Everyone knows Lexus SUVs are amongst the most reliable in the luxury sector, but just one look at Audi’s Q8 and I don’t give a rip. Certainly, today’s RX is an attractive crossover that deserves…

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro Road Test

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
Audi’s Q8 is one of the sportiest looking SUVs in its class, but it’s also a totally practical daily driver.

Everyone knows Lexus SUVs are amongst the most reliable in the luxury sector, but just one look at Audi’s Q8 and I don’t give a rip. Certainly, today’s RX is an attractive crossover that deserves its place atop the sales heap, but the Q8 is downright gorgeous, which can’t be said about the majority of utility vehicles this side of a Lamborghini Urus. It’s no coincidence, therefore, that the ultra-hot Lambo shares much of its underpinnings with the top-tier Audi, not to mention Porsche’s Cayenne Coupe and, through its Q7 roots, Bentley’s Bentayga, too.

Yes, I just named two of today’s five available exotic SUVs, and while the Cayenne might not be considered exotic, it arguably sits higher in the ultra-premium pecking order than anything from BMW, Mercedes-Benz and, yes, Audi. The rest of the super-SUV segment is made up by Maserati’s Levante (that’s only exotic because Ferrari’s upcoming Purosangue hasn’t arrived yet), Aston Martin’s DBX, and the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, in order of exclusivity. Two out of five super-SUVs, all based on the Q7/Q8 (which is actually VW’s MLB platform) is impressive to say the least, so therefore we need to agree that the comparatively affordable Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro shown here plays in a rarified, prestigious crowd.

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
The Q8’s sharp lines look great from front to back.

Speaking of affordable, the Q8’s price hasn’t changed much over the three years it’s been available, with CarCostCanada showing a base sticker of $81,200 in 2019, $82,350 in 2020, and $82,550 for the upcoming 2021 model. Even better, Audi is currently offering up to $4,000 in additional incentives for 2020 and 2021 models, so keep that in mind while perusing this review.

The Q8 was introduced for the 2019 model year, incidentally, and except for a handful of tech features that have made their way to base Progressiv trim in newer versions, 2019, 2020 and 2021 models pretty well the same. Fortunately, the Q8 Technik being reviewed here included most everything Audi had on offer when tested, and thus all that’s available for 2021.

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
Audi has sharpened its grille over the years, so that it’s now bigger, wider, deeper and bolder than ever before.

You wouldn’t be alone if you’re wondering how the Q8 fits into Audi’s SUV lineup, because in effect it’s the two-row, five-seat version of the three-row, seven-occupant Q7, yet costs more. Audi seems to be targeting sportier SUV variants like BMW’s X6 and Mercedes’ GLE Coupe, even though the Q8 is only slightly less practical than the just-noted German brands’ respective X5 and more upright GLE, not to mention the five-passenger Lexus RX mentioned a moment ago.

Specifically, the Q8’s 605 litres of dedicated cargo volume is down 90 litres when compared to the RX, although at 1,719 litres total it has 140 additional litres of gear-toting space than the Japanese alternative when their rear seats are folded flat. Likewise, the Q8 has 40 litres less area behind its second row than the X5 and 25 more than the X6, although gets pragmatically walloped by a sizeable 328 litres when laying the bigger BMW’s seats down. Still, it’s 194 litres more accommodating than the X6 when fully optimized. As for Mercedes’ GLE and GLE Coupe entries, they’re both more commodious in the cargo area, with the former up 85 litres behind the second row and 336 litres when those seats are lowered, and the latter improving on the Q8 by 45 litres and 1 litre respectively.

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
Gorgeous lighting details, the Q8’s LEDs are more than just attractive.

How did I go from comparing the Q8 and Lamborghini’s Urus to talking about cargo carrying mundanities? I might as well of started off talking about fuel economy, which is (I can’t help myself) rated at 13.8 L/100km city, 11.7 highway and 12.7 combined. Now that I’ve completely lost your interest, my boring, pragmatic point is that despite being on a more performance-focused mission than, say, the Q7 that comes standard with a 248-horsepower turbo-four in base trim and can’t be had with the Q8’s top-line 591-horsepower RS powertrain, my sporty looking tester’s 335-horsepower V6 hardly challenges anything from Sant’Agata Bolognese.

