How much difference does a bit of design flair make? Audi’s new coupe-SUV Q3 Sportback is a compelling case viewed in the company of its more conventional wagon sibling.
More than just a tapered roofline, the Sportback is a longer, lower and wider twin, but it’s really the fresh lines, curves and proportions that make for striking style transformation.
In effectively mid-spec 40 TFSI Quattro S line form – nestled between the entry front-drive ‘35’ and high-performance RS versions – our test subject targets buyers after big impact and nice features on a palatable mid-$60,000 budget.
In short, the ’40 S line’ is Audi’s idea of the utilitarian small car you ought to lust after. It brims with much of the goodness you want in an upmarket urban runabout and augments it with a veneer of sportiness and pace – well rounded, without the ear-pinning excess of the manic RS that, at around $90,000, wants for an almost 50 per cent price premium.
Its name is long-winded, but if you’re a lost in jargon our subject is Audi’s small SUV (Q3) coupe (Sportback) in ‘regular 132kW’ 2.0-litre (40) turbo petrol (TFSI) all-wheel-drive (quattro) with an extra dose of sport accoutrement (S line). Overseas markets including New Zealand also get a more powerful ‘45’ version, though Aussies shouldn’t hold their breath too long for that one…
Still, from its classic ur-quattro-inspired body creases to the honey-I-shrunk-the-Q8 tech-laden cabin, the Aussie-release 40 S line certainly embodies its role in sharply-dressed presentation.
How much does the Audi Q3 Sportback 40 TFSI quattro S line cost?
The 40 TFSI S line starts from $61,900 before on-road costs. That’s a cool $12,000 pricier than the entry ‘35’ version and $5450 more than the fancier 35 Launch Edition, both turbo 1.4 powered and front-wheel driven.
The more seductively styled Sportback body format is a $2400 step over the 40 S line wagon.
By comparison, BMW wants a fair bit more – a tenner under $70,000 – for its all-paw coupe-esque X2 M35i xDrive. The upcoming GLA250 AWD is, at $66,500 before on-road costs, closer if slightly pricier than the Audi.
Volkswagen’s T-Roc deserves a mention, too, as many shopping for German premiums tend to glance Wolfsburg’s way, where you can find its more powerful (140kW) offering for far less investment (around $43,000).
Our test car fits the sole big-ticket package, the $3900 Premium plus, that adds Bang & Olufsen 3D sound, a blackout exterior grille/trim/mirror colour pack, Matrix LED headlights, dynamic front indicators, a not-quite-panoramic sunroof and 30-colour LED interior mood lighting to the already fulsome standard equipment list.
Further, the Smurf… I mean Turbo Blue paint costs $600 and full-body colour coating adds a further $450, edging the outlay up to $66,850 before on roads.
What do you get?
The 40 S line variant piles on the standard goodies, as any small car wanting $62,000 sans options should.
Outside, 20-inch wheels, electric heated/folding mirrors, full LED lighting, adaptive headlight functionality, dynamic rear indicators, rain sensing wipers, front and rear sensors and an electric tailgate with gesture control are par for the course. Of course, the standard S line adds sportier exterior styling tweaks.
Inside, the 40 S line gets keyless go, 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit digital instrumentation, 10.1-inch MMI navigation plus touchscreen infotainment, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, inductive phone charging, DAB+, four USB outlets, a flat-bottom wheel, fully electric sports seats with leather-appointed trim, two-zone climate control, rear seat tilt and slide, a frameless auto-dimming mirror, and a space saver spare.
There’s a host of nice addenda in the details, such as Alcantara dash and door trim elements, as well as aluminium brightwork, including the loading sill protector in the boot.
Smarts wise, techy features such a 360-degree camera (with a forward-view parking camera), kerb-side parking assistance, adaptive cruise control, and hill descent control are inclusive.
Adding the Premium plus package to 40 S line really results in a want-for-little package and you have to nitpick to find omissions beyond the fact that it doesn’t fit adaptive damper smarts.
Is the Audi Q3 Sportback 40 TFSI quattro S line safe?
Though Q3 wagons and Sportbacks have distinctively different bodywork, all versions of both – with the exception of RS models – have received a common 2019-stamped five-star ANCAP rating.
The breed scored 95 per cent adult occupant and 88 per cent child occupant scores, while vulnerable road user protection and safety assistance were assessed as 76 and 85 per cent respectively.
All-speed autonomous emergency braking and a brace of lane support systems form the crux of the active surety, though while Q3 fits ‘brace for impact’ front pre-sense functionality it doesn’t feature the rear collision preparation feature found in the Q8.
The super-clever exterior lighting and elaborate multi-view camera arrangement both enhance driver awareness rather than (simply) providing safety nets at the onset of trouble. And we found the safety net gear – AEB, lane keeping – intuitively calibrated and unobtrusive in real-world assessment.
The Q3 fits front, front-side and curtain airbags, as well as ISOFIX child seat mount points outboard in row two.
What is the Audi Q3 Sportback 40 TFSI quattro S line like on the inside?
For my money, the 40 S line has two clear highlights. The first is how it looks on the outside: more svelte in profile and more angular and muscular at any viewing angle than the Q3 wagon, the lift in appearance the Sportback form brings is well worth the modest $2400 premium.
The second highlight is interior presentation. The combination of exterior or interior panache is both the Q3 Sportback’s big drawcard and it’ll undoubtedly be the dealmaker for some buyers.
It is an elaborately-styled cabin space, a sort of sportier and slightly stripped-back format compared to that of the opulent Q8. Its myriad surface angles, including touchscreen and controls, are oriented towards the driver, a bit of a theme pinched from R8 and TT. There’s not much SUV-ness about the interior vibe at all.