, albeit only when compared against the short-wheelbase VW offered in Europe. The long-wheelbase version we get here is a significant 227 mm (8.9 inches) longer than the new Q3, with 111 mm (4.4 inches) more distance between the axles, but the Q3 is 17 mm (0.7 inches) wider and interestingly 88 mm (3.4 inches) lower overall. This should give the Q3 a sportier stance, thus leaving the Tiguan to more practical utility duties. 

2019 Audi Q3
Performance should be much stronger thanks to a new optional 230-hp 2.0L turbo engine and a more advanced 8-speed automatic. (Photo: Audi)

Of course, Q3 buyers wouldn’t normally be shopping the little Audi against the Tiguan or any other mainstream volume branded SUV, but instead other subcompact luxury SUVs, but how has its increased size placed it amongst its premium peers? The list of subcompact luxury SUVs is long and ever-increasing, with longstanding models like BMW’s X1, Mercedes-Benz’ GLA, Range Rover’s Evoque and Mini’s Countryman more recently joined by Infiniti’s QX30, Jaguar’s E-Pace and Volvo’s XC40, with Lexus’ new UX getting ready to enter the fray next year and Acura recently teasing North American buyers with its China-only CDX. Without going into too much detail, the new Q3 is currently the longest in its class, but will soon be outflanked by the new UX. Its right in the middle with respect to wheelbase length and width, however, while its roofline is lower than class average. 

2019 Audi Q3
The new Q3’s longer wheelbase, wider track and newer chassis architecture should provide for better handling and improved high-speed stability. (Photo: Audi)

So Audi has taken one of the smaller utilities in the class and made it one of the largest, and therefore potentially opened the door to a future Q1. Rather than climb down that rabbit hole, more Canadians will be happier to know the new Q3 has grown as much inside as it has outwardly. For instance, the longer wheelbase translates into more rear legroom, while the rear seats are capable of moving a full 150 mm (5.9 inches) back and forth. What’s more, the rear bench is now fully split in the most convenient 40/20/40 configuration, instead of just 60/40 with a centre pass-through like the previous model. This means there’s more space down the middle to fit longer items like skis when the rear outboard seats are in use, and those rear backrests are even more comfortable thanks to a recline function that can be tilted in seven increments. 

2019 Audi Q3
Even Q3 trims without the S line exterior package deliver a lot more visual presence than the outgoing model. (Photo: Audi)

Back to those skis, you might be able to fit the kids’ boards diagonally in the back thanks to 57 more litres of cargo space behind the rear seatbacks, the new total amounting to 530 litres (18.7 cubic feet), while 160 additional litres of gear-toting room can be had when the rear seatbacks are laid flat for a new maximum of 1,525 litres (53.9 cubic feet). Aiding flexibility, a new removable loading floor can be repositioned in three levels, while the parcel shelf can be stowed beneath the floor when not in use. Lastly, a powered liftgate with “kicking motion” gesture control access is optional. 

2019 Audi Q3
The new eight-sided singleframe grille pulls design cues from the Q8. (Photo: Audi)

Audi hasn’t revealed standard and optional Canadian-specification information yet, but they have announced that a 10.25-inch version of their Audi Virtual Cockpit will be standard across the line in all markets, which will be a big bonus being that similar digital primary gauge clusters are normally pricey options if available from the competition at all—currently the Volvo XC40 is the only rival to offer one as standard kit. As per usual it operates via steering wheel controls, while when upgrading to a higher trim grade featuring optional MMI navigation plus the Virtual Cockpit comes in a larger 12.3-inch form that allows digital mapping, plus other functions, to appear larger in the more configurable multi-information portion of the display, between the speedometer and tachometer. The optional display also includes three different views, featuring new performance graphics that Audi promises to be “particularly sporty”. 

2019 Audi Q3
The exterior detailing is exquisite, and Matrix LED headlamps, complete with sequential turn signals, give off a jewel-like brilliance. (Photo: Audi)

An attractive high-gloss black MMI Touch display with a sophisticated glass-look surround can be found just to the right of the driver within the horizontally designed centre stack that, together with the climate controls just below, is tilted 10 degrees toward the driver. Audi claims its all-new MMI Touch Response infotainment system, which no longer uses a separate controller on the lower console and therefore is more tablet-like in operation, has an “intuitive operating concept” featuring a “flat menu structure” that’s “supplemented by natural-language voice control.” 

In fact, the Q3’s new voice control is said to understand “freely structured wording,” which means it should respond to voice prompts like a modern-day smartphone. According to Audi, the dialog manager can even ask questions if required, plus it “allows corrections, offers choices and defers to the speaker when interrupted.” Now if Audi could only make the front seat passenger so cooperative. 

2019 Audi Q3
The LED taillights include the same trademark sequential turn signals for a cohesive look from front to back. (Photo: Audi)

Additionally, top-tier Q3 trims get an infotainment system with new LTE Advanced standard connectivity featuring a Wi-Fi hotspot, while the navigation interface remembers preferences from previous journeys and then provides possible route suggestions. Audi connect also uses real-time traffic information when guiding via navigation, while point-of-interest searches plus parking space and filling station info appears directly in the map. 

Regarding the search for that illusive parking spot, the new Q3 actually uses swarm intelligence to forecast the availability of roadside parking spaces, plus it also provides info on road hazards and speed limits. 

2019 Audi Q3
The Q3’s interior provides a high level of style and materials quality, even including suede-like Alcantara on key surfaces. (Photo: Audi)

Additional options will include Google Earth and hybrid radio, which automatically switches between FM, DAB and online streaming to provide the best reception possible. 

What’s more, the myAudi app lets you to connect your smartphone to the Q3, so you can transfer your schedule via a calendar app and any pre-organized navigation routes to the car’s MMI infotainment system, or even locate where your Q3 is parked. 

Speaking of phone connectivity, the Audi phone box inductively charges the owner’s smartphone through the Q3’s antenna, while the Audi smartphone interface lets said smartphones link to the MMI display via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. 

Of course, Bluetooth phone connectivity with audio streaming will come standard, but you’ll need to pay extra for the top-line Bang & Olufsen premium audio system that provides three-dimensional virtual sound via 15 speakers including a subwoofer. 

2019 Audi Q3
A 10.25-inch Audi Virtual Cockpit comes standard, but this larger 12.3-inch version is optional. (Photo: Audi)

Technologies that aid driving may be appreciated even more by Q3 owners, such as advanced forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking, and available adaptive cruise assist that combines the functions of adaptive speed assist, low speed traffic jam assist and active lane assist together in one. Audi claims that adaptive cruise assist helps with longitudinal and lateral control to particularly improve “comfort on long journeys.” 

What’s more, the Q3’s four 360-degree cameras, which display on the infotainment touchscreen, make it easier to manoeuver in tight surroundings like parking lots. Even better, when using the available park assist semi-autonomous parking system the Q3’s driver only needs to watch the proceedings on the screen while shifting into the correct gear, applying the throttle, and stepping on the brake when necessary, while the car automatically steers itself in and out of parking spaces. Audi also offers cross traffic assist to warn of oncoming vehicles when reversing out of a parking space, while lane change warning is also part of this suite of safety features. 

2019 Audi Q3
The centre stack is beautifully laid out and appears made from high-quality materials. (Photo: Audi)

Along with interior styling that’s much more dramatic, delivering a true sense of occasion even in this more price-sensitive entry-level luxury class, not to mention interior fit, finish and materials quality that should be a considerable upgrade over the previous Q3, especially if we receive the same two-tone suede-like Alcantara dash, armrest and seat trim being offered to Europeans, Audi also promises an ergonomically designed cabin, which is a claim that’s certainly consistent with its latest offerings. This means that “all displays, buttons and controls” are within easy reach and logically laid out for intuitive operation, while the steering wheel is “steeply angled” to coincide with the “sporty”, albeit “comfortable” driver’s seat. 

2019 Audi Q3
The large MMI infotainment interface no longer includes console-mounted controls, but only works via tablet-like touchscreen gestures. (Photo: Audi)

The outgoing Q3’s driver’s seat delivered a nicely raised view to the road ahead with good visibility all-round, important being that the sense of control that comes as part of this commanding driving position is a key reason that SUVs have become so popular. The new model will continue with its similarly raised profile, while also providing some very real performance improvements to enhance the overall driving experience. 

This will be critical to the new Q3’s success, being that a weakness of the outgoing model was its one-size-fits-all 2.0-litre turbocharged powertrain that made 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque. Such output is quite reasonable for a base engine, yet when put up against some of its competitors’ upgraded powerplant options it was a tad underwhelming. Therefore, the Canadian-spec Q3 will be available with a new 2.0-litre turbocharged and direct injected four-cylinder making 190 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque in base trim, while a new 230 horsepower variant of the same four-cylinder engine with 258 lb-ft of torque will also be available. 

