Audi Q3 Sportback - illogical Jim, but it works


Audi has done the logical thing and added a Sportback version to its Q3 range.

Words: Kyle Cassidy   |   Photos Supplied
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For some, the idea of the coupe-inspired SUV is highly illogical, especially for the Vulcans amongst us. But Audi’s Q3 Sportback puts such a thing on the market for $90k, handily undercutting the more expensive and larger X4 and GLC Coupes. We reckon it’s right-sized for urban life, comfortably big enough and easy to live with.

The Q3 SB looks similar to the more logically styled Q3 up front but in profile the roofline starts to dive as it makes its way back, giving it more of a hatchback look. It’s dubbed ‘coupe-inspired’, for obvious money-spinning reasons.

Some of these vehicles are executed better than others, the original X4 an example of the squatting canine, while the Q3 better nails the all important proportions. This manages to look dynamic yet sophisticated. It’s lower overall than the regular Q3, making it appear faster, especially in red, a proven performance enhancer.

It’s lower overall than the regular Q3, making it appear faster, especially in red, a proven performance enhancer.

There’s just one model offered, making things simple, the 45 TFSI. Trying to explain what those numbers mean is a bit harder. Good luck with that. It’s less to do with engine capacity and more about output but the 2.0-litre turbo makes way more than 45 kilowatts, fronting with 169 of them, helped by 350 Newtons which stream forth from 1500-4300rpm. Those are handled by a seven-speed twin-clutch and grounded by the Haldex-type, on-demand version of quattro AWD. Other bits include a 0-100km/h dash done in 6.5sec (which we can confirm), meaning it’s pretty quick, while the official fuel consumption is given at 7.7L/100km.

That will depend on you showing some restraint however. Judging by the trip computer’s long term average (11.2L/100km), it seems most can’t. During our brief time with the Q3, high nines is a more likely figure for usual day-to-day running.

While these coupe-inspired SUVs are all about style, the Q3 SB doesn’t sacrifice practicality. Lift the tailgate (powered of course) and there is a well shaped boot with a quoted 530L, expanding out to 1400. For those seated in the back, headroom isn’t compromised by the roofline, and entry is okay too. It’s just a bit cave-like back there given the all-black interior theme.

This is more a two plus a small kid kind of bench but extra leg room can be had by sliding the seat back, as there is 130mm of travel on offer. Handy that.

The S Line treatment gives it a flat-bottomed steering wheel, bolstered seating, the trim a mix of leather and textile, and there are the usual alloy splashes about the cabin. The seats are electrically adjusted, but not heated, though the driving position and adjustment are sorted.

The ambient lighting gives the black decor a lift while the 10-inch touchscreen eliminates most of the buttons. Sensibly, the ventilation is still controlled the old way. The wireless charge pad is designed to make it easy to retrieve your phone; some others eat them. And this has USB C ports for newer devices.

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There’s the requisite multitude of Drive modes, six in all, but this will most likely remain in Auto where the system adapts to the mood of the driver. In urban environs, the Q3 SB is off the mark swiftly and the engine serves up good pull from 1500rpm. That turbo’d torque translates to genuinely easy pull, with no need to resort to the transmission’s Sport mode. Given some stick, it can stretch to 7000rpm, just, while quattro ensures you’re still pointing in the desired direction. Audi’s Progressive Steering is fitted, meaning there’s just over two turns between the stops. That makes for easy commuting; you need only rotate the rim a quarter turn to negotiate intersections. Though the Q3 SB is specified on sports suspension, this rides well, particularly given the optional 20s fitted here.

We’d describe its dynamic character as clinical. There’s abundant grip so it leaps off the curves, and with torque vectoring on guard, it’s unlikely to stray from its cornering line. The steering is quick and accurate, the weighting right with just enough sensation. You feel a few of the choicer bumps, but the payback is honed control with only minimal roll when you’re trying. The gearbox isn’t quite slick enough on the kickdown but otherwise, it’s a competent package.

It asks $87,990, a $2k premium on the equivalent Q3, and comes well loaded, the S Line pack being included. Options are limited to variations on the alloys, adaptive damping (but at $2100, we’d be happy enough with the standard sports suspension), fancier LED lights, a glass roof and big sounds. If you really need heated seats, these are only available via a $1500 Leatherette package which adds said material to the door armrests.

Otherwise, it’s as we stated, a competent package being well positioned and priced in the luxury market. Even if the coupe SUV genre is illogical.

The Stats

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Model Audi Q3 Sportback 45 TFSI  Price $87,990

Engine 1984cc, IL4, T/DI, 169kW/350Nm

Transmission 7-speed auto, on-demand AWD

Vitals 6.58sec 0-100km/h, 7.7L/100km, 174g/km, 1681kg

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