Audi Q3 Sportback review
The Audi Q3 Sportback is a more stylish alternative to your average boxy SUV, although others are more fun to drive and have more room for passengers.
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The Audi Q3 Sportback offers a more stylish alternative to the high-tech Audi Q3 and, in doing so, sets its sights squarely on the likes of the BMW X2, Range Rover Evoque and Volvo XC40.
That said, the Audi Q3 Sportback’s huge grille, angular intakes and intricate headlights look almost identical to those on the standard Q3. Peek around the back, however, and you’ll spot sharper creases on the doors and a super slinky roof that looks more like it belongs on a slinky coupe than a high-riding SUV.
Sure, it might not look quite as cool as the eye-catching Volvo XC40, but the Q3 Sportback certainly looks sportier than the oddly proportioned BMW X2 with its jacked-up backside.
If you’re expecting this theme to continue inside, you might be a bit disappointed. Everything, from the central touchscreen to the layered dashboard and optional Alcantara trims, looks just like it does in the standard Q3.
Thankfully, this means everything feels very well put together and most of the Q3 Sportback’s materials are soft and yielding. The infotainment system, with its gorgeous sat-nav and standard smartphone mirroring features, is another highlight.
Where some small SUVs try to look like sportier by putting on a set of jaunty bumpers and some fancy trims, the Q3 Sportback genuinely looks like a high-riding coupe.
Less praiseworthy is the Audi Q3 Sportback’s passenger space. Sure, there’s plenty of room in the front for tall drivers to stretch out, but headroom in the back is limited at best. Things get even tighter if you slide the seats forward to carry lots of luggage in the boot.
At least the Audi Q3 Sportback’s large load bay means you shouldn’t need to do this very often. It’s more spacious than the boots in the X2, Evoque and XC40 and can carry very nearly as much as the Q3 with the back seats folded down.
If you do plan to carry plenty of heavy luggage, the 40TDI diesel is the Audi Q3 Sportback to go for. It’s also the most economical if you do lots of motorway journeys, but the 35 TFSI petrol unit is better in town and the 45 TFSI petrol version is noticeably faster.
Whichever engine you pick, you’ll find the Audi Q3 Sportback is pretty relaxing to travel in thanks to its sound-deadening windscreen and standard safety kit that helps prevent avoidable collisions. It’s especially comfortable if you get a high-spec car with adaptive suspension and adaptive cruise control as standard.
Choosing a range-topping model makes the already rather pricey Audi Q3 Sportback even more expensive, though – especially when you consider that the standard Q3 is cheaper and better at carrying passengers. If, however, you’re looking for an SUV that’s packed with kit, has a big boot and won’t be mistaken for a jacked-up hatchback, then the Audi Q3 Sportback is worth a closer look.
The Audi Q3 Sportback has plenty of space in the front seats and its boot is one of the biggest of any small SUV, but tall passengers will feel very cramped in the back.
You might think the Audi Q3 Sportback’s sloping roof would mean its boot is a bit on the small side, but it has one of the biggest load bays of any coupe-styled SUV.
Space in the front of the Audi Q3 Sportback is just as generous as in the standard Q3. It’s a shame you have to pay for a high-spec Edition 1 or Vorsprung model if you want four-way electric seat adjustment with lumbar support, but there’s plenty of scope for you to manually move the seat and steering wheel to a comfortable position.
The front seats could do with a little more downward adjustment to make you feel as though you’re nestled in, rather than perched on, the Q3 Sportback, but at least there’s enough headroom for tall drivers to sit comfortably without brushing their heads on the ceiling.
Unfortunately, the Audi Q3 Sportback’s rear seats aren’t quite so accommodating. There’s just enough knee room for a six-foot-tall passenger to sit behind an equally tall driver, but they’ll find their head touches the roof unless they slouch uncomfortably. Go for a sporty S Line car and the standard black roof lining makes things feel even more cramped.
Things improve if you fork out for a high-spec Vorsprung model, however, because these come with a panoramic glass roof that makes the interior feel much airier without significantly cutting into rear-seat headroom.
There’s enough shoulder room to carry three adults in the back at once but the outer two passengers have to tilt their heads uncomfortably to one side. There’s also a sizeable lump in the floor that gets in the way of the central passenger’s feet.
You can slide the Q3 Sportback’s rear seats forward by up to 13cm (handy if you need to carry long luggage in the boot) but this only leaves enough legroom for kids or small adults.
If you need to carry much younger passengers, the Q3 Sportback’s sloping roofline and rather narrow rear door openings don’t leave a great deal of room to fit a bulky rear-facing child seat. There’s loads of space to lift in a booster seat, however, and the Isofix anchor points are easy to access beneath a set of removable plastic covers.
There are plenty of handy storage spaces in the Audi Q3 Sportback so you shouldn’t have any trouble keeping it looking neat and tidy. All four door bins are large enough to hold a 750ml bottle and you get a pair of generous cupholders in the centre console.
There isn’t a great deal of space under the front armrest, but there’s plenty of room in the glovebox and you get a storage tray under the dashboard for your phone. This comes with a wireless charging pad in high-spec Vorsprung models, but every Q3 Sportback comes with a USB and USB C charging port in the front and a 12V socket in the centre console.