2019 Audi Q3
Audi offers three transmissions in Europe, but we’ll probably only get the eight-speed automatic here in Canada. (Photo: Audi)

Likewise, six-speed manual, “fast-shifting” seven-speed dual-clutch S tronic automated, and eight-speed automatic transmissions will be on offer, but likely only the latter, which adds two more gears over the outgoing Q3’s six-speed Tiptronic automatic, will make it here, with permanent Haldex-type Quattro all-wheel drive as standard equipment, a marked change from the outgoing Q3 that offered Quattro as an upgrade to a base FWD layout. Audi says the Q3’s new hill descent control will maintain a preset speed on steep downhill gradients by simply pushing a button, which should aid the model’s off-road capability. 

Back on the street, the new Q3 will sport an upgraded Audi drive select with a total of six profiles, from “markedly comfortable, highly efficient through to out-and-out sporty.” Audi drive select can also enhance the suspension with adjustable damper control when equipped, which uses sensors to “measure the movements of all four wheels as well as the vehicle’s lateral and longitudinal acceleration,” before automatically making adjustments. 

2019 Audi Q3
Rear seat roominess should be much improved thanks to a longer wheelbase. (Photo: Audi)

Alternatively, the S line exterior package includes a sport suspension that provides more progressive steering tuning with a more direct feel via increased steering angle, while it firms up the Q3’s springs and dampers too. Previously, steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters were also added as part of the upgraded sport package, but we’ll need to wait and see what Audi has in store for our Canadian-spec model. 

We also won’t know about the 2019 Q3’s fuel economy until closer to its arrival, but if it’s anywhere close to the current model’s 11.9 L/100km city, 8.4 highway and 10.3 combined AWD rating, it will be very competitive. 

2019 Audi Q3
The new 2019 Q3 should find a lot of entry-level luxury SUV buyers when it arrives next spring. (Photo: Audi)

Lastly, the new model is arguably better looking too, with its most striking feature a new equiangular octagon grille, adding two more sides to Audi’s now trademark singleframe design. We first saw this with the new Q8 four-door crossover/coupe, and it’s also appeared in various Q2, Q4 and Q6 renderings and concepts, so we can feel pretty confident it’s the new face of Audi SUVs, at least. All of the new cars still feature versions of the now classic six-sided grille, albeit featuring sharper edging with each new model, but this new ovoid look is appealing within the brand’s crossover SUV lineup, giving the Q3 distinctive character. 

The new grille gets divided up with vertical bars and large air inlets, the look made more dramatic when opting for the aforementioned S line exterior package that brightens the vertical strakes with aluminized highlights, or alternatively with available glossy black and dark grey trim. Moving up to the S line also enhances the lower front fascia with unique floating satin-silver detailing within deeper cut corner vents, and then pulls the brightwork inward with a horizontal metallic strip. There’s much more to the S line exterior package than that, making it a good choice for those who want their Q3 to stand out in the subcompact luxury SUV crowd. 

Depending on trim, the Q3’s narrow headlamps can be fitted with one of three lighting sources, topped off with Matrix LED technology and adaptive high beams. 

We’ll know more about all of these details when the 2019 Audi Q3 goes on sale next year, but until then enjoy our photo gallery above and video below. 

 

Audi 2019 Q3 Defined: Design (3:04):

The more popular SUVs continue to become, the more likely we’ll be seeing ever varying adaptations on their sport and utility themes. Some automakers will break from the status quo by providing ultimately…

2018 Audi SQ5 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik Road Test

2018 Audi SQ5 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
The SQ5 adds more muscle to the ultra-popular Audi Q5 compact luxury SUV, in both style and performance. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

The more popular SUVs continue to become, the more likely we’ll be seeing ever varying adaptations on their sport and utility themes. Some automakers will break from the status quo by providing ultimately capable off-roaders that take to the hills like their forebears could never have dreamed, while others will come equipped with new levels of roadworthiness, as adept at managing the track as their upright, five-door body styles are capable of swallowing up family and cargo. The Audi SQ5 fits into the latter mould. 

The word mould might not be the ideal descriptor, mind you, being that very few SUVs even come close to measuring up to the wonderfully quick and superbly agile SQ5. In fact, maybe a handful within the compact luxury segment could be called competitors at all, these including the 355 horsepower BMW X3 M40i, the 360 horsepower Porsche Macan GTS, the 362 horsepower Mercedes-AMG GLC 43, the 380 horsepower Jaguar F-Pace S, the Jag’s familial Range Rover Velar with its version of the same 380 horsepower supercharged 3.0-litre V6, and the 400 horsepower Macan Turbo, while the 440 horsepower Performance Package version of the same Porsche Macan Turbo, the 503 horsepower AMG GLC 63 S version of the Mercedes SUV, and the 550 horsepower SVR version of the aforementioned Jaguar are in another class altogether. 

2018 Audi SQ5 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
Attractive from front to back, the SQ5 provides a really unique diffuser-style rear bumper cap. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

A humbling assortment of super-SUVs? Considering the SQ5’s 354 horsepower is the lowest output in this rarified group, one might think so. Still, it comes down to performance at a price, and the $61,300 SQ5’s sizeable 369 lb-ft of torque allows it to sprint to 100km/h in just 5.3 seconds and on to a speed limited 250 km/h that neither of us will likely ever experience. 

2018 Audi SQ5 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
Full LED headlamps with automatic high beams come standard with the SQ5. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

It’ll cost you just $200 more to slice 0.5 seconds off that zero to 100km/h time with the just noted X3 M40i that makes an identical torque figure, while strangely the $1,200 pricier GLC 43’s more robust 384 lb-ft of torque only results in 4.9 seconds to 100km/h, but it’s still quicker than the SQ5. Despite a much loftier price of $76,000 the Macan GTS is probably the closest performance match to the SQ5 at 5.2 seconds to 100km/h, but the same model in even pricier $87,200 Turbo trim chops the sprint time to 4.8 seconds, whereas the $69,900 V6-powered F-Pace is left slightly behind at 5.5 seconds to 100km/h, and the identically powered and priced Velar is good for 5.7 seconds. All prices can be found at CarCostCanada, by the way, plus rebate info and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands. 

2018 Audi SQ5 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
The SQ5’s grille and corner vents are filled with bolder horizontal slats, while the latter extend deeper within a more aggressive lower front fascia. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

A noteworthy alternative is the new Alfa Romeo Stelvio that manages a cracking 5.4-second sprint to 100km/h and 232 km/h top speed despite only offering 280 horsepower and 306 lb-ft of torque from its 2.0-litre turbocharged four, while the new $95,000 Stelvio Quadrifoglio will soon be tied with the AMG GLC 63 for fastest in the class due to a zero to 100km/h run of just 3.8 seconds and top speed of 285 km/h, its twin-turbo 2.9-litre V6 making a significant 505 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque. Considering the Stelvio comes from the global automaker responsible for the 707-horsepower Jeep Cherokee SRT Hellcat, why should we expect anything less? 

2018 Audi SQ5 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
These 21-inch V-design alloys on 255/40 performance tires are a $1,000 option. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

As for those other super beasts, the $99,000 upgraded Macan Turbo does the deed in 4.4 seconds, Jag’s hyper-fast $89,900 SVR is rated at 4.3 seconds, and Merc’s outrageous $90,500 GLC 63 is, as already noted, now tied for the segment’s quickest SUV at just 3.8 seconds to 100km/h. 

As it’s easy to see, the more you pay the more you get, for the most part, yet the SQ5 delivers a potent dose of straight-line performance for what is currently this compact super-SUV segment’s lowest price point. What’s more, if you were to build out each of these competitors you’d quickly learn that Audi’s value proposition grows commensurately as its rivals’ directly comparative pricing expands exponentially. 

2018 Audi SQ5 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
Technik trim includes a number of advanced safety features including Audi side assist blindspot warning. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Being that purchasing any one of the aforementioned SUVs is hardly a needs driven choice, the decision will come down to other factors as well, such as how all that performance translates into real-world driving capability, both when pushing the limits and when cruising down the highway or running around town, plus the usual personal taste issues like styling, interior design and execution, features, and general livability. 

2018 Audi SQ5 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
A powered panoramic glass sunroof between aluminized roof rails comes standard with both SQ5 trims. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Something could be said for heritage, with the four-ringed brand’s history dating back to the early 20th century, although these were complex beginnings that involved the merger of four brands to form one conglomerate in 1932, Auto Union AG being the latter and Audi, DKW, Horch, plus Wanderer making up the former four. In the end, Audi was the only name to survive after Volkswagen group acquired Auto Union from Daimler-Benz in the 1960s, and after some initial hiccups it has transformed into one of the most formidable players in the premium automotive sector. 

