First Drive: Audi Q3 Sportback

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With the SUV market seeing ever more niche segments, 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. Audi has been noticeably absent from this seemingly lucrative market until recently, though that changed with its A8 – and now the Q3 Sportback.

This compact machine is effectively a Q3 that signed up for a gym membership and looks leaner, sleeker and more aggressive than before.


It’s mechanically near enough identical to the regular Q3 but the Sportback has seen a 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 minimal, the only major introduction being Amazon’s Alexa assistant integrated into the MMI infotainment system. This allows for control of the vehicle’s media functions and Alexa-enabled devices elsewhere.


Our Audi Q3 Sportback is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, producing 227bhp and 350Nm of torque, sent to all four wheels via a seven-speed automatic gearbox. The result is 0-60mph in 6.3 seconds, with a 144mph top speed. In terms of efficiency, Audi says it can return up to 31.7mpg on the combined cycle.

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 real slouch, and remaining 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, while switching to dynamic mode sees it hold on to gears for long periods of time.


It’s far from the last word in driver engagement, though the chassis is quite 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.

Judging how comfort on smooth roads around the Black Forest translates to rougher UK asphalt is difficult, but it seems refined in all driving scenarios. Well-judged steering and a respectable turning circle mean it’s easy to navigate around towns too.


Undoubtedly the largest selling point of the Q3 Sportback over its boxier stablemate is its styling, with a sharper, more aggressive look. Its more imposing front end 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 from its regular sibling – or any recent Audi really. This isn’t a bad thing, with an abundance of premium materials and the fit-and-finish of the cabin at a very high standard. There’s little to be found in the way of cheaper feel items.

Practicality hasn’t been compromised with the new 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.


Full pricing hasn’t been finalised for the Q3 Sportback just yet, so we can’t make a final judgement on value for money, though Audi UK expects things to kick off around £32,240.

Standard exterior additions across the range include 18-inch alloy wheels, electrically folding door mirrors and LED head and rear lights, while inside the car Audi’s Virtual Cockpit system replaces traditional dials and gauges and is flanked by a 10.1-inch infotainment display. Assistance technology thrown into the package includes cruise control and Audi’s pre-sense safety package.

For our range-topping Edition 1 package, Audi throws in 20-inch matte black wheels, Matrix LED headlights, a black styling pack, Virtual Cockpit Plus (taking the display up to 12.3-inch), front sports seats, an extended ambient lighting package and Audi Beam, which projects the firm’s logo onto the floor when exiting the vehicle. Edition 1 is expected to be available from £38,235.


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 while behind the wheel.

It is, however, let down by a powertrain that’s uninspiring despite boasting fairly big numbers for a car of this size, and a gearbox bordering on dreadful in terms of response in all but Dynamic mode.

Facts at a glance

Model: Audi Q3 Sportback 45 TSFI Edition 1

Price: £44,870 (estimated)

Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol

Power (bhp): 227

Torque (Nm): 350

Max speed (mph): 144

0-60mph: 6.3 seconds

MPG: 31.7-31.4

Emissions (g/km): 174g/km


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