Audi Q3 Sportback long-term test

Can a swoopy coupé SUV meet a young family's needs? Our senior photographer is living with an Audi Q3 Sportback to find out...

LT Audi Q3 Sportback compilation

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 8033 List price £39,970 Target Price £37,692 Price as tested £50,665 Test economy 27.3mpg Official Economy 32.1mpg Dealer price now £35,180 Private price now £31,271 Trade in Price £29,609 Running costs (excluding depreciation) £1476.26

18 November – Style? Meet substance.

Us What Car? photographers predictably tend to put practicality near the top of our wish lists when it comes to a new car, so did I bite off more than I could chew when the Audi Q3 Sportback swayed the shallower side of me? Well, no. I needn’t have worried, it is our favourite coupé SUV if you have up to £35,000 to spend, after all.

This is a market lead by style, and I think my Audi Q3 Sportback looks gorgeous, as did everyone else who stopped to pass judgement. The Audi’s tapering roofline slopes down to that lovely curved rear, leading your eyes into the integrated boot spoiler and forward to the wheelarch, it's a nice detail, all set off by my car's Turbo Blue paintwork. It looks significantly different to the regular Audi Q3 without losing much in the way of versatility. 

Will with Audi Q3 Sportback

Yes, it loses some rear head room, but with my son being only fifteen months old, losing a bit of rear head room isn't a massive compromise for us right now. Besides which, Sportback models come with standard sliding and reclining rear seats that fold almost flat. During the working week I could slide the bench, or a section of it (it splits 40/20/40) forward to increase boot space. Unless your children are over 6ft tall or you regularly carry tall passengers, I can't see many reasons for picking the regular Q3 over the Sportback.  

The 45 TFSI petrol engine of my car delivered near-hot hatchback levels of acceleration, and combined with the Q3 Sportback’s light yet accurate steering, made driving the car an easy affair, whether I was threading corners on a country road or spending hours plodding along the motorway.

I’ll be the first to admit that I went a bit mad with the Q3’s options list, but the real test is looking back and seeing if I would spend money on any of them again.

First to get my recommendation is adaptive suspension. Sportbacks receive a slightly firmer suspension tune than the regular Q3, but the ride in comfort mode was pretty good, even on the 19in alloy wheels that S Line trim brings. It kept me comfortable on every journey, and also provided a smooth platform for taking tracking shots.

Audi Q3 Sportback stereo

I also maintain that, despite being a bit pricey, the Comfort and Sound Pack is worth opting for because it gets you luxuries including a rear view camera, heated front seats and an upgraded stereo system from Bang & Olufsen. I’d also recommend forking out for the electrically adjustable lumbar support – something that should be included as standard on a car knocking on the door of £40,000, I think.

The last option I'd recommend are the Matrix LED headlights. They turned night driving into something as bright as day, allowing me to see further ahead than conventional bulbs, thus improving safety and making my journey more relaxing.

However, the optimistically titled Panoramic Glass Sunroof is definitely worth avoiding. Firstly, it isn't panoramic, it's a regular sized sunroof, and it's an expensive option for the limited breeze it brings.

Whilst most of the interior features high quality materials, some parts lower down and on the doors use slightly harder textures that aren’t in keeping with Audi’s brand image. Just as we’ve noted on the latest A3 family hatch, Audi’s one-time lead on interior quality has slipped in recent times.

Audi Q3 Sportback panoramic roof

One thing I did miss was the old rotary style controller for Audi’s MMI infotainment system. Although the touchscreen setup in the Q3 Sportback works relatively well, I'd still prefer the old physical controller, because it means you don't have to take your eyes off the road to perform simple tasks. As more and more cars get touchscreens these days, however, I fear the physical dials and knobs I’d prefer will become a rarity.  

A slight disappointment, too, was the fuel economy. I only managed to exceed 30mpg twice, with my average usually hovering around the mid to high 20s instead. I'm surprised it wasn't better, because the automatic, seven-speed gearbox features a clever coasting function that disengages the engine from the gearbox when you lift off the accelerator.

So if I had to choose again, would I choose similarly? A quick look on the Audi configurator reveals that I could’ve had an Audi A4 executive saloon or even an Audi A6 Avant estate for less money than our Q3 Sportback cost. If the style factor is most important to you, go for the Q3, you won’t be disappointed.  But if I was to cast this particular dice again, I'd be mightily tempted by an A6 Avant. Each to their own.

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