As for the SQ5, it has also shown endurance as the compact luxury SUV segment’s longest running performance model. It arrived in 2013 as a 2014 model, and has therefore been with us for six-plus years. The Macan hit the road the following year, while the M40i version of the X3, and the rest of these compact SUV power players, are relative newcomers. 

2018 Audi SQ5 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
These LED taillights include dynamic indicators that sequentially flash in the direction you’re turning. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Something else the SQ5 has in its corner is a Q5 donor model that’s the segment’s number one seller, showing that in this class more luxury buyers prefer Audi when it comes to drivability and the multiple parameters previously mentioned, including styling, interior design and execution, features, and overall functionality. 

2018 Audi SQ5 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
If you don’t immediately recognize the red and chrome SQ5 badge on the liftgate, these unique tailpipes and the diffuser-like opening between them will let you know this Audi SUV is special. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Similar to the Q5, the SQ5 is an easy and enjoyable SUV to drive around town, wonderfully comfortable over smoothly paved roads and irregular patches of asphalt alike, albeit more stiffly sprung than its less sporting stable mate. This makes it superbly stable on the open highway, and especially so when the road narrows and starts to wind, where its sport sedan-like handling is much more capable than those on the more docile side of this category. Adding to its comfort quotient, well-designed sport seats support five occupants front to back, ample roominess surrounds, and driver ergonomics are especially good. 

As for styling, the Q5 is entirely new for 2018 so its design remains totally fresh, albeit heavily influenced by the smaller subcompact Q3 and larger mid-size Q7, not to mention other Audi models. This, of course, is a good thing, being that most find the brand’s lineup very attractive. 

2018 Audi SQ5 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
You’re going to love the SQ5’s impressive interior. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

The SQ5 differentiates itself from the Q5 via new standard LED headlamps, bolder front grille strakes, the same horizontal aluminized slats on the front corner vents, which protrude lower and incorporate some nice new details as part of a revised front valance, some unique satin-silver trim up front, on the mirror caps and at back, modified side skirts spanning a sporty set of twinned five-spoke 20-inch alloys shod in 255/45 performance rubber, a longer rooftop spoiler, and a revised rear bumper cap incorporating visually extended side skirts at each corner and a new set of ovoid tailpipes at each end of what appears to be a completely open diffuser. Red and silver SQ5 badging finishes off the look, which is a nice visual step up from the regular Q5 overall, albeit not dramatically different. 

2018 Audi SQ5 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
Audi provides an ideally ergonomic driving environment, that’s as feature filled and luxuriously appointed as anything in its class. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Back to the mechanicals under the SQ5’s svelte new sheetmetal, the 3.0-litre V6 engine’s aforementioned torque rating is 22 lb-ft greater than it was from 2014 through 2017, thanks to a new turbocharger that replaces the previous supercharger. All that extra twist is now available lower down the rev range too, arriving at only 1,370 rpm, which gives the updated 2018 SQ5 a noticeable improvement in response off the line. 

2018 Audi SQ5 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
The 12.3-inch Audi Virtual Cockpit can be configured in multiple ways. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

In fact, the SQ5 accelerates at a blisteringly quick rate accompanied by a wonderfully sonorous exhaust note that blips with each gear change for an adrenaline inducing auditory track, enhanced further when Audi drive select is set to Dynamic sport mode. The eight-speed automatic provides fairly quick paddle-prompted shifts, but it doesn’t flick through the gears with the type of precise action as Audi’s S-tronic dual-clutch gearbox. Still, each increment is smooth, which is a more suitable attribute for an SUV than anything too abrupt. 

I should mention the revised engine is 14 kilos (30.8 lbs) lighter too, which when combined with the new SQ5’s reduced weight helps to lessen curb weight by 35 kilograms (77.1 lbs) overall. 

2018 Audi SQ5 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
Press the “VIEW” button on the steering wheel to reduce the primary dials and expand the MID. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Along with the obvious benefits to performance, the new SQ5’s trimmed girth aids fuel economy, with a 2018 rating of 12.7 L/100km in the city, 10.0 on the highway and 11.5 combined, compared to 14.1 city, 9.9 highway and 12.2 combined for the outgoing 2017 model. That’s a massive improvement considering both utilize similar eight-speed automatic transmissions with auto start/stop, and standard Quattro AWD. 

2018 Audi SQ5 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
The SQ5’s centre stack controls are attractively designed, well laid out and within easy reach. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Features in mind, last year the SQ5 came in a top-tier Dynamic Edition with 21-inch alloys, performance tires and loads of premium kit that was otherwise optional, but this upgrade was discontinued for 2018 in place of the usual mid-range Progressiv and top-line Technik trim lines, plus a similar assortment of packages and standalone options. 

On that note the SQ5 Progressiv comes well equipped with the aforementioned full LED headlamps featuring automatic high beams, LED taillights with dynamic indicators, anodized metal-finish roof rails, proximity-sensing keyless access that includes a hands-free power tailgate, pushbutton ignition, an electromechanical parking brake, plus Audi drive select with Auto, Comfort, Offroad, Dynamic sport and Individual modes. 

2018 Audi SQ5 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
Technik trims combines a regular backup camera with this fabulous overhead Bird’s Eye view. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Interior trim includes brushed aluminum inlays, while a special S-branded leather-wrapped multifunction heatable sport steering wheel with shift paddles, and heavily bolstered sport seats with gorgeous diamond stitched S-embossed Nappa leather upholstery continue the SQ5’s bespoke look and feel. 

2018 Audi SQ5 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
Unlike some in this class, the main display has touchscreen features like tap, swipe and pinch. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Additional standard features include rain-sensing wipers, power-folding and auto-dimming side mirrors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a HomeLink garage door opener, heatable powered front seats with four-way powered lumbar and driver’s memory, tri-zone automatic climate control, an 8.3-inch MMI infotainment display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, the MMI touch control system on the lower console that includes a touchpad, rotating dial and quick-access button combination, Bluetooth phone connectivity with audio streaming, accurate navigation with detailed mapping, front and rear parking sensors, Audi’s music interface with USB connectivity, satellite radio, a powered panoramic sunroof featuring an opaque sunshade that still allows a bit of light through when closed, Audi pre sense basic that automatically closes all windows and the sunroof if sensing a potential accident, the usual allotment of active and passive safety features, plus more. 

2018 Audi SQ5 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
The MMI touch control system on the lower console includes a touchpad, rotating dial and quick-access button combination. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

My $65,900 Technik trimmed tester replaced the base model’s 7.0-inch colour multi-information display (MID) with the 12.3-inch Audi Virtual Cockpit, a fully digital instrument cluster that’s easily one of the industry’s best thanks to its ability to shrink down the primary gauges while simultaneously expanding the MID’s functions, the navigation mapping especially impressive when this “VIEW” mode is applied. Likewise, Technik trim improves on the base model’s backup camera with dynamic guidelines by adding a Bird’s Eye overhead 360-degre surround view, while this top-line model also replaces the base 10-speaker stereo with a fabulous sounding Bang & Olufsen 3D surround system, plus it adds custom colours to the standard ambient interior lighting, heated/cooled front cupholders, and heatable rear outboard seats. 

2018 Audi SQ5 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
Even the shifter is a thing of beauty, incorporating leather, metals, and high-quality composites. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Technik trim also includes a number of advanced safety features like Audi pre sense rear that does everything pre sense basic does with a focus on potential rear collisions; the Audi side assist blindspot warning system; rear cross-traffic alert that warns of drive-by traffic when reversing out of a perpendicular parking spot or driveway; a new exit warning system that lets you know if a vehicle is approaching from behind when you’re parallel parked and opening your door to get out; plus Audi Connect Assistance and Security, which is a suite of entertainment and security-based services designed to enhance convenience, enjoyment and safety. 

2018 Audi SQ5 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
Look at these gorgeous diamond-stitched Nappa leather seats! They’re even better to sit in. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

By the way, all of the aforementioned safety systems and the surround camera are available in lesser Progressiv trim when opting for the $1,500 Driver Assistance package, while both trims offer a $1,100 Comfort Interior package with softer Milano leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, and rear side window sunshades. My tester didn’t include the latter, but its interior looked fabulous thanks to $900 worth of glossy Carbon Atlas inlays across the dash and door panels. 

Technik models go a step further by offering a $2,100 Advanced Driver Assistance package that includes adaptive cruise control with Stop and Go, Audi pre sense front autonomous emergency braking, Audi pre sense city, traffic sign recognition, Audi active lane assist, and traffic congestion assist. 

