DRIVEN: Audi’s new Q3 Sportback is capable and stylish, but pricey
JOHANNESBURG - Another day, another SUV, you could say as consumers continue the trend of switching over to the increasingly popular taller vehicle option.
Or in the case of the Audi Q3 Sportback - a cross-over utility vehicle as the manufacturer calls it.
Either way, the Q3 Sportback fills a niche in the market that although not completely mainstream, does give potential owners an alternative when it comes to deciding what model to go for when the Q3 is in your sights.
The wheelbase is exactly the same but at 4.5m long, 1.556m high and 1.843m wide, it's 16mm longer, 29mm higher and 6mm less wide than its standard sibling.
Audi has managed to get the proportions just right and the exterior with its quattro blisters, standard 18-inch alloys (with optional 19-inch) and optional Black Styling Package, is quite striking .
Inside you'll find the interior very much to your liking with typical Audi quality fixtures and fittings.
Electric heated seats provide a comfortable driving position and even with the seat moved relatively forward should you wish to accommodate three passengers in the back, tall drivers won't find it uncomfortable.
As is the norm nowadays a digital cluster gives you all the necessary feedback and in the case of the Q3 Sportback a 22.3cm screen operated via the multifunctional steering wheel does all of that for you.
You can also opt for the Audi virtual cockpit and in the top echelon as part of the Technology Package the virtual cockpit plus comes with a 31.2 inch screen along with MMI Navigation Plus.
As you would expect all systems are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible and with the MMI navigation Plus, connection with an iPhone is cable-less.
While Audi has done a sterling job both inside and out it has also added a 40 TFSI quattro model powered by a 2.0 litre turbopetrol engine that sends 132kW and 320Nm to all four wheels via a very smooth seven-speed S tronic dual clutch transmission.
You can still opt for the six-speed 30 TFSI though, which pushes 110kW and 250Nm to the front wheels.
Driving the 40 TFSI quattro around Muldersdrift and Magaliesberg gave us a fair idea of the vehicle's capabilities. Granted, it was fitted with a full-house of options to the tune of R192 790 but the standard driving and handling impressions were very good.
The Q3 Sportback comes standard with sport suspension which has six different modes to select from via the Audi drive select system.
We found it to be extremely well balanced through corners and it managed to comfortably soak up some particularly nasty speed bumps along the way.
It takes a while for the car to pick up speed and when pressed hard there's some whine from under the bonnet but at speed there's very little noise intrusion and the S tronic transmission borders on sublime.
Assistance-wise everything is taken care of including lane departure warning, lane change warning, 360 degree cameras and park assist.
Introduced to South Africa a while ago to make the options list less complex you can select from Comfort, Technology, Sport, Parking, S line interior and Black styling packages.
While the Q3 Sportback isn't expected to appeal to the masses it certainly has a place in the line-up albeit somewhat dear especially when you start adding some nice to have options.
AUDI Q3 SPORTBACK PRICES
35 TFSI S tronic - R693 000
40 TFSI quattro S tronic - R737 000
The vehicles come standard with a five-year/100 000km Audi Freeway plan.