Modern production engineering is a wonderful thing. It means that makers like Audi can offer an increasingly diverse choice of models, enabling everyone to find a model that meets their needs exactly. The new Q3 Sportback, for instance, combines the Q3’s versatility with a sleek fastback shape, for a hint of coupé with the practicality of a five-door SUV.
Distinctive from every angle, the Q3 Sportback proudly asserts its Audi identity with a dramatic, gloss-black grille and tapered headlights. Trapezoidal air inlets frame the grille, leading the eye around to the side with its strongly contoured wheel arches and sculpted doors. The roofline tapers down towards the tailgate for a coupé profile, while the matt black rear diffuser gives the tail a wide, purposeful look. Compared with the Q3 it shares a platform with, the Q3 Sportback is lower, slightly longer and a shade narrower.
The S line trim line brings larger 19-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass and an exclusive design for the bumpers, sill trims and diffuser, and also adds S line-specific interior detailing. Above it, the Edition 1 and Vorsprung models go a step further by upsizing to a 20-inch wheel and adding a black styling pack colouring elements such as the grille surround and window cappings.
They also upgrade to Matrix LED lighting technology for maximum illumination through dimming of individual segments of the headlamp unit to divert the beam around leading and oncoming traffic.
The sleekly sculpted exterior is complemented by a sophisticated cabin design inspired by the brand’s full-size models. Its focal point is a reductive two-level instrument panel incorporating the new 10.1-inch high resolution MMI touch display giving access to the top-of-the-line MMI navigation plus system which is standard for all UK Q3 models.
The various functions are displayed on the MMI Touch display and in the Audi virtual cockpit with its 10.25-inch screen in the instrument binnacle, which is also standard.
Virtual cockpit plus
An even more panoramic version with additional functions - the 12.3-inch Audi virtual cockpit plus – is fitted to Edition 1 and Vorsprung models. Function control is possible via the central touch screen or the multi-function steering wheel, and all UK Q3 models are also equipped with new natural-language voice control, which responds to enquiries not only with the benefit of information stored onboard, but also with detailed knowledge from the cloud.
The Audi connect portfolio which is offered on a three-year subscription basis as standard for all UK versions supplements the navigation using the LTE Advanced standard. It provides its services in virtually all European countries via a SIM card which is permanently installed in the vehicle.
These services include the high resolution satellite images of Google Earth, traffic information online, the point-of-interest search as well as information on parking spaces and filling stations, which appear directly on the navigation map – where necessary also with dynamic additional information such as prices and availability.
Audi connect also includes media streaming, online news, access to Twitter and to the email inbox. A Wi-Fi hotspot is also available as an option.
A range of hardware modules supplements the infotainment portfolio. The Audi smartphone interface which is standard in the UK links customers’ iOS and Android cell phones and places their Apple Car Play or Android Auto environment on the MMI display. It also adds two USB ports in the centre console which offer a loading and data function for playing music from a portable media player via the loudspeakers in the car. One of them is compatible with the new type C with fast transfer rates.
Bang & Olufsen Premium Sound System
The Audi phone box which is standard for Vorsprung models permits inductive wireless charging of mobile handsets, while the Bang & Olufsen Premium Sound System with virtual 3D sound – another standard Vorsprung feature which is optional for all other versions as part of the Comfort and Sound pack – can call on 15 loudspeakers, four of them in the instrument panel and one in each D-pillar, to deliver incredible, spatial sound.
The SUV coupé has been designed as a fully-fledged five seater. The supportive front sports seats are upholstered in either full cloth in Sport models, a combination of cloth and Twin leather in the S line, full Twin leather in the Edition 1 or an Alcantara and Twin leather blend in the Vorsprung. The front seats are also electrically adjustable and heated as standard in Edition 1 and Vorsprung models.
The rear seats can be moved 130 mm longitudinally as standard; their backrests are divided into three sections, and their inclination can be adjusted in seven stages.