2018 Audi SQ5 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
The standard panoramic sunroof provides plenty of overhead light plus fresh air if powered rearward. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Also available, a $1,100 head-up display projects key information onto the windscreen ahead of the driver, while rear passengers can benefit from the added safety of side-impact airbags. 

Audi swapped out the regular 20-inch alloy wheels that come standard with both trims for set of $1,000 21-inch V-design alloys on 255/40 performance tires, which helped to dress up the exterior even further than the standard SQ5 while enhancing handling a little bit more. 

2018 Audi SQ5 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
The rear seating area is roomy, comfortable and plenty luxurious. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

While great to look at, fabulous to drive and as beautifully finished inside as anything this class has to offer, the SQ5 remains as utile as the regular Q5. From its spacious and comfortable passenger compartment to a roomier than average 759-litre (26.8 cubic-foot) cargo capacity, which expands up to 1,710 litres (60.4 cu ft) by pulling on levers attached to each sidewall, the SQ5 doesn’t shortchange on space or fine attention to detail, like high-quality carpeting, webbed pockets, chromed tie-down rings, and a stunning brushed metal protector plate in the back. Even better, those rear seatbacks automatically drop either 60 or 40 percent, but take note that the left 60 is actually divided 40/20, which lets you unlock the centre portion to lay longer items like skis down the middle while rear passengers enjoy the more comfortable outboard window seats that, as noted, were heated on my tester as well. The 60/40 portions slide fore and aft plus recline too, so you won’t be hearing complaints about comfort from those in back. 

2018 Audi SQ5 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
Ultra-fast, yet the SQ5 is just as accommodating for passengers and cargo as the regular Q5. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Truly, I can’t imagine anyone complaining about life with an SQ5, other than your significant other moaning expletives if they don’t get enough time behind the wheel. The truth is, as comfortable as the SQ5 is for passengers, you’ll want to be in the driver’s seat more often than not. That’s certainly how I felt. 

There may be faster performance SUVs on the market, but the new SQ5 might just be most well rounded option available, delivering bucket loads of speedy acceleration, a sonorous soundtrack of burbling exhaust notes, a superb handling and ride compromise, a gorgeous, comfortable and fully functional interior, plus enough features to even keep techies enthused well into the ownership cycle. I wholeheartedly recommend it.

Consider the history of Audi here in North America. The four-ringed brand from Ingolstadt, Germany toiled in the shadows during its nascent years in the North American markets, with solid but relatively…

2019 Audi e-tron E55 Quattro Preview

2019 Audi e-tron E55 Quattro
Audi will soon hit the market with an all-electric plug-in EV dubbed e-tron, and it promises to hit Tesla right where it hurts. (Photo: Audi)

Consider the history of Audi here in North America. The four-ringed brand from Ingolstadt, Germany toiled in the shadows during its nascent years in the North American markets, with solid but relatively unknown models like the Audi 100 LS, Fox, and 5000. It was the 5000, totally redesigned in its third generation as an aerodynamic sedan that really began a sales trend for Audi. The 5000 was large, safe and technologically advanced. After all, the motto for the company for quite some time has been Vorsprung durch Technik (Progress through Technology), and the 5000 was technologically ahead of its time. 

And then a bad thing happened.

2019 Audi e-tron E55 Quattro
Stylish from all angles, the new e-tron builds on Audi’s current angular design language with a few unique elements of its own. (Photo: Audi)

The long running CBS program 60 Minutes aired a report that Audi 5000 cars were accelerating on their own, and started an “Unintended Acceleration” scare that almost sank the company. Audi was ultimately cleared during this unfortunate hysteria, but the damage had been done, sales tanked, and Audi’s ship slowly began to sink. 

Thankfully, the bright minds at Audi retooled the brand and came out with the A4, A6, luxury A8 and performance S Car variants, and the sales numbers started to climb again. 

For over 40 years, Audi has also enjoyed special success on many race circuits around the world, with the legendary quattro all-wheel drive system proving its mettle in Rally Racing, Hill Climb events like Pikes Peak, and endurance events like the 24 Hours of Le Mans. 

2019 Audi e-tron E55 Quattro
The “e-tron” logos at the side “engine vent” position light up when underway, while those side mirrors are actually rearview cameras. (Photo: Audi)

At Le Mans, Audi regularly enjoyed trips to victory lane with the gasoline powered R8, V8 twin turbo and R10 turbodiesel twelve cylinder supercars. The R10 produced 590 hp and 774 lb-ft of torque and was legendary; winning every race at Le Mans it was entered in. And then along came Peugeot, winning in 2009 with their 908 HDi twelve cylinder turbo-diesel endurance racers that had more power and torque than Audi’s offerings 730hp/890 lb-ft torque). But Audi would have no part of this short lived dominance by Peugeot, responding with the V10 powered R15, and the winning ways continued, placing first, second and third in 2010 in the vaunted LMP1 group. I was there that year as a guest of Audi, and it was a special experience for me personally and for the company worldwide. Audi’s endurance race efforts eventually used V6 “e-tron” hybrid power, and the renamed R18 continued to dominate in endurance racing. Smartly, Audi’s technology on the racetrack was used to develop stout powerplants, particularly diesels, and other hi-tech for consumer Audis. 

2019 Audi e-tron E55 Quattro
A different viewpoint of the side badging and rearview camera system. (Photo: Audi)

Audi’s success with the diesels spread like wildfire, with domestic sales of turbodiesel cars booming with Audi’s parent Volkswagen Group. Yes, VW, Audi and Porsche all shared in the success of the extremely fun to drive and super efficient TDI powerplants. 

And then the bottom fell out for Audi again, and for the VW Group as a whole, as the Group was accused of and admitted to goosing software to make their TDI cars and SUVs appear to be cleaner in Environmental Protection Agency Clean Air Act testing.  After paying record fines and buying back many beloved TDI vehicles from owners, like the Audi Q7 TDI, the VW Group abandoned the diesel business here in the North America. Before the scandal, diesels represented 25 percent of all VW sales in the U.S. and an even greater number in Canada, plus a significant percentage of Audi sales. 

2019 Audi e-tron E55 Quattro
The new 2019 Audi e-tron E55 Quattro motors onto the stage during the San Francisco e-tron launch event. (Photo: Brian Armstead, Canadian Auto Press)

Whether the Group eventually returns to TDI power in the future remains to be seen, but one thing is sure, Audi won’t be part of the equation. Why? Because the marque has chosen to stake its future on an entirely electrified lineup of cars and SUVs.  By 2025, every Audi will have some form of electrification. 

Ambitious? Certainly. But other luxury manufacturers like Volvo have made similar proclamations. 

At its shareholders meeting earlier this year, Audi’s future strategy was laid out, as the brand plans to sell 800,000 electrified cars in 2025 between 20 different electric models. Audi says that most will be fully electric, with the remainder being plug-in hybrids. 

2019 Audi e-tron E55 Quattro
The e-tron’s interior doesn’t make any radical deviations from any of today’s production Audis, other than the sideview camera system. (Photo: Audi)

According to an official statement by Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management for Audi AG, “Our ambition has always been and will continue to be Vorsprung durch Technik. Our goal is to revolutionize mobility. Also in electric mobility, we want to become the Number 1 among the premium manufacturers – with full suitability for everyday use, no compromises, top quality and driving pleasure for the customer. With our technological excellence, we are utilizing our Vorsprung and lifting electric mobility to the next level.” 

Smart? I certainly think so, as Audi can carve out a large chunk of the luxury electric car business, and produce cars and SUVs in a way that electric car innovator Tesla simply can’t. 

2019 Audi e-tron E55 Quattro
No one should be disappointed with the e-tron’s interior design or execution. (Photo: Audi)

Recently, more than 2,500 Audi dealers and customers and a throng of auto writers from traditional and social media platforms joined Audi in San Francisco for the spectacular e-tron World Debut. 

With the glamour and glitz of a Hollywood production, e-tron rolled into a packed warehouse on San Francisco Bay and “charged” the audience with the same type of hype and emotion of Mayweather/McGregor at the MGM in Vegas. One could say the match was Electric v. Gasoline, and it was quite a show. When the epic event was over and we got a chance to see e-tron up close, Audi’s motto rose from whatever ashes the diesel debacle left behind, as Vorsprung durch Technik is reborn with e-tron.