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
Going all-black is fashionable these days, and Audi’s Q8 delivers.

With 369 lb-ft of torque available, the 3.0-litre V6-powered Q8 is quick, mind you, or at least quicker than most will require more often than not, and if you absolutely must have more when needed, Audi offers the 500 horsepower SQ8 that puts 568 lb-ft of torque down to tarmac, and the already mentioned RS Q8 that incidentally puts out a formidable 590 lb-ft.

The most potent variety is good for a 3.8-second run to 100 km/h, which in fact mirrors the straight-line performance produced by Bentley’s W12-powered Bentayga, but still comes up 0.2 seconds shy of the Urus’ 3.6-second run. This said, if you can tell the difference from the seat of your pants I’ll be impressed. As for the mid-range SQ8, it’s good for a 4.3-second rip from standstill to 100 km/h, while Audi claims 6.0 seconds for the same feat in my tester’s 55 TFSI Quattro configuration. That’s pretty damn fast for a luxury SUV, by the way, so while this is the slowpoke of this very speedy bunch, it’s by no means a snail.

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
Audi provides plenty of OEM upgrades that can make your Q8 as practical as possible.

Part of the go-fast equation is ZF’s well-proven eight-speed automatic that does double-duty in the Q7 as well as plenty of other luxury models in and out of the Audi family. It’s as effortlessly smooth during everyday driving and as brilliantly quick-shifting when pushed hard as in the Q7, while Quattro continues Audi’s all-wheel drive leadership with sensational traction no matter the road conditions. The Q8 includes Comfort, Auto, Dynamic (sport), Individual and Off Road “drive select” modes too, the sportiest of which make the most of the SUV’s direct electromechanical steering setup and capably tuned five-link front and rear suspension design, resulting in a luxury crossover that’s as comfortably docile as required, or as entertaining as most could want, at least this side of a more performance-oriented trim.

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
These edgy LED taillights almost look as sharp during the day as they do when lit up at night.

Truly, as enjoyable as I found the Q8 to drive, this base model is more about comfort than speed. This is immediately noticeable when looking inside, where one of the industry’s most attractive interior designs is joined by Audi’s renowned materials quality and build execution. Like the Q8’s exterior styling, the cabin features a stylish array of sharply shaped soft and hard surfaces organized within a horizontal layout that visually enhances the SUV’s width, resulting in a very spacious look, feel and reality; the expansive panoramic sunroof overhead doesn’t hurt matters either.

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
That’s a plank of warm open-pore hardwood on the door panel, and there’s more inside making the Q8’s cabin very inviting.

My tester’s interior was mostly charcoal grey except for large sections of piano black surfacing across the instrument panel and lower console, which melded perfectly with various integrated electronic displays, plus the warming addition of some brown to the otherwise grey-stained open-pore hardwood inlays found on the outside of the same lower console as well as the doors.

While hardly the type of traditional warmth still provided by some luxury brands, the Q8’s cabin is far from austere, helped out significantly by Audi’s usual tastefully applied aluminum accents and the just-noted electronic screens, which colourfully brighten the gauge cluster and centre stack.

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
The Q8’s interior is as well made as it’s good looking.

Not just high in resolution, these are clear, colourful, graphically stimulating high-definition displays filled with functionality, starting with Audi’s “Virtual Cockpit,” a fully digital gauge cluster that’s like no other, and followed up by two touchscreens on the centre stack, the main infotainment interface up top and a smaller secondary unit dedicated to the heating and ventilation system below.

I’ve gone on at length about Audi’s Virtual Cockpit in previous reviews going back years, initially blown away with its “VIEW” button-actuated capability of expanding multi-information features to encompass the entire display, except for tiny primary driving dials that remain in each lower corner. Now, a number of competitors provide similar functionality, but Audi’s remains one of the slickest operators for its ease of use and ample personalization capability.

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
Audi’s “Virtual Cockpit” allows the multi-information display to take over the entire display (see the gallery for more).

