Just about everyone has an SUV these days, but few folks have a “Sportback”. Joining the likes of BMW’s X2 in a segment targeting design-conscious customers, the new Audi Q3 Sportback is a stylish spin-off of a popular compact SUV. It looks sleeker and more cohesive than the hunchbacked silhouette of some competitors.
Riding lower than the standard car, the Sportback trades roof rails and body cladding for 19-inch wheels and a more svelte profile.
Priced from $49,900 plus on-road costs (about $55,500 drive-away), the swoopy new option costs about $3700 more than a regular Q3. Standard kit includes LED lights, a powered tailgate, smart keys, climate control and leather trim.
The entry-level Q3 35 TFSI drives the front wheels with a 1.4-litre, 110kW/250Nm turbo petrol engine. A Q3 40 TFSI Quattro model adds all-wheel-drive traction, plus a 2.0-litre motor with punchier 132kW/320Nm numbers for a further $12,000.
An adequate safety suite includes automatic emergency braking and lane keeping assistance in the standard car. Adaptive cruise control, a 360-degree camera and other elements including a 10-speaker stereo are standard in the quattro but a $2250 option for front-drive customers.
As ever the case for a new Audi, the interior is a bright point. A 12.3-inch digital dash with highresolution satellite-based mapping is the best in the business, and a 10.1-inch central infotainment display looks crisp and clear, backed by wireless phone charging and mirroring features.
With designs on fashion conscious buyers, Audi has spiced up the popular Q3 DAVID McCOWEN
A flat-bottomed steering wheel with shift paddles hints at sporting intent, as do suedelike Alcantara and buffed aluminium highlights in a beautifully rendered space.
The seats and steering wheel offer more adjustment than most, and there are plenty of places to store odds and ends.
Larger than before, the new Q3 is reasonably practical thanks to 530 litres of boot space made possible by a three-way spilt/fold rear seat with a reclining backrest and the ability to slide 130mm fore and aft to prioritise cargo or passengers as required.
We tested the Q3 40 TFSI quattro on a mix of highways, mountain passes and country lanes south of Sydney. Impressively refined, the Q3 was quiet at motorway speeds while offering dynamic composure from taut suspension. Recent time in cheaper SUVs on the same route showed that there’s more to luxury cars than their badges — the Q3 felt much more stable and comfortable than budget alternatives. It steers sweetly, has impressive brakes and responds well when hustled along a favourite road.
Huge 20-inch wheels on the quattro variant lend unflappable traction on dry tarmac, and a choice of driving modes helps tailor the car to your mood. It’s an impressive machine, though there are shortcomings.
Premium fuel is a must, and official consumption of 8.2L/100km in the 2.0-litre car isn’t particularly impressive. The coupe-like silhouette cuts reduces headroom and cargo capacity compared to the regular Q3, and BMW’s basic X2 is about $3000 cheaper.
Audi is convinced those factors won’t be a deal-breaker among fashion-forward customers, for whom only a Sportback will do.