Audi Q3 Sportback long-term test: report 1

Can a swoopy coupé SUV meet a young family's needs? Our senior photographer is living with one to find out...

LT Audi Q3 Sportback front

The car Audi Q3 Sportback 45 TFSI quattro S line S tronic Run by Will Williams, senior photographer  

Why it's here To see if the more style-led Sportback still works as a practical family SUV

Needs to Be comfortable, efficient and function as a mobile office, and have plenty of space for camera kit and the family

Mileage 1682 List price £39,305 Target Price tbc Price as tested £50,665 Test economy 25.9mpg Official Economy 32.1mpg Extras Comfort & Sound Pack (£1195), panoramic glass sunroof (£1150), 19in seven-spoke rotor alloy wheels (£975), Drivers Assistance pack (£800), Adaptive suspension (£750), electric front seats (£675), Matrix LED headlights (£675), Turbo Blue paint (£575), Park Assist (£450), Advanced Key (£400), front sports seats with Alcantara (£400), steel grey Alcantara interior (£375), adjustable Lumbar support (£255), full body-colour paint finish (£250), Virtual Cockpit Plus (£250), Storage Pack (£210), towbar preparation (£155), Audi Phonebox (£150) and Extended Ambient Lighting (£100)

3 January – First impressions

Many moons ago, I had an eccentric art history lecturer who used to try and instil in me the values of the Bauhaus Design School. The term “form follows function” was one of its maxims and has remained lodged in my head ever since. But while I chose an Audi Q3 Sportback because it is, in my opinion, one of the best looking SUVs on sale today, it’s only over the next few months that I’ll find out if it’s beauty backs up – or comes at the expense of – its functionality.

What is clear now, is that in the striking paintjob I’ve gone for (which goes by the rather ’80s-sounding name of Turbo Blue) it certainly isn't a car for the shy and retiring. To my surprise, though, while the colour has attracted a lot of attention from other motorists, that attention has been universally positive.

LT Audi Q3 Sportback rear

Another thing that I can confirm already is that the optional adaptive suspension (a £750 extra) is well worth the money, delivering a more forgiving ride than the regular setup I also tried before placing my order. 

I’m less impressed, however, by the optimistically named panoramic glass sunroof (£1150), which most people would regard as, er, a sunroof. Its glass area really doesn't stretch very far back at all; as a result it’s a lot gloomier in the back of the car than I was expecting, and I worry that my young son Callum will begin to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder – even during the summer months.

Talking of light, the optional Matrix LED headlights are fantastic, and feel like good value at £675. In fact, they’re so powerful that driving on unlit roads is almost as relaxing as driving during the day.

LT Audi Q3 Sportback Matrix LED headlight

I also love my music, and was a little worried that the sound system in my new Q3 Sportback would disappoint after the £3000 Bowers and Wilkins stereo I had in the Volvo V90 Cross Country I ran previously (First World problems, I know). Fortunately, by adding the £1195 Comfort & Sound Pack I’ve ended up with a 15-speaker Bang & Olufsen system that’s punchy enough to satisfy all but the pickiest of audiophiles.

As a bonus, this last option also brings a rear-view camera and heated front seats, two things I’ll always ensure are ticked when ordering a car. The camera certainly adds to safety, especially in conjunction with the system that alerts you if there’s a car about to pass behind you when you’re reversing out of a space.

Sadly, like all the latest Audis, the Q3 Sportback swaps proper infotainment controls for, you guessed it, a touchscreen. Yes, this is pretty responsive and the graphics are richly detailed, but I'd still prefer the old MMI setup, which required you to take your eyes off the road rather more briefly.

LT Audi Q3 Sportback touchscreen

At least you still get separate rotary heater dials. And these are wonderfully tactile, with each adjustment accompanied by a satisfying click.

It should be an interesting few months getting to know the Q3 Sportback. Only time will tell if it stands the test of time, like one of Mies Van der Rohe's stunningly elegant Barcelona chairs – a design that was inspired by Bauhaus principles, but was unashamedly tilted towards an upmarket audience.

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