When it comes to tapping niches in the automotive market, few do it better than the German Big Three, especially Audi. The Ingolstadt firm has perfected the art of creating subtle nuances of existing model lines to catch any buyer otherwise inclined to slip through the net and into the clutches of rivals. The Audi Q3 Sportback is a prime example; a potential benchmark for those who need something a little bigger than the cheeky little Q2 but with a more visual dash than the otherwise excellent Q3. Yet in a market where the coupe-tailed crossover is starting to gain traction, is Audi’s newcomer just a slight re-engineering exercise to turn heads, or a real breath of fresh air?
Finished in the striking metallic Turbo Blue hue from our test unit, the Sportback looks good in that distinctively angular and hassle-free Audi manner, only truly drawing attention as it turns its Q8-inspired tail and C-pillar. sharply tilted towards the crowd.
Inside, little separates the Sportback from its standard Audi Q3 brother and sister; that is, the interior – although rather dark in its S-line trim – is solid and suitably high-end with only the optional 12.3-inch TFT dashboard and infotainment screens. MMIs that stand out against the otherwise conservative canvas of the facade. In addition to being well insulated against mechanical and road noise, the cabin is also pleasantly packed. The Sportback manages to largely bypass the space concessions that adopting a coupe-esque roofline often entails. Its dimensions of the cabin and trunk space are close to those of Q3 35TFSI which we tested in 2019 and this Sportback’s 116mm legroom deficit can be largely attributed to its bigger sports seats.
Coming from the same MQB modular platform as the Q3, and the Sportback’s model-specific sport suspension setup being the only noticeable difference between their underpinnings, the Sportback’s driving experience is smooth and composed. Despite reinforced springs and optional 19-inch rims from our 50-profile rubber-paved test unit, the Sportback rides urban bumps and ruts with aplomb. The compact Audi principles of well-weighted steering, plentiful grip with a whiff of understeer in tight corners, and tight body control are all present and correct in the Sportback; However, even with the Custom Settings Drive Select in place, it would be hard to describe the driving experience as anything but calm and accomplished. As an everyday driver, he’ll likely never be wrong, though powertrain limitations mean that even under its premium appearance, the Sportback is certainly no performer.
Power is supplied by a version of the Volkswagen Group’s long-life 2.0-liter EA888 turbopetrol engine that has been matched from 140 kW in the European market to 132 kW here, apparently in view of our relatively high quality unleaded fuel. low. While it’s flexible and serves up a respectable 320Nm, it wants the kind of oomph that the Sportback’s appearance suggests.
The powertrain’s lack of urgency was disappointing, especially in light of the fact that this model was equipped with Audi’s quattro AWD system. Indeed, the Sportback exhibited an unexpected amount of FWD-type tire scrabble when tasked with reducing its power cleanly for our 0-100 km / h acceleration tests. Combined with the 200kg weight penalty it carries on its stable mate FWD 35TFSI and a transmission that has occasionally shown some of the offline delays we have sometimes encountered in Audi dual clutch units in the past, and The 9.06- The second launch hour we released is a disappointment drifting off the company’s 7.8-second demand.
Fortunately, the Sportback’s improved braking system, including 16-inch rotors all around, contributed to an excellent stopping time of just 2.9 seconds during our 10 stops Braking exercise at 100-0 km / h.
While the performance isn’t what we’d call widening eyes, the Sportback’s value proposition left a few frowns. For a car north of the R700,000 mark, the standard specs are surprisingly modest. Without too many checkboxes on the configurator, our test unit covered around R140,000 optional extras; most of which could be attributed to the infotainment system and some largely cosmetic extras. The R35 180 technology package – which includes a touchscreen infotainment system with sat-nav, digital dashboard and ambient lighting – and maybe a flashier set of 19-inch R14,900 alloy rims (we saw examples of the stock 18s with 55-profile tires and they have looking rather dark in comparison) would be our optional extras of choice.
Summary of the test
For the objective, consumer-conscious person, cars like the Q3 Sportback always turn out to be a bit of a puzzle. Take the quantifiable out of the equation – the raw performance numbers, the tape measure and the nuisance that is the currency – and the Sportback’s style and solid build will undoubtedly have a crowd of buyers gathered outside of Audi dealerships. , keen on a baby-Q8 car driving installment. But while we’re undoubtedly in love with the Sportback’s look and generally happy with the way it handles its task on the road, we simply can’t ignore that it fails in a number of ways. Considering its sporty layout, minor suspension changes, modest performance on offer, and the AWD system’s lack of conviction, it sits a bit too close to its considerably cheaper cousin Q3 for comfort. Will this translate better to a badged RS model? We’re pretty sure the extra horsepower and visual threat will go a long way to allaying our apprehensions, but when you factor in the premium this car commands over the Q3, it looks like the Sportback isn’t just limited to the D department. ‘rear packaging.