Used Car Reviews

2015-2018 Audi Q3 Used Vehicle Review

The Q3 is Audi’s smallest SUV, taking its place below the larger Q5 and larger-still Q7.

The timing, updates, and model year changes for the Audi Q3 of the 2015–2018 era are a little odd, so let’s start with a lay of the land. It first hit Canadian roads in 2014 as a 2015 model year unit before being refreshed the following year. That’s because the lifecycle cadence was dictated by international markets, where the Q3 had been on sale since 2011.

Shop a 2016 or newer Q3 for an extensive list of standard equipment, including heated 12-way power-adjustable front seats, a panoramic sunroof, and more. Alternatively, 2015 model-year units may have more attractive pricing. This updated version of the Q3 was on sale through 2018, before a redesigned version replaced it in 2019.

Every Canadian Q3 used a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 200 hp. Both front- and all-wheel drive configurations were offered, so if you’re shopping a used Q3, be sure to confirm you’re looking at the one you want.

Whether or not your new-to-you Q3 is equipped with all-wheel drive, remember to maximize its performance and capability by installing a high-quality set of winter tires during colder months. All-wheel drive isn’t a replacement for winter tires.

What Owners Like

Many owners agree that the Q3’s quiet and comfortable ride and upscale interior materials are key assets that drew them in for a closer look, with comfortable seating and a long list of standard features helping seal the deal.

What Owners Dislike

On complaints, some owners wish for a larger cargo area, sportier acceleration and handling, and better fuel economy.

Shop Around

If you’re shopping for a used Audi Q3, it’s worth checking out some of the competition, too. Key rivals include the BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class. This Audi is the shortest in terms of overall length and wheelbase, but also the widest and tallest in the trio.

The Q3 has a slight lead in seats-down cargo capacity versus the GLA-Class, and the pair are roughly tied for cargo capacity with the seats up. Still, for maximum cargo space in either seating configuration, point your search in the direction of the BMW X1.

If rear-seat legroom is important to you, the Q3 delivers more than the GLA-Class or X1 (who are also roughly tied in front-seat legroom, by the way). Meanwhile, the Q3 has the amount of headroom up front.

Engine Problems

Some owners have reported engine trouble with their Q3s. Most have not.

Though you’re unlikely to experience trouble with camshaft failure, turbocharger failure, or fuel injector issues, it pays to be on the lookout for some of the telltale trouble signs, just in case. These issues tend to be rare and occur at lower mileage, usually under warranty. They also share a symptom: a check engine light (CEL).

The CEL in a modern car can illuminate for hundreds of reasons, some of which are serious. However, not all problems will cause a CEL to illuminate. That’s why a pre-purchase diagnostic scan is such a good idea: it can pull stored CEL trouble codes from the engine computer, giving your technician a glimpse into potential issues that may be lurking – or confirming that the engine is indeed healthy and trouble-free.

Check the engine oil as outlined in the owner’s manual. Be on the lookout for a strong fuel odour as you remove the dipstick and note that a level that’s either too high or too low can be a sign of trouble.

The 2.0L turbo engine in the Audi Q3 is a highly mass-produced engine that should prove solid and reliable for the vast majority of owners. Many owners report that servicing dealers are quick and effective at addressing problems should they arise, and many also say the Q3 has been their most reliable Audi in recent memory. Though engine problems are possible, those outlined here do not reflect the actual experience of most (or even many) owners.

Water Pump Failure Recall

Volkswagen and Audi have been contacting owners of certain models affected by defective primary water pumps. According to a class-action lawsuit filed in 2021, defective plastic used in the construction of these water pumps could cause water pump failure, alongside catastrophic engine failure, if affected.

As of November 2023, letters were being mailed out to owners of affected models including 16 Volkswagen and Audi products that use the potentially defective water pumps.

If the water pump in your Q3 fails while you’re driving, you’ll see a warning light and urgent notice to pull over and stop the vehicle’s engine. With a failed water pump, your engine is at immediate risk of overheating, special steps need to be followed to prevent rapid engine death. You’ll find those in the owner’s manual.

If a failed water pump ruins the engine in your new-to-you Q3, damage and repair are covered (but don’t risk the hassle). When buying a used Q3, ask the seller if the water pump is original, check the documentation to confirm whether or not the water pump has ever been replaced under warranty, or replaced with an updated part.

Contact Audi Canada to find out whether the Q3 you’re driving might be affected, and what’s involved in the extended water pump/engine warranty.

Key Fob Check

Some owners have experienced frustrating trouble with the smart key system in their Q3s. Most have not. In some cases, the vehicle and key fob fail to communicate with each other, meaning the doors will not lock or unlock when the driver touches the appropriate spot on the handle. The remote buttons continue to work, however.

Owners have reported that dealers can update the software for this system, and have also repositioned interior antenna arrays to try and create a more stable connection. When checking out the used Q3 you’re considering, be sure to confirm that both remote (push-button) and smart (hands-free) locking and unlocking is possible with both key fobs.

Keeping key fob batteries fresh and always storing your key fobs as far from the vehicle as possible can help prevent other headaches with the smart key system, too.

Consider a 2018

There’s a good reason to consider a 2018 Q3, if your budget allows for it: compared to a brand-new model, end-of-lifecycle models are often associated with higher-than-average reliability as they age. That’s thanks in part to updated practices, parts, and procedures put in place during production updates, improving the overall quality of the vehicles year over year.

In 2018, the Audi Q3 earned a nod from J.D. Power and Associates as the top small premium SUV in terms of owner-reported reliability at three years of ownership (referring to data on 2015 units).

Safety Ratings

IIHS: Top Safety Pick (2015)