I especially like expanding the navigation map within that gauge cluster, as it’s not only an eye-popping conversation starter when friends are riding along, but really helpful when wanting to focus on the road ahead. Better yet, utilizing a larger multi-information display for such functions frees the main infotainment display for front passenger use, while the HVAC controls are always close at hand.

Certainly, the latter effect is much the same as with cars that keep analogue HVAC controls in similar positions, but the Q8’s slick-looking, nicely organized interface modernizes the entire experience, while also preventing coffee spills and food crumbs from slipping between the cracks of buttons, knobs and switches, therefore maintaining a cleaner and more hygienic environment.

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
The main infotainment touchscreen provides a comprehensive assortment of features amidst a logically laid out interface with stunning graphics.

By the way, the aforementioned “drive select” modes are incorporated into a narrow, touch-sensitive strip just below the HVAC interface, which also includes a button for cancelling traction and stability control, switching on the hazard lights, and choosing defog/defrost settings. This switchgear, and all others in the Q8’s tidy cabin, is extremely well made.

Such attention to detail is expected from Audi, as is interior comfort. Number one with me is a vehicle’s driving position, because my legs are longer than my torso, so once I’ve moved my seat rearward enough to accommodate the former, I need more reach from the telescopic steering column than some vehicle’s offer in order to comfortably hold onto the rim of the wheel, without cranking my seatback to a near vertical position. This is critical for control too, because the ability to lay one’s wrist over the top of the wheel is optimal, allowing relaxed, bent elbows when the hands are positioned at the 9 and 3 o’clock positions. To make a short story long, the Q8’s driving position is near perfect, making it the perfect companion for all situations.

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
A separate HVAC touchscreen melds into the Q8’s nicely organized lower console.

The driver’s seat also included plenty of adjustments, including a lower cushion that could be extended to cup below the knees, one of my favourite features, while along with the usual fore/aft, up/down, recline, and four-way lumbar, was a comprehensive massage feature providing wave, pulse, stretch, relaxation, shoulder, and activation modes, plus a trio of intensity levels, while the usual three-way warming cushions were accompanied by three-temperature cooling.

When my seat was pushed back far enough to accommodate my long-legged five-foot-eight frame, I still had ample room overhead, which makes sense being that Ingolstadt’s team of product planners live amongst a relatively tall Germanic population. Likewise, for all other directions, of course, not to mention the SUV’s rear quarters that are very generous as well. In fact, I could almost fully stretch out in back, which is unusually good even for the luxury class.

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
These are two of the more comfortable and supportive front seats in the class.

When the third passenger stays home, rear occupants benefit from a wide, comfortable fold-down centre armrest, complete with dual cupholders, as well as power-operated side sunshades that can both be modulated at either side of the cabin. The climate control system is four-zone, so Audi provides another touch-capacitive control interface on the backside of the front console, complete with switches for the rear outboard seat warmers, all of which sit just under a set of HVAC vents that combine with one more on the rear of each B-pillar.

I spoke about cargo capacity at the beginning of this review, so at the risk of banging on about even more dimensional specs, suffice to say it should be roomy enough for most peoples’ needs while providing an extremely well-finished, fully-carpeted compartment with an attractive aluminum protective plate on the door sill, bright metal tie-down hoops, and a neat little webbed storage area, while the seatbacks are configured in the optimal 40/20/40 split-folding configuration, allowing longer items like skis to be stored down the middle while rear passengers enjoy the more comfortable heated window seats.

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
The Q8’s rear quarters are very spacious.

The top-line 2020 Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro trim I tested starts at $90,200 plus freight and fees, which was a big move up from the previous year’s price of $88,800, but not quite as dear as the $91,200 needed for a 2021 model. I suppose needed is not quite the right word, being that once again Audi is providing $4,000 in incentives for those wise enough to take advantage, with all of the information needed to do so found on either CarCostCanada’s 2020 Audi Q8 Canada Prices page or the 2021 Audi Q8 Canada Prices page.

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
Lots of cargo space, plus the flexibility of 40/20/40-split rear seatbacks.

