Motoring | Motoring News
Jaco Van Der Merwe
The SUV’s fabled ascendency to the throne as the world’s favourite car shape is old news. These days it’s the evolving intricacies inside this kingdom that hog the headlines.
Keen to build on the success of their initial SUV offerings, carmakers ventured into producing various sizes to boost the segment’s popularity. This was followed by offerings which combine traditional SUV styling with other designs, referred to as crossovers.
The coupe-styled SUV, a design distinguished by it’s sloping roofline at the back, has become a very popular alternative over its more traditionally SUV-styled siblings. It offers all the practical benefits of what you have come to expect from an SUV combined with a sportier appearance. But the catch is that this design has been rather exclusive up until now as premium brands have been occupying the playing field. BMW’s most affordable coupe-styled SUV, the X4, starts at R993 314, while you’ll have to fork out R1 073 080 for Mercedes-Benz’s most affordable GLC Coupe.
Audi too has had a presence in this space for the last few years with the Q8, a larger offering than the X4 and GLC Coupe. Starting at just north of R1.5 million, the Q8 finds itself in the price range of the Porsche Cayenne Coupe and BMW X6.
Ingolstadt has since taken a significant leap towards making the coupe-styled SUV more affordable with the Q3 Sportback, albeit being a more compact offering than the most affordable models in its German competitors’ stables. Finally rolled out locally late last year, the Q3 Sportback starts at R693 000 for the 35 TFSI S line. We got to drive the top-of-the-range 40 TFSI quattro S line on test, which is stickered at R737 000.
You are probably wondering why Audi chose not to call this model the Q4 instead like they did with the Q8 and BMW has done with its coupe-styled SUVs the X4 and X6. Word has it that although Q4 was the initial internal project name for it, Ingolstadt took the decision to reserve that name for a future electric offering instead.
The most obvious differences between the Q3 and the Q3 Sportback are the sloping roofline resulting in flatter D-pillars and a sportier rear made possible by more chiselled lines, muscular bumper and roof edge spoiler. The Sportback shares a 2 680 mm wheelbase with the Q3, but being 4 500 mm long, 1 843 mm wide and 1 556 mm tall it is 16 mm longer, six millimeters thinner and 29 mm flatter contributing to a sportier look than its sibling. It’s appearance can be further enhanced by the optional Black Styling Package which includes dark surfaces on the bumpers, while optional 19-inch alloys will also enhance the picture.
In 40 TFSI quattro guise, the 2.0-litre petrol engine produces 132 kW of power and 320 Nm of torque which is sent to all four wheels via seven-speed S tronic transmission. Audi claims that it will get to 100 km/h from a standstill in 7.8 sec and although we did not put it to the test, we have no reason to doubt them.
The Sportback returned very acceptable fuel consumption figures of 10.3L/100 km over the 552 km we covered during its week-long stay, which including a good mixture of city and open road traffic. The best we managed was 8.8L/100km during an open road trip which totalled 238 km. Progressive comes standard along with sport suspension, which combines to create six drive select profiles ranging from efficient to off-road mode.
On the whole, the Q3 Sportback is a very quiet, smooth and easy car to drive, offering adequate oomph and heaps of comfort for most people’s daily needs regardless of road or traffic conditions. On the inside Audi’s drive for cockpit digitilisation is a clear as in any other of the carmaker’s new models. It comes standard with an 8.8-inch infotainment system, with the optional virtual cockpit featuring a 12.3-inch screen with MMI Navigation Plus.
For a compact SUV offering, the Q3 Sportback offers plenty of space in the cabin. A highlight is the rear seats which can be adjusted longitudinally by 130mm to either create more legroom or more luggage space. Speaking of which, offers a healthy 530-litres of boot space. Safety in the Q3 includes the Audi pre-sense basic systems which includes lane departure warning and lane change warning, while various addition features can also be ordered optional.
To take the hassle out of choosing between a myriad of single optional extras, Audi offers the following various packages which each features a combination of features. The packages are Comfort, Technology, Sport, Parking, S line interior and Black styling.
Audi ticks two boxes with the Q3 Sportback. It establishes itself further in the compact SUV market space which is vitally important during these uncertain financial times which has seen many of its customers buying down, while offering a more affordable coupe-styled offering at the same time. It has all the ingredients for a winning recipe.
For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.