With the SUV market seeing ever-more niche segments sprouted within, it’s no surprise that the coupe-esque crossover market is beginning to boom. BMW was first to the game with its X6, while Mercedes joined in with a number of variants of its own cars. Audi has been noticeably absent from this seemingly lucrative market until fairly recently, though that changed with its Q8 and now this — the Q3 Sportback.
Though mechanically near-enough identical to the regular Q3, the Sportback has seen a fairly comprehensive overhaul to its bodywork. It’s been cut down 6mm in width and 29mm in height, while growing in length by 16mm. Changes elsewhere are fairly minimal, with the only major introduction being Amazon’s Alexa assistant integrated into the firm’s MMI infotainment system. This allows for control of both the vehicle’s media functions and Alexa-enabled devices elsewhere.
Our Audi Q3 Sportback ‘45 TFSI’ test car is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, producing 227bhp and 350Nm of torque, with that sent to all four wheels via a seven-speed automatic gearbox. The result is a claimed 0-60mph time of 6.3 seconds, with a 144mph top speed possible. The way the engine goes about its business is fairly unassuming. It doesn’t feel as punchy as the numbers would suggest, though it’s no slouch either, remaining pretty quiet and refined at a cruise.
However, the package is let down by a poor gearbox that’s too slow to respond to throttle input in comfort driving mode. It means manoeuvres require more time to judge than seems reasonable, while switching to dynamic mode sees it hold on to gears for unnecessarily long periods of time. The chassis of the Audi Q3 Sportback is reasonably interesting thanks to a strong sense of control in the car, largely because of the adaptive damper system fitted to our test machine. Standard springs do result in a little more body roll, though it doesn’t hinder the car too much. Undoubtedly the largest selling point of the Q3 Sportback over its boxier stablemate is its styling, and we think the sharper and more aggressive look is one that’s bound to tempt buyers. Its more imposing front end certainly has a presence on the road, while the sloping rear could easily fool a few people into thinking this car hides more performance than it really offers.
There’s very little inside to differentiate the Q3 Sportback’s interior from its regular sibling — or any Audi made in recent years, really. This isn’t a bad thing, though. An abundance of premium materials is present, with the fit-and-finish of the cabin at a very high standard.
Practicality hasn’t been compromised with the introduction of the sloping design, either. Headroom in the rear is still at a good level, while boot space comes in at 530 litres — identical to the regular car.
Bringing a sleeker look to the Audi Q3 has proven a good move with the Sportback, with no drawbacks on the practicality front yet all the benefits of a better-looking car. It’s an overall decent package, with a good and easy driving experience with bags of tech — albeit a car that’s never going to set the pulse racing behind the wheel.