First drive: Audi Q3 Sportback

The perfect blend of form and function – the all-new Audi Q3 Sportback hits Australian roads.

Joining the second-generation Audi Q3 in the compact, luxury SUV ranks, the all-new Q3 Sportback adds its own distinctive sense of style to what is a beautifully sorted package.

James McRory

Mark Bramley

3 April, 2020

There is simply nothing else like the Q3 Sportback amongst the premium compact SUV ranks

What works in terms of style is very much a personal thing. Beauty as they say is in the eye of the beholder, but when it comes to the automotive world, there are some models that just ‘work’. The Audi TT is a perfect example – universally applauded for its captivating design from the moment it first appeared. The all-new Q3 Sportback likewise, just seems to ‘click’, from a design view point. It takes the already appealing platform of the second-generation Q3 launched last year, and seamlessly integrates the Audi Sportback design ethos – that sweeping, coupe-like profile – to arrive at a compact, luxury SUV with its own very distinctive and captivating style.

There is simply nothing else like the Q3 Sportback amongst the premium compact SUV ranks, and while the family resemblance is obvious enough, the Q3 Sportback is longer and sits lower 30mm lower than its sibling, giving it a completely different character altogether.

Although it’s the same width as its sibling, the lower, sweeping roofline and flared wheel arches give the impression of a wider and more aggressive vehicle. There’s nothing shy or retiring about the front end with its large Singleframe grille flanked by large air intakes, and the chiseled flanks only add to that solid, muscular vibe. Add 19-inch wheels to the equation and there’s no denying, the Q3 Sportback makes a strong statement.

Launched in Australia in three configurations, customers will be able to choose between the Q3 Sportback 35 TFSI S line ($49,900*) and the Q3 Sportback 35 TFSI Launch Edition ($56,450*), both powered by a 1.4-litre TFSI producing 110kW and 250Nm. Or for the first time in the new Q3 ranks, a quattro model is available in the guise of the Q3 Sportback 40 TFSI quattro S line ($61,900*). This uses a 2.0-litre TFSI powerplant to produce 132kW and 320Nm of torque, elevating performance to even greater levels. But more on that in a moment.

The sharp design carries over to the interior where Audi’s reputation for creating some of the best interiors in the premium segment is in very safe hands. Clean and flowing are terms that spring to mind as soon as you sit in the Q3 Sportback. Every aspect of the interior has been carefully considered and beautifully executed. The dash layout favours the driver, positioning everything within easy reach and important navigation and vehicle information where it can be appraised with a glance. With the Audi virtual cockpit front and centre and an additional screen positioned off to the left, everything from the Audi Drive select, navigation and infotainment options are all right there within easy reach. And there is no shortage of ‘gadgetry’ for those not content to hunker down behind the multi-function wheel and just drive. From wireless Apple CarPlay to Audi phone box light which wirelessly charges your smartphone and dual simultaneous Bluetooth phone connections. Then of course you can open up a veritable world of connectivity from your luxurious surrounds with Audi connect plus, which literally plugs you and your Q3 Sportback into the digital environment.

The MMI navigation plus with MMI touch offers multiple views of navigation routes along with the satisfying ‘click’ and haptic feedback each time a command is manually selected, or the voice command system is also ridiculously easy to use if you’re the type of driver who likes both hands on the wheel at all times.

Inside the cabin you’re also struck by the room, given that this vehicle occupies the ‘compact, luxury SUV’ sector – there isn’t anything remotely compact about the interior. Five adults will sit comfortably in the Q3 Sportback – although not on this occasion, where social distancing meant first Australian driving impressions were conducted solo.

Despite its sporty design and persona though, there is no shortage of space for luggage and equipment either, with rear seats that can not only be split 40:20:40, but also slide forward and back in a 130mm range to expand the luggage compartment from 530 litres to a massive 1400 litres with the rear seats laid flat.

