Audi's compact SUV borrows VW's good stuff. Cliff Leppke – CleanMPG – December 4, 2019 2019 Audi Q3 S-Line We all adjust our undergarments. You can discretely un-bunch your junk or just grab and adjust. Carmakers do the same thing; they routinely construct key models utilizing architectures or toolkits. Some premium brands go Hanes rather than Saxx Kintec. Audi’s new Q3 compact crossover rides atop VW’s MQB platform, the VW Golf’s transverse-engine, front-drive chassis. Look carefully at the Q3’s Hungarian-made machine’s wheelbase and you’ll see its identical to the European MQB-based short-wheelbase VW Tiguan. So we know whose underwear is under there. Unlike the Lexus UX 200, which cannot hide its Toyota Corolla underpinnings, the Q3 elevates the art of automotive tailoring. Examine the S Line’s pumpkin-spice orange Alcantara suede-like interior embellishments—the stuff wraps from the rear doors through the dashboard. It adds whimsy to the techo-Teutonic interior environ. Ingolstadt, therefore, did much more than rebadge a VW. Audi’s Q3 attractions are more than skin deep. It’s motivated by an all-wheel-drive go train with four-cylinder 228-hp turbo engine (ripped from the GTI), and an eight-speed automatic transmission with Drive Select. The latter lets you adjust shock damping and steering effort. In dynamic, the steering is quick with good road sense and feedback. Seventh and eight cogs keep engine rpm low about 1500 at 60mph and 1850 at 70 mph. Audi offers several onboard nannies. One asks you to stop straddling the centerline. The pre-collision system pulls the brake pedal and sounds an alert, when vehicles in front of you suddenly slow. Insects, smashed on the Q3’s front sensors, caused the forward warning system to shut down. The automatic eight-speed transmission can shuffle cogs like a card shark. When moving slowly through parking lots, the Q3’s engine/tranny croupier is flummoxed. A satisfactory engine note greets your right foot. A sport shift program ups the fun. Paddle shifters let you orchestrate motion. I netted 25 mpg overall with 28 on one highway trip. The twin-cam, direct-injection engine with start/stop to reduce idling emissions, drinks regular grade. The EPA numbers are 19 mpg city, 27 highway and 22 combined. The Q3 wears sensible clothes. It’s a two-box crossover with slightly raked rear liftgate. The grille is wide, though--a German-design epidemic. Have you seen the toothy BMWs? The S Line has effective LED headlights and fog lamps. Squinty LED taillamps and bright metal accents surround windows. Inside, four adults savor Audi’s exquisitely trimmed cabin. The 12-way power leather-trimmed front highchairs are supportive. Interior door release levers are sized and shaped for easy manipulation. The backseat slides and reclines. It’s contoured for comfortable seating yet folds flat to extent stowage. The middle perch is for kids only. Both front and rear riders get 12-volt outlets and USB ports. Those in back get face vents, too. Kick your foot under the rear bumper and the liftgate opens. The cargo floor is height adjustable. You can insert a road bike with both wheels attached. But one must remove the rear seatbacks’ headrests first. Survey the dashboard. You’ll notice Audi banished its familiar switches and replaced them with a wide glossy black surface. Instead of the usual rotary headlight control, you get pushbuttons. Adjusting instrument panel brightness is awkward. You use the 8.8-inch touchscreen’s menu. This screen’s icons are easy to learn. Tuning the radio, however, is a chore. Audi retains bits of its old-school interface. There’s a volume knob near the start button. Steering wheel thumbwheels are perfectly placed. They duplicate some touchscreen functions. Press the speak button and you can enter an address, make a call or tune the radio. And the touchscreen is a scratchpad. Write on it; predictive software deciphers what you’ve scribbled. It pulled up the Google map, which helped me find a destination in a cookie cutter office park. The Q3 starts at $36,995. Add 20-inch wheels, Bang & Olufsen sound system, navigation package, premium plus package with lane departure warning, park sense warning, phone charging box and a sport pack with three-spoke multifunction steering wheel and the tab grows: $44,990. They say good things come in small packages. This is as stubby as an Audi crossover gets. Built on a solid foundation, it’s an example of height done right.