Incidentally, CarCostCanada’s ultra-affordable membership provides inside information about any available manufacturer rebate, all manufacturer financing and leasing deals, as well as dealer invoice pricing that gives you a significant edge when negotiating your deal. Be sure to find out how it works, and while you’re at it download the free CarCostCanada app so you can have all the most critical info you need at your fingertips when shopping for your Q8, or any other new car, truck or SUV.

This said, the Q8 is a good place to start shopping. From its handsome design and beautifully finished interior, to its strong performance and many practical elements, such as its strong set of standard and optional features, its superb comfort front to back, and its all-round generous accommodations, the Q8 is hard to beat.

Story by Trevor Hofmann

Photos by Karen Tuggay

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.

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.

You know you want it. Spring is here and summer is just around the corner (or at least we hope), so there’s no better time to contemplate a new convertible. Fortunately, Audi has the ideal answer to…

2017 Audi A3 Cabriolet Quattro Technik

2017 Audi A3 Cabriolet 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
We’re driving the new 2017 Audi A3 Cabriolet 2.0 TFSI Quattro in top-line Technik trim. Like it? (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

You know you want it. Spring is here and summer is just around the corner (or at least we hope), so there’s no better time to contemplate a new convertible. Fortunately, Audi has the ideal answer to your newfound dilemma of which drop-top to buy.

Say hi to the recently updated 2017 Audi A3 Cabriolet, a refreshed version of the entry-level luxury convertible that’s made a comfortable home for itself just below the A5 Cabriolet since it debuted for the 2015 model year.

2017 Audi A3 Cabriolet 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
Blade-shaped taillights incorporate new LEDs and the updated lower fascia gets nice diffuser-style styling. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Audi isn’t alone in this category thanks to BMW’s 2 Series Cabriolet, which gets an even more subtle facelift and interior improvements as part of an early 2018 release (the former appearing to be nothing more than body-colour lower fascia paintwork added where matte black used to be, some chrome splashed onto the top edge of the corner vents, and an interesting new hexagonal take on the corona LEDs within the headlamps, plus more of an M2 design added to the Sport package fascia), but the four-ringed Ingolstadt, Germany-based luxury brand offers plenty of reasons for considering its open-top offering over its Munich-sourced countryman.

2017 Audi A3 Cabriolet 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
The A3’s new scalloped headlamps get updated with full LEDs in Technik trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

First and foremost it looks every bit an Audi and a particularly attractive one at that. While Audi’s horseshoe-shaped singleframe grille is big and imposing, most find it difficult to figure out exactly which model is heading toward them from a distance. This is done intentionally, and while some competitors have attempted to add near full-size versions of their grilles to compact models with questionable effect, none has succeeded as wholly as Audi. As it is, all Audi cars, from the full-size A8 to the comparatively tiny A3, are obvious siblings.

2017 Audi A3 Cabriolet 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
Love these 19-inch rims, optional with the Technik. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

In total, the A3/S3 sedans, the five-door A3 Sportback (only available with the e-tron plug-in hybrid powertrain), and this A3 Cabriolet were refreshed for 2017, the result being a win-win-win aesthetically. I’ve driven and reviewed the other two already, so this convertible version will complete my coverage of the entry-level luxury segment’s bestselling triumvirate.

2017 Audi A3 Cabriolet 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
Audi interiors almost always impress. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

All receive a new chiseled edginess to their designs in the form of new sharply scalloped standard HID and as-tested optional full LED headlamp clusters bookending a broader more angular grille frame, this latter item visually floating above a variety of reshaped lower fascias; the differing fascia designs dependent on whether the S Line sport package is added or not (my loaner has it). New lenses and a revised array of standard LEDs update the look of the already stunning blade-shaped tail lamps, whereas the bumper below gets a few tweaks to make it new.

2017 Audi A3 Cabriolet 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
The A3’s driver-centric cockpit gets enhanced in S Line trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

On that note, the just mentioned S Line package not only enhances the front fascia, but also provides rocker extensions down each side and a new bumper cap with intricately fashioned diffuser-style details for the rear lower fascia, this latter addition worth the price of admission alone.