Despite its sporty design and persona though, there is no shortage of space for luggage and equipment either

Fuel and acceleration figures aside though, the Q3 Sportback 35 TFSI Launch Edition does everything with ease

Behind the wheel is a particularly rewarding place to be in the Q3 Sportback. On offer for the first Australian drive were the 35 TFSI Launch Edition and the 40 TFSI quattro S line, with their aforementioned 110kW and 250Nm and 132kW and 320 Nm respectively.

The 35 TFSI Launch Edition is a variation on the entry level 35 TFSI S line but adds significant additional equipment on the entry-level model which is itself, impressively equipped. Think equipment highlights like unique 19-inch alloy wheels, metallic paint, privacy glass, folding exterior mirrors, high-output Audi sound system, auto dimming interior mirror, electric front seats with electric lumbar support, heated front seats, a 360-degree parking camera, as well as Adaptive cruise assist, with emergency assist.
Both the Launch Edition and the Q3 Sportback 35 TFSI S line use a six-speed S tronic transmission and, driving the front wheels, it hits 100km/h from a standstill in 9.3 seconds but returns fuel figures of 7.3 litres per 100km.

Fuel and acceleration figures aside though, the Q3 Sportback 35 TFSI Launch Edition does everything with ease. It lopes along on the highway with plenty in reserve for overtaking at speed. It is ‘zippy’ and responsive in the cut and thrust of commuter traffic, allowing you to pounce (safely!) on openings in traffic, and on twisty backroads – even truly broken up country backwoods – it’s just a lot of fun. Indeed the Q3 Sportback 35 TFSI Launch Edition exhibited road holding and a surefooted feel that belies the fact that it is driven through the front wheels and not a quattro model. The Audi progressive steering which is standard across the range, does its job in communicating exactly what’s going on, and the result is a thoroughly engaging drive.

Get into the 40 TFSI quattro S line model and that acceleration and performance steps up another notch – in fact several notches. The 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine mated to a seven-speed S tronic transmission sees the 0-100km/h sprint over in 7.8 seconds, but it feels quicker.

The driving experience is one of being in a sports car on winding back country roads (thanks in no small part to the flat-bottom steering wheel with shift paddles), but with refined ride characteristics out on the open road or tooling around town.

Power is on tap as required, and the satisfying growl under load on the right roads, just adds to the overall driving experience. The Q3 Sportback is a vehicle that will make you smile on the right roads (particularly in the 40 TFSI quattro S line), but also makes general computing and even city gridlock a very comfortable proposition when it leans more heavily on the luxury side of its persona.

Immersed in the drive, it’s easy to forget too that this is an SUV, with its greater ride height and ground clearance, so even when the blacktop ends, the Q3 Sportback remains equally composed – think items such as hill descent control as part of the standard equipment.

And there is no shortage of driver assistance and safety equipment included in the standard configuration. Of course a 5-star ANCAP safety rating goes without saying, and this includes the likes of lane departure warning, Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) with cyclist and pedestrian detection, rear cross-traffic assist as well as a full suite of parking sensors and rear view camera.

Once again, the 40 TFSI quattro S line takes the whole package to another level, with 20-inch alloys and privacy glass the most obvious outer signs, but items like Adaptive cruise assist, with active lane and emergency assist, 360-degree camera and the Audi sound system with 180W and 10 speakers all adding to the overall experience.

The Q3 Sportback is a vehicle you get very used to, very quickly. Everything is not only where you would expect to find it, but where you would put it if you were designing the car yourself. Despite its classification in the ‘compact premium classes’ it is also a vehicle that will comfortably see off much bigger opposition – in terms of design, appointment and its sheer all round ability.

You may well come for the looks, but you’ll be hooked by the multi-faceted personality.

Learn more about the Audi Q3 Sportback

 (*Manufacturer List Pricing [MLP] – excludes dealer delivery and government statutory charges)

Power is on tap as required, and the satisfying growl under load on the right roads, just adds to the overall driving experience