Behind the rear seats, the luggage compartment can accommodate 530 litres, and when they are folded down up to 1,400 litres is liberated. A standard powered tailgate makes gaining access to this space easy, and for added convenience the loading floor can be used at various levels.
In the first launch phase two engines will power the new Audi Q3 Sportback - one TFSI and one TDI. The four-cylinder direct injection units use turbocharging and are fitted with a particulate filter.
The 2.0 TFSI in the Audi Q3 Sportback 45 TFSI quattro is the most powerful engine with 230PS. The 2.0 TDI provides 150PS in a quattro manual or a front-wheel drive S tronic.
Soon after launch a 1.5-litre TFSI engine will follow in the Audi Q3 Sportback 35 TFSI. It also provides 150PS and features the cylinder-on-demand system, which at low and medium loads deactivates the second and third cylinders to reduce consumption.
Equally importantly, when combined with S tronic transmission it also features another efficiency technology cascaded from the classes above: the mild-hybrid drivetrain (MHEV), which uses a 48 V on-board electrical system. It further reduces fuel consumption by recovering up to 12kW of power during deceleration via its belt alternator starter (BAS) and feeding this into a compact lithium-ion battery.
If the driver lifts off the throttle at speeds of between 24mph and 99mph, the Q3 Sportback 1.5 TFSI MHEV rolls in neutral or coasts with the engine switched off. The engine management system selects one of these functions depending on the driving situation and the operating state. As soon as the driver accelerates, the belt alternator starter restarts the 1.5 TFSI quickly and smoothly.
When accelerating from low speeds, it supports the driver. The start-stop range begins as low as 13mph.
The seven-speed S tronic transmission is the conduit for the power in all versions. The 35 TFSI is also available with a six-speed manual transmission, while the 35 TDI is offered either in front-wheel-drive form with S tronic or with quattro all-wheel- drive and manual transmission. The quattro system is a standard feature of the 45 TFSI engine.
The central quattro component is an electronically controlled hydraulic multi-plate clutch on the rear axle, and it can begin sending a proportion of the torque from the front axle to the rear axle right from the point of turn-in to a bend.
At the limits of performance, the quattro system works closely together with the wheel-selective torque control, which promotes stability by making gentle brake interventions on the inside wheels where quattro drive is installed and the inside front wheel in front-wheel-driven versions, helping to divert drive torque to the outside of the bend.
Whether in town, on country roads or on the motorway the Q3 Sportback is fully composed and in control. Sport suspension is standard on Sport, S line and Edition 1 models, which strikes an impressive balance between absorbency and assured handling.
Vorsprung models are even more adept in all situations thanks to their standard electronically controlled adaptive dampers, the settings for which can be adjusted via the standard Audi drive select dynamic handling system with its Comfort, Dynamic, Efficiency, Auto and Individual modes.
For off-road use, an additional Offroad mode is also available, and the standard hill descent control can help to maintain a preset speed on inclines away from the beaten track. All versions also benefit from standard progressive steering, the ratio of which becomes gradually more direct as the steering angle increases.
In the Audi Q3 Sportback, four systems are included as standard to further assist the driver:
In Vorsprung versions a 360-degree camera also shows the area immediately around the SUV coupé on the MMI display, assisting the driver with manoeuvring, and for an even more ‘hands-off’ approach, the Park Assist function for automatic steering into and out of parking spaces is included as well, leaving the driver with only braking and gear selection to take care of.
The adaptive cruise assist is a highlight of the optional systems. It incorporates the functions of adaptive cruise control, traffic jam assist and active lane assist, including control to the middle of the lane. In this way, it assists the driver with longitudinal and lateral control—substantially enhancing comfort on long journeys in particular.
The list of ultra-modern driver aids also includes cross traffic assist rear for easier reversal out of a perpendicular parking space or an entrance, plus a driver assistance pack bundling together adaptive cruise assist, camera-based traffic sign recognition, the parking system plus, high-beam assist and emergency assist. This pack is included as part of the Vorsprung specification and available optionally in combination with others.