There’s an extra 12V socket in the back between the front seats alongside two USB C charging ports so everyone can keep their phones topped up at all times. Passengers in the back also get a pair of luggage nets, two good-sized door bins and an extra storage bin beside each outer seat. Only S Line models and above come with a folding rear armrest, however.
The Audi Q3 Sportback has 530 litres of boot space with the back seats up. That’s exactly the same as the boxier Q3 and much more space than you’ll find in the likes of the BMW X2, Volvo XC40 and Range Rover Evoque.
It isn’t just roomy, the Audi Q3 Sportback’s boot is easy to load, too. There’s a slight load lip but, with the adjustable floor in its raised position, it’s dead easy to slide in lots of bulky luggage through the wide opening.
You can push the back seats forward by 13cm to carry especially bulky luggage, but you have to be careful not to lose small items through the gap between the boot floor and the back seats.
If you need to carry large luggage, the back seats fold down in a three-way (40:20:40) split. Unfortunately, there aren’t any remote levers of buttons in the boot to help you do this; you have to pull on a pair of straps by the rear seat bases, instead.
With all the back seats folded, the Audi Q3 Sportback’s boot grows to 1,400 litres – that’s around 10% less than you can fit in a Q3, but more than you’ll squeeze in the likes of the X2, Evoque, and XC40. To help you carry very tall items, the parcel shelf tucks neatly under the adjustable boot floor.
The Audi Q3 Sportback is easy to drive, fairly economical and comes with plenty of safety kit, but alternatives are much more fun on a twisty country road.
Unless you put it in sport mode, the Audi Q3 Sportback’s automatic gearbox changes gear with the enthusiasm of a toddler eating a plate full of vegetables.
You can get the Audi Q3 Sportback with one diesel and two petrol engines. Depending on which engine you choose, it comes with either front- or four-wheel drive and with a manual or automatic gearbox.
If you do plenty of city driving, the entry-level 35 TFSI petrol model will be your best bet. It comes with a 150hp 1.5-litre petrol engine, front-wheel drive and a six-speed manual gearbox as standard. It accelerates from 0-60mph in less than 9.6 seconds so feels reasonably perky – if not particularly fast – and Audi claims it’ll return around 40mpg in normal driving conditions.
You can also get this engine with a seven-speed automatic gearbox, which brings with it a 48V mild-hybrid system. This can turn off the engine when you’re coasting downhill or slowing to a stop to help save fuel as well as providing a helpful boost when you accelerate hard. This upgrade will set you back around £1,600 across the Q3 Sportback range.
If you fancy something a little faster, there’s a more powerful 45 TFSI 2.0-litre petrol model with 230hp. This comes with a seven-speed automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive as standard that help it reach 60mph from rest in less than 6.5 seconds. This extra punch means it can’t match the 35 TFSI’s fuel economy – Audi claims it’ll return around 31mpg.
If you do lots of long motorway journeys, the 40 TDI is worth a look. This version comes with a 190hp 2.0-litre diesel engine that makes it more economical on long journeys than the 35 and 45 TFSI petrol cars. Like the 45 TFSI, it comes with four-wheel drive for extra grip in slippery conditions and a seven-speed automatic gearbox as standard that helps it reach 60mph from rest in less than 8.3 seconds. It’s a little noisier than the petrol engines when you accelerate hard, but it settles into a quiet cruise at motorway speeds.
Just like the Q3 on which it’s based, the Q3 Sportback’s raised driving position and relatively thin pillars beside the windscreen give you a good view out over other cars. Rear visibility is, however, hampered by the Sportback’s thin windscreen, small side windows and intrusive rear headrests.
If you need a little help navigating tight car parks, high-spec Vorsprung models come with a 360-degree camera system that gives you a bird’s-eye view of the car and its surroundings to help prevent bumps and scrapes.
The Audi Q3 Sportback’s light steering helps when manoeuvring at slow speeds, but the standard car’s sports suspension can feel a little firm over bumps and potholes. The adjustable suspension you get as standard in high-spec Vorsprung models does a better job ironing out bumps in comfort mode but doesn’t exactly turn the Q3 Sportback into a sports car in its dynamic setting.
Find yourself on a twisty country road and you’ll notice the Sportback’s body leans a little in sharp bends. It never wallows to the extent that passengers might feel car sick, but it doesn’t feel quite as agile as a BMW X2.
The seven-speed automatic gearbox doesn’t help make the Audi Q3 Sportback any more fun to drive. It doesn’t change down with much urgency when you need a lower gear to overtake slow-moving traffic and it holds on to low gears for too long at slow speeds in sport mode. That said, it’s reasonably smooth around town and suits long motorway journeys well.
The quattro four-wheel-drive system you get as standard on 40 TDI and 45 TFSI models has plenty of grip, so you won’t feel apprehensive about tackling a slippery country lane in the depths of winter, but it’s not worth paying extra for in 35 TFSI versions.
Whether you pick a front- or four-wheel-drive model, you’ll find there’s nothing stressful about driving the Audi Q3 Sportback on motorways. Wind and tyre noise are mostly muted thanks to its special sound-deadening windscreen and you get plenty of advanced safety kit as standard. The latter includes lane-departure warning, traffic sign recognition, cruise control and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection – perfect if your rush-hour commute takes in busy city streets, too.
The Audi Q3 Sportback’s posh cabin has just as many high-tech features as the Q3’s but it doesn’t have the wow-factor of some more dramatic-looking alternatives.
Audi Q3 Sportback colours
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