2019 Audi e-tron E55 Quattro
The front compartment looks roomy and the seats appear comfortable. (Photo: Audi)

So what is e-tron? It’s a sport-ute styled like the Q5 and Q7 that will probably feature the brand’s usual trio of Komfort, Progressiv and Technik trim levels when details become known. In the U.S., where trims and pricing were announced as part of the San Francisco event, it comes in base Premium Plus trim starting at $74,800 USD, Prestige trim at $81,800 USD, and as the limited (999 units) “Edition One” starting at $86,700 USD. Premium Plus includes a 9.6kW AC home charger, Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system, Audi “phone box” wireless charger and signal booster, heated and ventilated leather seats, panoramic sunroof and integrated toll module. 

Prestige includes all Premium Plus gear plus a head-up display, driver assistance package, adaptive cruise control, active lane assist, intersection assistant, Audi pre sense 360, traffic sign recognition, power soft close doors, rear window sunshades, dual pane acoustic windows, contour seats with massage, Valcona leather and an air quality package with an ionizer. 

2019 Audi e-tron E55 Quattro
Audi is already putting a comprehensive charging infrastructure into place to support its e-tron customers. (Photo: Audi)

While all trim levels are well contented, Edition One differentiates itself from other trims mostly through unique body and interior trim, and special paint and wheels. 

One super high tech feature Audi hopes will be standard equipment on the e-tron 55 quattro is side cameras to replace traditional sideview mirrors. At a display I visited prior to the world debut called Audi Tech Park, all of e-tron’s super cool hardware was on exhibit, including the impressive high-definition sideview cameras. Audi is awaiting U.S. Government safety approval of this exciting new feature, and we assume they’re focusing similar lobbying on the Canadian government. 

The e-tron 55 quattro will join the A3 Sportback e-tron hybrid (on sale now) in Audi’s whirlwind march toward the model total expected in 2025. 

2019 Audi e-tron E55 Quattro
The e-tron can be plugged into the majority of charging systems. (Photo: Audi)

The e-tron 55 features seating for five adults, quattro electric all-wheel drive (one motor at each wheel), air suspension, and a towing capacity of 1,800 kg (4,000 pounds). 

The two electric motors accelerate the e-tron from 0-100 km/h in 5.7 seconds and reach a top speed of 200 km/h (124 mph). 

The Audi e-tron uses an innovative recuperation system encompassing both electric motors, to boost efficiency. With its estimated range of more than 400 km (250 miles), expect as much as 30 percent of the e-tron’s range to come from recovered energy, depending on the conditions, terrain and driving style. The e-tron can recover energy in two ways: by means of coasting recuperation when the driver releases the accelerator, or by means of braking recuperation by depressing the brake pedal. 

2019 Audi e-tron E55 Quattro
The e-tron’s battery design is ultra-complex. (Photo: Brian Armstead, Canadian Auto Press)

The battery system in the Audi e-tron is located beneath the cabin and comprises a total of 36 cell modules in square aluminum housings, each of which is roughly the size of a shoebox. 

A cooling system of flat aluminum extruded sections divided uniformly into small chambers has the task of maintaining the battery’s high-performance operation over the long term. Heat is exchanged between the cells and the cooling system beneath them via a thermally conductive gel pressed beneath each cell module. A special cooling lance provides additional heat reduction to power motors. 

A strong surround frame and lattice-type aluminum structure that holds the cell modules is designed to protect the battery block. A substantial aluminum plate provides protection against damage from flying stones or curbs. These measures demonstrate how Audi’s engineers have developed the battery and cooling systems with safety in mind. 

2019 Audi e-tron E55 Quattro
e-tron recharging partially takes place while you drive. (Photo: Audi)

For customers’ residential charging needs, a standard 9.6 kW AC capsule charger (Level 2, 240-volt/40 amps) is provided and designed to deliver a full charge overnight.

Audi e-tron buyers will also have the opportunity to experience the first-ever home charging collaboration between online retail giant Amazon and an automaker. “Audi Home Charging powered by Amazon Home Services” will offer e-tron buyers a fully-digital experience for in-home electric vehicle charging installations, designed to make the process of home charging set up as easy as ordering home charging with installation from Amazon. 

E-tron buyers can also define their own personal priorities, such as charging when electricity is less expensive where available. With the myAudi app, owners can plan, control, and monitor e-tron charging and pre-heating/cooling. Owners can set a departure time, for example, so that the Audi e-tron is charged and/or heated/cooled at the desired time. They can even choose to heat or cool certain zones in the car. On cold winter days, for example, owners can turn on optional seat heating. The app also displays charging and driving data. 

2019 Audi e-tron E55 Quattro
Audi has staked its claim in the FIA-sanctioned Formula E series. (Photo: Audi)

For charging on the go in the U.S., the e-tron will be supported by a nationwide charging network, “Powered by Electrify America.” By July 2019, this network will include nearly 500 fast-charging sites complete or under development throughout 40 states and 17 metro areas. Offering advanced charging, Electrify America’s chargers are capable of delivering up to 350kW. With the purchase of the e-tron, customers will receive 1,000 kWh of charging at Electrify America sites over four years of ownership. According to reports nothing similar has been finalized for Canadian customers, but sources within Audi Canada believe a similar deal may be offered. 

Take years of German engineering and production know how, and Audi’s capacity to produce e-tron on a large scale looks better than Tesla’s struggling efforts to meet consumer demand long before the first e-tron hits the street in Q2 of 2019. 

2019 Audi e-tron E55 Quattro
Tesla had better get ready, because Audi is on the move. (Photo: Brian Armstead, Canadian Auto Press)

Additionally, Audi left internal combustion engine powered endurance racing, and now competes and wins in the all-electric “Formula E” racing series with the e-tron FE04. Successes with technology in Formula E will certainly trickle down to Audi consumer electric vehicles, in the same way Le Mans successes helped spur their once strong diesel sales. 

The 2019 Audi e-tron 55 quattro seems to have covered all of the bases that make it a safe, well equipped option for luxury electric car buyers. Watch out Tesla. The competition now is real. 

Ready to get yours? Visit audi.ca and place a $1,000 fully refundable deposit. 

And while you’re waiting for your car to arrive, check out these great e-tron e55 quattro videos provided by Audi:

 

Electrified: the world premiere of the Audi e-tron (3:13):  

 

May we present: the all-new Audi e-tron (4:00):  

 

A new era of electric mobility: the first fully electric Audi e-tron (2:10):  

 

Audi e-tron: Electric has gone quattro (0:15):  

Where is the world’s best mid-size luxury SUV made? Audi can make a good argument for Bratislava, Slovakia, where its recently redesigned Q7 SUV flagship has been assembled since inception in November…

2018 Audi Q7 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik Road Test

2018 Audi Q7 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
No S Line Sport package this year, but we think this top-line Technik-trimmed 2018 Q7 3.0 TFSI Quattro looks great just the same. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Where is the world’s best mid-size luxury SUV made? Audi can make a good argument for Bratislava, Slovakia, where its recently redesigned Q7 SUV flagship has been assembled since inception in November of 2005, when the 2006 first-generation model arrived on the scene and almost immediately became the darling of the seven-passenger luxury crossover SUV market. 

Astute readers will correct me by stating the Q7 is also produced in Kaluga, Russia and Aurangabad, India, but the one we get hails from the quaint Slovakian capital that flanks the Danube River, its fertile banks surrounded in vineyards, the entire area nestled within the Little Carpathian mountains, a picturesque part of Europe that rivals its Austrian and Hungarian neighbours for good beer and good times. 

2018 Audi Q7 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
The more angular new Q7 looks fresh and modern from front to back. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

This said the only Audi vehicles I’ve ever driven through Europe were on Austrian and German roads, and never once in a Q7. My four-ringed adventure began in the Alps near Salzburg aboard a bevy of TT Coupes, followed up by the premium brand’s A8L flagship sedan powered by a ridiculously potent turbo-diesel V8 on the autobahn between the Red Bull capital (and of course childhood home to Mozart—I walked past Hagenauerhaus on my way to dinner while visiting on a separate occasion with Maserati) and Audi HQ in Ingolstadt in Ingolstadt. How I would love to drive this new Q7 over the same routes, or for that matter any of the other circuitous European roadways I’ve grown to appreciate from many visits across the Atlantic since youth (back then we had a VW 411 “Squareback”, not exactly in the same league). 

2018 Audi Q7 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
This sharp new take on Audi’s “Singleframe” grille has spread across the brand’s entire SUV lineup. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The first-generation Q7 aged gracefully, having managed to maintain its popularity despite few updates during its decade-long run, which is a nod to the original SUV’s good inherent design both aesthetically and mechanically. This second-generation version, which arrived in 2016 for the 2017 model year, rides on a new lighter weight chassis architecture that’s allowed for a significant 300-kilo (660-lb) reduction in mass, while this in turn has resulted in the first-ever application of a fuel-efficient turbocharged four-cylinder in the large albeit still mid-size three-row SUV. 

