- Doors and Seats
- Engine Power
- Ancap Safety
Audi’s slick Q3 Sportback proves you don’t need to spend big dollars to make a stylish impact.
- Striking design-led appearance
- Boot and backseat unimpeded by Sportback styling
- Easy and breezy to shuffle around town in
- Manual seats a mismatch with rest of interior
- Looks swift, but isn’t really
- Road noise picks up on certain surfaces
For those brands and models that offer a ‘regular’ SUV and a coupe-inspired variant, I tend to favour the design of one over the other. In the case of the 2021 Audi Q3, I can’t decide between the solid-looking Q3 SUV or the more chiselled Q3 Sportback.
Perhaps most tellingly, in the case of the Q3 Sportback 35 TFSI S Line seen here, the entry-level model is, in fact, a sharp looker – without needing to spend big as you move up the range.
Priced from $51,800 plus on-road costs, the Q3 Sportback 35 TFSI is $3500 more than the equivalent SUV version, but the SUV-bodied 35 lacks an S Line styling option, while the Sportback 35 includes it, bringing larger alloy wheels and full painted bumpers.
Under the bonnet is a 1.4-litre turbo engine with 110kW and 250Nm sending power to the front wheels via a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
It’s those arresting looks that really matter, though, contrasting gloss bumper accents, 19-inch alloy wheels, a single-sweep roof line from front to rear, and Audi’s chiselled shoulder line strike the right note.
Offset by crisp front and rear LED lighting, and black pack styling, the Q3 Sportback has a lot of presence for a small SUV.
Add in the optional Pulse Orange paint and 19-inch alloy wheels as fitted to this test car, and you have a very eye-catching compact SUV.
Like the outside, the interior of the Q3 Sportback carries a chiselled styling theme. Not overly adorned, but not entirely minimalist, the look is confident and technical.
As far as criticisms go, there are actually very few. Despite the lower, more dynamic roof line, there’s still decent head room. Getting in and out is a breeze, and even the rear seats are surprisingly generous.
Unlike some of Audi’s more expensive models, the Q3 sticks with just one interior touchscreen for major infotainment and vehicle settings. Supplementary systems, like climate control and drive systems, are still handled by physical buttons and dials – and that’s a good thing.
The seats are leather-trimmed but manually adjusted. Given the techy sophistication of the rest of the interior, that feels a little out of sync with the Q3’s aspirations, but powered seats and seat heating are optionally available, or included on the more expensive Q3 40 TFSI model.
The fit and finishes of the interior are precise and sturdy, plus storage within is nicely practical, with a phone charging tray within easy reach, big door bins, and covered console storage. The rear seats get their own air vents, and there are two USB points in each row of seats, but the seatbacks lack map pockets.
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Better still, under the standard powered tailgate there’s 530L of space. That’s the same as the regular Q3 (to the parcel shelf). If you plan on carrying big, bulky items, the Q3 SUV might be a better bet, but for day-to-day use the Sportback suffers no real setbacks.
|2021 Audi Q3 Sportback 35 TFSI|
|Boot volume||530L seats up / 1400L seats folded|
Infotainment and Connectivity
With a new-generation interface, the infotainment system in the Q3 stands out compared to earlier Audi models. If you’re moving up from an older Q3, you’ll immediately notice that the console rotary dial is gone, but in its place is a much larger and crisper screen.
The previous fold-away function may be gone, but tech has moved up, with typical stuff like digital radio, wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto connectivity, Bluetooth, and integrated navigation accessible through the 10.1-inch touchscreen.
There’s a suite of available online functions too, allowing you to connect your phone and check in on your car remotely, or access traffic, parking, weather and a host of Google services from the infotainment system.
A 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster can be configured in a multitude of ways to display drive data, information or maps. That’s all backed up by two front and two rear USB-C charge points, and a wireless charge pad to keep your devices topped up on the road.
All variants of the Audi Q3 (outside of high-performance RS Q3 models) carry a five-star ANCAP rating dated to 2018 – in line with the vehicle’s European launch.
