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2015 Audi Q3 comes fashionably late to the luxury small SUV party

January 9, 2014

The iron law of the supermarket always says things cost less when sold in bulk; it's why a six-pack of Dr. Pepper costs more per ounce than a two-liter. What's less well known is how that same law applies to some cars, like the upcoming 2015 Audi Q3, which will arrive this fall as a slightly smaller but more expensive take on the Volkswagen Tiguan compact SUV.

On sale in Europe since 2011, the Q3 was part of the wave of luxury small SUVs that has now grown to include the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class, BMW X1 and the upcoming Lincoln MKC. (The product planners have designs for even smaller SUVs, with Audi already confirming a wee Q1 will roll into Europe in 2016.) Each has tried to take what's essentially a compact car body and make it seem like a mini luxury car, from interior appointments to relatively powerful engines tied to all-wheel-drive systems powering larger, shinier wheels.

In this, the Q3 goes along with the crowd, touting up to 19-inch wheels, 12-way power seats, a Bose 465-watt sound system, and many other features of numerical significance. But at least in its early version, the Q3's strongest competitor will not be any luxury make, but the Tiguan, which shares not just a chassis but a 2-liter, 200-hp engine — and which offers more passenger and cargo room than the Q3 coupe-like body, for less money.

Audi dealers will likely have the patter about the Q3 using a wholly different suspension setup and more luxury touches by the time it hits the showroom floor. But it will take a little more space between its VW counterpart — or perhaps one of the more powerful engines sold in European models — for the Q3 to really get up to speed on these shores.