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Audi Q3 Sportback 2019 Road test

What is the Audi Q3 Sportback all about? Audi had a perfectly good new model Q3 SUV, so why chop 3 centimetres out of the roof and create yet another Audi?

The reason is that SUVs are now going the way MPVs did ten years ago. You sit higher. You see further. You feel safer. Perfectly practical family hold-alls, but that’s the problem with them. They scream ‘mums and dads with children’.

So the next stage of SUV-dom is the SUV coupe.

Audi Q3 Sportback 2019 Side Blue 2 Better

We had seen it all before, of course, with the much reviled ‘bully boy’, ‘footballer’s wives’ BMW X6. Then BMW came up with a smaller one, the X4. Mercedes Benz got into the act with its GLE and GLC Coupes. VW has the smaller T-Roc. Peugeot brought us the current model 3008. Now it’s Audi’s turn.

Audi Q3 Sportback 2019 F34 2 (1)

The proportions of the Q3 Sportback are really good. Every detail carefully thought about. The shape of the lights. The grille. Designer Dany Garand did the Mk III Audi TT and the A8; and keeps a Lotus Esprit V8 in his garage. The Sportback doesn’t look like it would be particularly roomy inside, yet it is, with plenty of headroom, and a 530-litre load deck.

Audi Q3 Sportback 2019 Front Armrest

Even the front armrests are well thought out, so your arms rest on them naturally.

Audi Q3 Sportback 2019 Virtual Display

In front of you is Audi’s ‘virtual cockpit’ configurable to however the driver likes it. And on top models, Amazon Alexa integrated into the MMI system so if your home is compatible you can even control your domestic lights, heating or air conditioning from the car.

Audi Q3 Sportback 2019 Dash

The drivetrains are the ‘35’ TSI with 150HP 1.5TSI engine, manual transmission and FWD. ‘35’ TSI with a 48v Mild Hybrid system, DQ381 7-speed wet clutch S tronic and FWD. ‘45’ TSI with 230HP 2.0TSI, DQ381 7-speed wet clutch S tronic and quattro 4WD. ‘35’ TDI with 150HP 2.0TDI, DQ381 S tronic and FWD. And the ‘40’ TDI with 190HP 2.0TDI, DQ500 7-speed wet clutch S tronic and quattro 4WD. 

We drove the ‘40’ diesel and the ‘35’ 48v mild hybrid.

The diesel was comfortable and steered well enough. But, left to its own devices, the DQ500 box wasn’t as settled in its ways or as good as picking the right gear as PSA’s EAT8 in the 3008, CX Aircross and Rifter, or Vauxhall’s new 9-speed automatic in the Astra. More surprising was the slightly lumpen way it followed a first-generation Citroen C4 Picasso through the bends. The Citroen driver kept his speed down to around 80km in 100km zones, but didn’t brake for the corners. Keeping up in the Q3 Sportback was close to the edge of discomfort.

Audi Q3 Sportback 2019 F34 Blue 2 Best

However, I can recommend the Audi Q3 Sportback ‘35’ mild hybrid with no hesitation at all. (By which I mean none of the gaps in response that readers have been reporting with the 1.5TSI in other VAG cars.) Quite simply, the 50Nm torque added by the mild hybrid system masks all of that, ensuring drive is always available, whatever the circumstances.

And it’s quite good fun to paddle along in ‘Dynamic’ mode, responding much better than when left to its own devices. No quattro 4WD, but decent power delivery for what is, after all, quite a small engine in a substantial amount of car. (The 48v Mild Hybrid system also gives it an extra 12PS of power.)

However, for all its looks, qualities and specification, the Audi Q3 Sportback is an expensive car. It effectively starts at £34,100 for the Q3 Sportback 35 TSI Sport 7-speed S tronic Mild Hybrid. And it’s not long before you’re into £40,000 + territory, which now means £465 a year tax for 5 years.

Status comes at a price.

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