I drove and reported on the 2.0 TFSI equipped Q7 last year and not only found it wholly adequate, but in fact its 252 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque felt downright spirited thanks in part to the standard eight-speed automatic and efficient Quattro all-wheel drive system it comes mated to, but for those that make their German engineering choice with an eye on performance first and foremost, I recommend the V6. 

2018 Audi Q7 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
Technik trim gets standard full LED headlamps, that add nighttime brightness as well as daytime sophistication. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The 2018 Audi Q7 3.0 TFSI Quattro shown on this page felt much the same as a V6-powered model I also tested and reviewed last year, although this variation on the theme didn’t include an upgrade to the $1,800 S Line Sport package, which is really more about cosmetics than performance anyway, due to no sport suspension improvements and identically sized albeit uniquely designed 20-inch alloys on 285/45 all-season tires, restyled front and rear bumpers, an enlarged rear rooftop spoiler, S line fender badges and door sill embellishment on the metal treadplates, and a black headliner inside. 

2018 Audi Q7 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
The Technik’s standard 10-spoke 20-inch alloys combine elegance with ample sportiness. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

With its visual focus more about luxury than sport, my Q7 loaner still looked suitably planted with its 20-inch 10-spoke Star design alloys, while its two-slat corner vents are hardly less aggressive than the trio of glossy black slats and deeper brake vents provided in S Line trim. 

As you might expect, the 2018 Q7 is mostly carryover from last year, this only being the second-gen model’s second year of availability, so therefore the only change this year is the addition of standard Audi side assist blindspot warning and Audi pre-sense rear advanced driver assistance systems to mid-range Progressiv trim, the latter feature using a rear-facing camera to detect and warn of potential rear-end collisions, at which point it mitigates possible injuries by automatically adjusting the seats, tightening the seatbelts, plus closing the windows and sunroof. Additionally, as-tested top-line Technik trim now gets the Audi Connect smartphone interface, concierge service, and security features as standard equipment. 

2018 Audi Q7 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
Of course the taillights are LEDs, and these look even better when lit up at night. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

While we’re talking trims, according to CarCostCanada.com that has full pricing by trim level, the dealer’s invoice pricing (wouldn’t it be helpful to know that?), and info on available rebates, the Q7 is once again available in three grades including $61,900 Komfort, $67,650 Progressiv and $74,750 Technik. Quattro AWD is standard, while the aforementioned 2.0-litre turbo-four is standard in Komfort and Progressiv trims, while not available with Technik. The 3.0-litre supercharged V6 is a $4,000 option in either base or mid-range trim, with the result of this choice being 333 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque for considerably stronger straight-line performance, its zero to 100km/h sprint time improved by 1.7 seconds from 7.4 to 5.7 seconds, plus almost no downside in fuel economy as per Transport Canada’s official claimed rating of 12.6 L/100km city, 9.4 highway and 11.1 combined for the V6 and 12.2, 9.5 and 11.0 respectively for the I-4. 

2018 Audi Q7 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
The Q7 opens up to one of the best interiors in the mid-size SUV sector. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Yes, I know this seems strange, so I found my second witness in the U.S. EPA that shows identical ratings of 19 mpg city, 25 highway and 21 combined no matter the engine tested, which in case you were wondering come very close to our government’s estimates at 12.4 L/100km city, 9.4 highway and 11.2 combined when converted to metric. So there you have it, the 2.0 TFSI is more about reducing the Q7’s initial price than ongoing costs. 

Additionally, with the optional tow package added to both four- and six-cylinder powered Q7s, the latter increases its trailering capacity by more than 1,500 kilos (3,300 lbs) over the former, from 1,995 kilograms (4,400 lbs) to a surprisingly capable 3,500 kg (7,700 lbs). 

2018 Audi Q7 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
Everything is well made, smartly organized and within reach. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

No matter which engine you choose, Komfort trim includes standard self-leveling Xenon plus headlights with washers, LED daytime running lights, LED taillights, 19-inch alloy wheels, heated power-folding side mirrors, stainless steel door sills, pushbutton ignition, a heatable leather-wrapped steering wheel, paddle shifters, an electromechanical parking brake, rain-sensing wipers, Audi Drive Select performance modes, a HomeLink garage door opener, a cooled glove box, heatable eight-way powered front seats with four-way powered driver’s lumbar support, driver-side memory for the seat and side mirrors, leather upholstery, genuine oak hardwood, piano black lacquer and real aluminum interior trim, tri-zone automatic climate control, a large infotainment display that powers up from within the dash top, HD and satellite radio, a powered panoramic glass sunroof with an electric sunshade, a powered liftgate, a retractable cargo cover, 50/50-split power-folding third-row seatbacks, front and rear parking sensors, engine stop-start, regenerative braking, and Audi’s pre-sense basic driver assistance system that detects when an emergency manoeuvre is being made and then initiates all of the crash preventative measures noted earlier about pre-sense rear. 

2018 Audi Q7 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
The Audi Virtual Cockpit lets you go from a fairly normal looking gauge cluster… (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

My Technik tester included all of the above, plus everything from mid-range Progressiv trim such as its proximity-sensing keyless access, auto-dimming centre and side mirrors, blindspot warning, power-adjustable steering column, Audi Virtual Cockpit fully digital 12.3-inch TFT gauge cluster, 360-degree Topview surround parking camera, aforementioned smartphone integration, navigation, additional rear zone for the climate control system, four-way powered front passenger lumbar, ventilated front seats, heatable rear outboard seats, stainless steel trunk sill protection, virtual pedal proximity-sensing trunk release, and more. 

2018 Audi Q7 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
….to a all the graphic info you could ever need, by the simple touch of a steering wheel-mounted “VIEW” button. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Lastly, exclusive Technik features include full LED headlamps for much brighter nighttime drives, a larger set of 20-inch alloys on 285/45 all-season run-flats for better grip, a sensational sounding 3D Surround Sound Bose audio system with 19 speakers and 558 watts of power, Audi connect assistance and security services, and more. 

Of course, some of the features that come standard with Technik trim can be had in option packages and as standalone upgrades within each trim level, while my tester was also enhanced further with a $150 set of second-row side window sunshades, which are ideal if you have sun-sensitive passengers in back. I’d find it difficult to believe many Q7s are ordered without the $900 Driver Assistance Package too, which includes auto high beam assist, a camera and distance sensor, Audi active lane assist, and traffic sign recognition. 

2018 Audi Q7 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
This 8.3-inch display powers up from within the dash top, and provides crystal clear clarity and excellent depth of colour. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

If this were to become my personal ride I’d be even more tempted to add the $3,400 Driver Assistance Plus package due to its adaptive cruise control with stop and go alone, while this suite of advanced safety features includes a head-up display projecting key info onto the windscreen ahead of the driver, Audi pre sense plus, Audi pre sense city front collision warning with autonomous braking, and traffic jam assist, a semi-autonomous steering feature that does the driving for you while stuck on well-paved congested roadways at speeds from 0 to 65 km/h. 

2018 Audi Q7 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
Both standard three-zone and as-tested four-zone auto climate control systems can be easily adjusted from this attractive interface. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

My tester’s standard Diamond finish upper inlay with Silver Grey and Oak Grey lower inlays, can be replaced by three $500 alternatives that all include Brushed Aluminum for the upper inlay with either Oak Grey, Beaufort Walnut, or Walnut and Terra Brown for the lower inlay, while the already excellent Bose audio system can be traded in for an even more impressive $5,100 Bang & Olufsen system with tweeters that power up out of the dash and many other advanced audio technologies. 

Additionally, a $2,500 Night vision assistant uses a thermal imaging camera to scan 15 to 90 metres ahead for pedestrians and large animal heat signatures and then projects them onto the multi-information display in the gauge cluster, while other options include massaging front seats, a dual screen rear seat entertainment system, rear side-impact airbags, a bevy of wheels and tires and more, plus dealer installed accessories galore. 

2018 Audi Q7 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
Thanks to electronic transmissions, gear “levers” have changed in recent years, which is why we like Audi’s mostly normal one a lot. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Naming off options and standard equipment might help put the Q7’s value proposition into a better light, but it hardly relates the experience of actually spending time inside. It remains one of the best interiors in its class thanks to Audi’s pleasing horizontal design mixed with fine attention to detail. The quality of workmanship and materials chosen are difficult to match in this class, and the overall layout, ease of use, and general comfort comes close to perfection. 

2018 Audi Q7 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
The Q7 gets a rotating knob, touchpad and surrounding buttons for controlling its infotainment system. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The Q7 may excel even further above most peers in driving dynamics, by somehow balancing a gentle ride with superb handling. I’m always amazed at how small the Q7 feels when at the wheel, as if it’s outwardly sized a category down from its true three-row mid-size dimensions, but numbers don’t lie and your rear passengers won’t complain about being cramped, although it’s so much fun to drive that backseat drivers may ask you to slow down. 

