The Audi Q3 Sportback is a slightly less practical but more stylish SUV than the previous version. Picture: SUPPLIED
The Audi Q3 Sportback is a slightly less practical but more stylish SUV than the previous version. Picture: SUPPLIED

A year after launching the second-generation Q3 sports utility vehicle in SA, Audi has introduced the swoopier Sportback version.

It is a slightly less practical but more stylish execution of the SUV, with a coupe-like roofline that is 29mm flatter and provides 20l less luggage space — though that still leaves a generous 530l of cargo room.

Styled with a more athletic vibe, the shoulder line is also lower than standard Q3, while there’s heritage in the sporty design with the extended wheel arches (known as Quattro blisters) referencing the original Audi Quattro of the 1980s.

The Q3 Sportback is classified as a crossover utility vehicle (CUV), a niche segment that grew 20% last year and includes rival products such as the BMW X2 and Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe.

The new Audi is a roomy five-seater that doesn’t suffer much loss of headroom due to the lowered roof. Family practicality is enhanced by the three rear seats being individually adjustable for leg room and backrest angle. The seats flip down to expand cargo space to a useful 1,400l.

Safety-wise the standard fare includes six airbags and stability control. LED headlights and rear lights are also included in the basic package, or optional matrix LED units with an adaptive high beam that intelligently illuminates the road without blinding oncoming cars.

A digital instrument cluster comes with the integrated MMI touch radio plus as standard, or optionally the Audi virtual cockpit that allows drivers to switch between multiple views.

The digitised cockpit radiates Audi’s typically sophisticated flair. Picture: SUPPLIED
The digitised cockpit radiates Audi’s typically sophisticated flair. Picture: SUPPLIED

Dipping into the options list also buys electrically powered front seats, panoramic sunroof, electric tailgate, park assist, and a black styling package as part of a host of extra-cost items.

Several preset packages (including Comfort, Technology, Sport, and S Line) are available to reduce complexity when ordering a new vehicle.

The Audi Q3 Sportback is positioned above the regular Q3 in price, but also comes in two vesions. The base model is a front-wheel drive 35 TFSI powered by a 1.4l petrol turbo engine with outputs of 110kW and 250Nm, paired with a six-speed S tronic auto transmission — which is mechanically identical to the standard Q3. It’s claimed to cover the 0-100km/h run in 9.3 seconds.

Like the standard Q3, the Sportback is also available with a 2.0l petrol turbo engine mustering a more lively 132kW and 320Nm, mated to quattro all-wheel drive and a seven-speed S-Tronic dual clutch automatic. This 40 TFSI Quattro model is credited with a 0-100km/h sprint in 7.8 seconds.

The 2.0l version I drove at the launch felt peppy and refined, and was kept efficiently in its power band by the slick-shifting dual-clutch gearbox. The Q3 Sportback strikes an impressive ride and handling balance, taking fast corners with almost car-like agility but also gliding comfortably over bumps.

PRICES

Audi Q3 Sportback 35 TFSI S tronic — R693,000
Audi Q3 Sportback 40 TFSI quattro S tronic —  R737,000
Includes a five-year/100,000km Audi Freeway plan.

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