As always with a mid-cycle update, Audi added new standard and optional wheel choices to the mix, while also on the expected upgrades menu are new exterior paint finishes. All in all the updates modernize the A3 Cabriolet’s look and aligns it more fully with the rest of Audi’s lineup, but I must say the outgoing version didn’t need many changes to bring it up to speed.

2017 Audi A3 Cabriolet 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
The “Virtual Cockpit” configurable gauge package is truly special. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Where Audi often wins against rivals, including BMW, is interior design and execution, and the new A3’s improvements won’t help the Bavarian’s cause. Tasteful minimalism continues, as do high quality surface treatments that include plenty of soft synthetics, genuine aluminum inlays and access, plus rich leathers.

As for all-important electronic interfaces, the A3’s infotainment system continues to power up out of the dash upon startup, which is a bonus for those who’d rather stow it away during night driving, and a negative to others who prefer larger displays (the A3’s is only 5.8 inches diagonally) with tablet-style pinch, swipe and tap touchscreen convenience.

2017 Audi A3 Cabriolet 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
This 5.8-inch infotainment display powers up out of the dash at startup. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The A3’s display is controlled via a beautifully finished rotating aluminum dial with classy knurled edges. It’s situated on the lower console, which is common in the premium sector, making it easy to perform handwriting gestures on the knob’s matte black circular top. The Audi MMI system’s brains get filled with much of the latest tech, such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus various apps like Spotify and WhatsApp, and more when upgraded to the $600 Audi Smartphone interface (which is standard in second-tier Progressiv and top-line Technik trims), while its new iPhone-inspired graphics and more intelligent interface make it easier to figure out.

2017 Audi A3 Cabriolet 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
It’s nice details like the MMI infotainment controller that separate the A3 from competitors. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Even more impressive is Audi’s fully configurable “Virtual Cockpit” TFT gauge cluster, new for the A3 this year and totally worth the upgrade to Technik trim. It’s a 12.3-inch digital display that completely replaces the base and mid-range models’ traditional dual-dial analog gauge package, and in the process offers a number of driver selectable configurations. The most interesting is a steering wheel-mounted “VIEW” button that reduces the size of the digital tachometer and speedometer before placing them to each side, at which point the centre-mounted colour multi-information display grows to epic proportions. When navigation is chosen, an eye-arresting array of colourful maps takes over most of the primary cluster. By scrolling through the steering wheel controls you can use this feature for enhanced readability of other functions as well, and then when needing to check up on vital driving info you can simply press the view button again.

2017 Audi A3 Cabriolet 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
Like the look of these sport seats? (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I could go on talking about the Virtual Cockpit ad nauseam, or for that matter the A3 Cabriolet cabin’s improved switchgear, much of which now utilizes white backlighting for a bright, modern look, or we could all just celebrate that a USB port is now standard across the A3 line (it was Apple or the highway before), but I’ve said too much for a garage report already.

2017 Audi A3 Cabriolet 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
Roomy enough for your friends or family? (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

In my upcoming review I’ll be sure to spend plenty of time telling you about my on-road driving experience. Just like earlier models, the 2017 A3 Cabriolet automatically upgrades the engine from the A3 Sedan’s base front-drive layout to standard Quattro AWD, which means the drop-top model misses out on the four-door’s all-new 186 horsepower 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder (which replaced the aging 170 horsepower 1.8-litre turbo mill), the engine now making with 236 lb-ft of torque and improved fuel economy thanks to a new combustion process, auto start/stop, and a new seven-speed dual-clutch “S tronic” automatic, but the A3 Cabriolet’s carryover 2.0-litre four is still competitive thanks to 220 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, as is its mostly carryover six-speed twin-clutch transmission with paddle shifters, the difference being a new auto start/stop system just like on the lesser drivetrain.

2017 Audi A3 Cabriolet 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
Cargo space is always an issue with convertibles. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

There’s plenty more to comment on, including the general quietness of the car (or loudness) with the top up and down, the ease and speed (or not) of its powered retraction and deployment, its visibility (or lack thereof) with the roof closed, overall refinement, rear seat roominess and comfort levels, cargo capacity, how all the features work (or don’t), and the list goes on, so be sure to come back and check out the road test review…