2018 Audi Q7 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
Comfort and support are Audi driver seat hallmarks, and the Q7’s are no exception. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The Q7’s speed-sensing electric power-assist steering feels just right and responds to input quickly and accurately, while the SUV’s fully independent double wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension system absorbs all the nasty road imperfections yet still manages to stay glued to the road even when pushed much harder than you might think possible. Audi may have found the ideal compromise between sport and comfort, as I never felt like I was giving up either. Added to this is Quattro AWD for all-season confidence, a system that has saved me from snow covered ski hill parking lots and launched me out of even deeper snow banks plenty of times, and would no doubt be just as capable of dealing with muddy cottage backroads, etcetera. 

2018 Audi Q7 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
This massive powered panoramic sunroof is standard across the Q7 line. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

And that from an SUV that can gobble up seven occupants and much of their cargo, the area behind the rearmost seats good for 420 litres (14.8 cubic feet) of what-have-you according to the U.S. EPA, which is about as much as a generously sized sedan’s trunk, while if you fold those rear seats flat via the aforementioned power controls you’ll end up with 1,062 litres (37.5 cubic feet) behind the second row, or go a step further and you’ll have a cavernous 2,027 litres (71.6 cubic feet) of available space, and more so a completely flat load floor. 

2018 Audi Q7 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
Second-row roominess and comfort are hard to criticize. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Even better, Audi was really inventive with its second row seats, as they’re not split in the usual 60/40 configuration, and not even sectioned into a 40/20/40 division that allows a narrow pass-through down the middle for skis and other long cargo, but they’re almost evenly divided at 35/30/35 for a much larger centre pass-through and a more comfortable middle seating position. 

Power releases pop the second-row seats forward for easy access to the third row, and while I wouldn’t want to spend an entire day back there I was able to buckle in my five-foot-eight frame without discomfort. This still left plenty of legroom for second-row passengers, which certainly won’t be able to complain about spaciousness in all other directions either, or comfort. 

2018 Audi Q7 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
The third row provides enough space for two medium-sized adults on short journeys. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Is the Q7 the best mid-size luxury SUV available today like I inferred at the beginning of this review? My answer would depend on your personal priorities, such as performance over luxuriant pampering, how you prefer controlling infotainment functions, from a simple, straightforward touchscreen or via a rotating knob, touchpad (for pinch, swipe and finger gesture capability) and surrounding buttons on the lower console as Audi provides. The system is excellent and incorporates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, accurate navigation, superb backup and overhead cameras, plus its depth of colour, resolution and overall speed of operation can’t be faulted. 

2018 Audi Q7 3.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
This large, flat loading area makes the Q7 ideal for active families. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Added to this, the Audi Virtual Cockpit is by far best of the best when it comes to digital gauge clusters. I love how the “VIEW” button on the left steering wheel spoke expands the multi-info display to epic proportions, leaving smaller digital dials for speed and tachometer readings. This allows the navigation mapping and route guidance info to almost completely take over the display, or one of many other functions within the system. 

Yes, it’s difficult not to love the Audi Q7, which is why there are so many on Canadian roads. It would be unwise to buy into this category without experiencing a Q7 first hand, as it’s easily one of the best on offer.

In a market that’s constantly talking big about SUVs and simultaneously downplaying the popularity of traditional sedans, the Audi A3 has steadily made year over year gains. In fact, the recently revised…

2018 Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv Road Test

2018 Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
Audi’s A3 was refreshed for 2017, therefore this A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro remains unchanged for 2018. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

In a market that’s constantly talking big about SUVs and simultaneously downplaying the popularity of traditional sedans, the Audi A3 has steadily made year over year gains. In fact, the recently revised model’s Canadian sales grew 5.3 percent from the close of 2016 to December 31, 2017, while deliveries are up an impressive 63 percent since 2014, the first full year that four-door sedan and convertible body styles were added to the mix and the conventionally powered first-generation five-door wagon/hatchback Sportback was dropped. 

To be clear, along with the A3 Sedan and A3 Cabriolet, Audi once again sells an A3 Sportback, albeit now dubbed A3 Sportback e-tron due to only being available in plug-in hybrid guise, while the A3 Sedan is also available with sportier S3 and RS 3 upgrades. Being that I haven’t driven any of these alternative versions in 2018 guise I’ll keep this review focused solely on the A3 Sedan, which once again found its way into my hands in mid-grade 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv trim. 

2018 Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
Audi cleaned up the new A3 Sedan’s details front to back. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Back to sales and the SUV phenomenon, the A3 was the only car in its subcompact luxury class to achieve positive growth last year, actually managing to pass right by the Mercedes-Benz CLA on its way to segment bestseller status. While this is great news for Audi, the surprising flip side to this scenario is a Q3 subcompact luxury SUV that’s losing ground to its competitors, with calendar year 2017 sales that were off by 3.5 percent in a Canadian new vehicle market that was up overall. Audi will want to remedy its entry-level SUV situation quickly. 

2018 Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
The A3’s grille is larger and more angled, while its lower fascia gets some nicely chiseled detailing. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The A3 Sedan needs no such drastic attention, especially after receiving a significant mid-cycle upgrade for the 2017 model year. It therefore continues into 2018 unchanged, with its “horseshoe” grille still slightly larger and more angled than the one it replaced, the now standard HID headlamps slimmer with more sharply scalloped lower edges than the more conservative outgoing lenses, and its standard LED taillights still dazzling when lit up at night, while the refreshed A3 Sedan’s sharply detailed lower front and rear fascias continue forward unchanged as well. 

Last year’s redesigned standard and optional alloy wheels needed no fix either, my tester’s being a stunning set of machine-finished twinned five-spoke 18-inch alloys that looked as if they’d been upgraded to S Line sport trim, but such wasn’t the case at all. 

2018 Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
The headlamps get a more angular design as well as optional full LED lighting. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Really, despite standing out like a fully dressed premium four-door, my 2018 A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv tester was simply Audi’s least expensive model in its standard mid-range trim, nothing special. Or at least it was nothing special for an Audi. The German brand’s bold, sporty styling has helped sales steadily grow year over year since 2005, even making gains through the great recession. Specifically, Canadian Audi sales grew 17.9 percent last year, making 2017 the luxury brand’s strongest growth since 2014 that saw its sales expand by 19.5 percent over the previous year’s sales record. Other standout years include 2010 with a 26.7 percent increase over 2009, while even 2008, right smack dab in the middle of the financial crisis, saw Audi sell 22 percent more vehicles than 2007. That 10-year period witnessed Audi Canada sales grow by more than 288 percent, all because of making smart decisions like the A3 Sedan. 

2018 Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
The A3 Sedan now looks as upscale as any other Audi model. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The four-ringed brand’s winning formula has long included some of the most appealing cabins in the industry, and the new A3 Sedan only improves on the outgoing model. It’s all about tastefully applied high quality materials—an ample supply of real aluminum trim always part of the package. 

The fully configurable Audi Virtual Cockpit 12.3-inch TFT primary instrument package was added to top-line Technik trim as part of last year’s update, while the car maintained its already well-received MMI infotainment system that continues to power up out of the dash-top to the oohs and ahs of passengers, so Audi is ahead of its rivals in one instance and about mid-pack with the other. 

2018 Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
The Progressiv trim’s 18-inch alloy wheel upgrade makes a big visual difference. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Why just a middling classification for A3 infotainment? The 7.0-inch display’s diameter probably makes it a bit small in today’s bigger is better tablet-infused world, although it was certainly large enough for my requirements, and despite providing bright, beautiful colours, deep and rich contrast, crystal clarity and stimulating graphics, its lack of touch-capacitive control keeps it from earning top marks. Then again, the screen earns big points for its disappearing act, or rather the ability to eliminate its own distracting presence during night drives by hiding away in the same nook that brings it to life on startup. 

2018 Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
The new LED taillights can be upgraded with dynamic sequential turn signals. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Audi recently upgraded the MMI Radio’s operating system to accept Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, but being that I use an Android-based phone and don’t like the latter system I found the standard interface more pleasing to look at and plenty easy to navigate through, and I’m not just talking about route guidance. Yes, Audi included its $1,950 Navigation package in my $36,100 Progressive trimmed test car, which added MMI Navigation plus to the centre display, as well as MMI Touch to the lower console, and a colour multi-information display (replacing a rather rudimentary looking monochromatic unit) to the otherwise analogue primary gauge cluster. 