The Q3 scored 95 per cent for adult occupant protection, 88 per cent for child occupant protection, 76 per cent for vulnerable road user (pedestrian) protection, and 85 per cent for safety assist systems.
Standard equipment includes six airbags, Audi Pre-Sense autonomous emergency braking from 5-85km/h for cyclists and pedestrians, or up to 250km/h for vehicles, driver attention monitoring, adaptive LED headlights, and tyre pressure monitoring.
Driver assist tech includes lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, lane-change warning with blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear park sensors, and a rear-view camera. Optional adaptive cruise control, 360-degree camera, and automated parking assist are also available.
Audi perseveres with a three-year warranty, whereas brands like Jaguar and Mercedes offer five, as do most cheaper mainstream brands. Five-year service plans are available as a package purchase for $2970, with services due every 12 months or 15,000km.
Claimed fuel consumption is 7.3 litres per 100 kilometres, but in purely urban use we saw that spike as high as 10.4L/100km, though with some open-road driving the Q3 settled down to mid-eights (8.4L/100km).
|At a glance||2021 Audi Q3 Sportback 35 TFSI|
|Warranty||Three years / unlimited km|
|Service intervals||12 months / 15,000km|
|Servicing costs||$2970 (5 years)|
|Fuel cons. (claimed)||7.3L/100km|
|Fuel cons. (on test)||8.4L/100km|
|Fuel type||95-octane petrol|
|Fuel tank size||58L|
Think of the Q3 35 TFSI model as the affable about-towner of the Q3 range.
With a 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine under the bonnet, outputs are a decent but not mind-altering 110kW and 250Nm. That latter torque figure is the crucial one, and reflects the ability to hustle the car’s weight and provide rolling acceleration around town.
The engine drives through a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission to the front wheels.
Incremental improvements along the way mean the dual-clutch auto, while still occasionally lightly shuddery at low speeds, is now very well behaved. You can happily drudge through crawling traffic or make a snappy getaway from the lights.
It’s not one for demanding drivers, but it’s pleasantly capable where it matters.
The brakes are quite responsive and bite early without too much pedal pressure – something that might take some getting used to if you’re coming out of something less alert.
Steering is super light. Again, reflective of its around-town capabilities. It’s not nervous on the highway, but perhaps a little more weight at high speeds would be nice.
With big wheels and relatively low-profile tyres, ride quality can be a little jittery. European cars devised for mostly flat and smooth roads don’t always love Australia’s patchy road surfaces.
The same goes for road noise. Usually refined, but find the right (or wrong) surface and the tyres can kick a decent amount of noise into the cabin. For the most part, though, wind and engine noise are nicely muted.
Around town, the Q3 Sportback is fine. It’s a little terse but not unlivable. Don’t be surprised if the odd surface change or pothole rattles aggressively through the cabin, though.
|Key details||2021 Audi Q3 Sportback 35 TFSI|
|Engine||1.4-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol|
|Power||110kW @ 5000-6000rpm|
|Torque||250Nm @ 1500-3500rpm|
|Drive type||Front-wheel drive|
|Transmission||Six-speed dual-clutch automatic|
|Power to weight ratio||69.8kW/t|
|Tow rating||1800kg braked / 750kg unbraked|
Ultimately, the 35 TFSI engine may not be the pick for drivers keen on a bit of underfoot authority, but the all-wheel-drive 40 TFSI and its more powerful 132kW/320Nm engine fit that bill where needed.
The interior comes well stocked, modern and spacious, offering flexibility for those times you need rear seat or useful boot space – without sacrificing style or too much in the way of luxury.
Primarily style-focussed, the Q3 Sportback 35 TFSI grabs attention for all the right reasons. All the more so in this car’s Pulse Orange – but equally as slickly styled if you were to opt for blue, red or one of the wealth of silver, grey or black tones available.
While the positioning of fastback or coupe-style SUVs, like the Q3 Sportback, isn’t always clear, this one is able to hit plenty of high notes.