2018 Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
All Audi A3 Sedans provide a high-quality premium interior. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I should be clear that my Progressive trimmed A3 Sedan tester was actually upgraded with Quattro all-wheel drive, so the starting price was pushed up to $40,900 before freight and fees, and I should also let you know that all manufacturer recommended prices are easy to find and perfectly accurate at CarCostCanada.com, the one-stop-shop that allows me to quickly source pricing, features, cost/markup info, available rebate details and more. Here you can see the base 2018 A3 Sedan Komfort starts at just $32,800, while the top-tier Technik hits the road at $45,300. 

2018 Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
The A3 Sedan’s cockpit is great looking and set up with ideal ergonomics. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The $4,800 difference from front-drive to the all-wheel Quattro drivetrain includes more than just rear-wheel motivation, by the way, the upgrade also featuring 34 more horsepower from 186 to 220 ponies, 37 additional lb-ft of torque from 221 to 258 foot pounds, and one less forward gear, from the FWD car’s brilliant seven-speed dual-clutch S tronic automated gearbox to the slightly less flashy yet still very good six-speed S tronic automatic transmission. 

Efficiency fans may also chagrin at the Quattro-equipped car’s lack of idle start/stop that helps to reduce the base model’s claimed fuel economy to just 9.1 L/100km in the city, 6.8 on the highway and 8.0 combined to a less miserly yet still thrifty 9.7, 7.5 and 8.7 respectively, but frowns turn to a smiles when factoring in the more formidable model’s 0.8-second gain from standstill to 100km/h, the FWD model performing the feat in a respectable 7.0 seconds compared to the Quattro’s much more entertaining 6.2 seconds. 

2018 Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
The primary gauge package gets upgraded with a colour multi-information display in Progressiv trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Both A3 trims benefit from highly responsive speed-sensitive rack and pinion steering and a wonderfully nimble fully independent chassis, the latter consisting of MacPherson struts with lower wishbones up front and a four-link suspension with separate springs and dampers in back, the setup combining for easy manageability and a nice comfortable ride through town, superb manoeuvrability on fast-paced windy back roads, and total stability at highway speeds up to 209 km/h (130 mph), but take note the Quattro system’s rear-drive mechanicals eat up trunk space, reducing available cargo capacity by 62 litres (2.2 cubic feet) to just 284 litres (10.0 cubic feet). 

2018 Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
A 7.0-inch infotainment display powers up from within the dash-top at startup. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

At least Audi finishes the A3 Sedan’s trunk off nicely with a carpeted floor, sidewalls and under-lid, plus chromed tie-down rings at each corner, while it provides 60/40-split rear seatbacks to expand on its usefulness, with a handy centre pass-through for placing longer cargo like skis down the middle so that a duo of rear passengers can enjoy the more comfortable window seats. Also notable, the rear seat folding mechanisms feel much better made than average, while along with a spare tire Audi has organized some small cubbies below the cargo floor for stowing items like work gloves and rags, or possibly a little tool kit. 

2018 Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
The navigation and backup camera systems are optional, odd this day and age. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I should point out the A3 Sedan’s rear seating area is fairly roomy for this subcompact luxury class, with my five-foot-eight medium-build frame still a healthy six inches from rubbing knees against the backside of the driver’s seat after setting up the latter for my near-average height, plus there was still plenty of room for my feet while wearing clunky leather boots. The A3 also provided more than a few inches of air space next to my hips and shoulders, but rear headroom was somewhat compromised with only an inch or so above my crown, and it should be noted that my torso is shorter than average for my height, so therefore someone five-foot-ten with a normally proportioned body would probably find the A3 Sedan a bit cramped in back. 

2018 Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
A3 switchgear is high in quality, with nice aluminum detailing throughout the cabin. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Of course, other than the need to move around the cabin to take notes I spent the majority of my time in the A3 Sedan’s driver seat, which proved easy to set up thanks to exceptionally good ergonomics, and was therefore wonderfully comfortable and ideally positioned for optimal control. Backing out of my parking spot I immediately appreciated the dynamic guideline-assisted rearview camera system that relegates a third of the MMI display to active overhead graphics, which highlighted my car’s proximity to surrounding objects via colours that corresponded with the front and rear parking sensor’s audible beeps, hazard orange changing to bright red when coming dangerously close to scratching the A3’s lovely paintwork. 

2018 Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
The A3 shifter and infotainment controllers are beautifully finished. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

My tester was finished in Ibis White, one of two standard colours that also include Brilliant Black, while Audi offers an octet of $800 metallic enhancements, with Cosmos Blue Metallic being the most interesting—the rest are white, silver and grey shades, plus vibrant Tango Red Metallic. 

Now that I’m talking features, on top of everything already mentioned, base Komfort trim includes 17-inch alloys, auto on/off headlights, aluminum doorsills, an electromechanical parking brake, leather upholstery, a powered driver’s seat with four-way power lumbar, heatable front seats, rain-sensing wipers, dual-zone auto climate control, a leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, 7.0-inch MMI infotainment, 180-watt 10-speaker AM/FM/CD audio with an aux plug, satellite radio, Bluetooth phone connectivity (without audio streaming!), a large glass sunroof, an alarm, and more. 

2018 Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
The 12-way powered driver’s seat is extremely comfortable. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

On the safety front the A3 gets the expected ABS-enhanced four-wheel disc brakes with EBD and BA, plus traction and stability control, Pre-sense Basic crash response, and six airbags, which is good enough for five stars from the NHTSA in standard trim and Top Safety Pick status from the IIHS when its $1,050 LED Lighting package is added. Within the A3’s subcompact luxury class only BMW’s 2 Series achieves the latter IIHS rating, and being a two-door coupe or convertible it doesn’t directly compete. 

2018 Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
Audi calls it a panoramic sunroof, and while it doesn’t cover most of the roof it’s still plenty large. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Upgrading to Progressiv trim provides Audi Drive Select with Comfort, Auto, Dynamic (sport) and Individual modes, the aforementioned 18-inch alloys, brighter high-gloss window surrounds, unique Mistral aluminum interior inlays, more aluminum trim, LED ambient cabin lighting, a powered front passenger seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with an integrated compass (that should really be standard in this class), Audi’s MMI music interface featuring Bluetooth audio streaming (ditto standard equipment), one more SD card reader slot, an extra USB charging port, the rearview camera with active guidelines mentioned earlier (I still can’t believe it’s not standard), and more. 

2018 Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
Excepting headroom, rear seat spaciousness is good for the class. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I should point out the A3 Sedan’s aluminum cabin trim is exquisitely finished, especially around the shifter and MMI controls, the latter including a large rotating dial surrounded by aluminized buttons. The circular controller provides a matte black surface on top capable of finger gestures in lieu of the tablet-style touchscreen missing from the dash, which means that any tap, pinch and swipe functions need to be performed on this small surface. 

Options include a Premium package at $1,700 with the base car or $1,100 when added to Progressiv trim, the price difference due to only adding proximity keyless access with pushbutton ignition plus fore and aft parking sensors with the upgraded trim, being that the bright window surrounds and powered front seats are already standard. 

2018 Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
The A3 Sedan’s trunk is on the smaller side, but it’s nicely finished. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I’ve already noted the LED headlight upgrade and Navigation package, which means that only the $1,800 S line sport package remains, a worthwhile addition that features unique exterior styling, a separate set of 18-inch alloys, a sport suspension, S line doorsills, brushed aluminum interior trim, a flat-bottom steering wheel with paddles, sport seats, and a black headliner. 

I’d be tempted to go for the S Line sport package if this were my personal ride, and it would be difficult not to spend a little more to move up to Technik trim as well, which makes everything mentioned (other than the S Line package) standard, including the LED headlights and navigation, plus adds auto cornering headlight capability, special dynamic taillights, a heatable steering wheel, the aforementioned Virtual Cockpit, a brilliant sounding Bang & Olufsen audio system, Audi side assist to warn from approaching rear traffic, and more. 

2018 Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
A 60/40-split rear seatback is further improved with a centre pass-through. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Additionally, only Technik trim lets you add a $1,400 Technology package with Audi pre-sense front, Active Lane Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go, plus High Beam Assist, the latter two well worth the price of admission for convenience sake, and the first two capable of saving life and limb. 

With pricing between $33k and $50k, plus features to justify any extra expense, it’s no wonder the A3 Sedan remains so popular. It delivers exactly what budget-oriented premium sport sedan buyers want, and looks fabulous no matter the trim. I expect Audi will remedy some of the base car’s shortcomings by making some optional items standard, but keep in mind that it’s priced well and includes leather, auto HVAC, a sunroof, etcetera in its most basic package, so splurge for Progressiv trim if an auto-dimming mirror, backup camera, and Bluetooth streaming are must-haves. Either way you’ll be well served in a 2018 Audi A3 Sedan.