Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Sorry, there are no cars that match your search

Audi Q3 2020 review: Sportback 40 TFSI off-road test

Coupe-style small SUVs have plenty of fans because these vehicles are aimed at striking a balance between sporty good looks and real-world functionality. Whether they actually achieve that goal is usually a matter of personal opinion.

Audi’s Q3 Sportback line-up includes an upper-spec 40 TFSI S Line variant, which we tested for a week, on- and off-road, to see how it fits into the compact SUV market puzzle.

Read on.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

The Q3 Sportback 40 TFSI quattro S line is priced from $61,900 plus on-road costs. 

Standard features in the Sportback range include keyless entry and start, electric tailgate including gesture control, two-zone climate control, leather-appointed seat upholstery, and ambient interior LED lighting. There is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless smartphone charging, and dual simultaneous Bluetooth phone connection

The multimedia system is very user-friendly and getting your phone hooked up and running via the smartphone interface is a simple task. The multimedia system is very user-friendly and getting your phone hooked up and running via the smartphone interface is a simple task.

The 40 TFSI quattro S line also gets 20-inch alloy wheels (five-double-spoke rotor style), privacy glass for the rear windows, 360-degree camera, exterior mirrors with heating, auto-dimming and folding, park assist and high-beam assist, adaptive cruise assist (including active lane and emergency assist), virtual cockpit plus with 12.3-inch high-resolution screen, Audi sound system (180W, 10 speakers inc. subwoofer), S line interior enhancements, flat-bottom steering wheel with shift paddles and perforated leather, heated electric front seats with electric lumbar support, auto-dimming interior mirror and more.

Our test vehicle costs $66,850 (plus ORCs), because, as well as the above features, it has solid special paint (turbo blue, $600), full paint finish ($450), and the $3900 Premium plus package, which includes a Bang & Olufsen 3D Sound System, black exterior styling package (including black exterior mirrors), Matrix LED headlights with dynamic indicators at the front and rear (including headlight washers), ambient LED colour interior lighting package, and panoramic sunroof.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

This is a nice-looking muscular compact SUV – with all of its hard edges and softer lines right where they should be. It’s long and low and so looks dynamic and suitably sporty. But don’t take my word for it, have a look at the accompanying photos.

This is a nice-looking muscular compact SUV. This is a nice-looking muscular compact SUV.

There are also nice extra touches like Sport (S) branding all over the place (including S embossing on each front seat’s backrest), contrast stitching, and pedals and footrest in stainless steel. 

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

How practical is the space inside?

The Q3 Sportback is 4500mm long (with a 2680mm-long wheelbase), 1557mm high, and 1843mm wide. Those dimensions, according to Audi, make it 16mm longer, 29mm flatter, and 6mm thinner than the Q3. 

It feels snug and well-appointed inside without ever seeming cloying and pretentious and there feels like space enough for driver and passengers and everyday gear. Unless, of course, you're gigantic and you pack a lot.

The front seats are comfy and supportive, if a little too firm. The front seats are comfy and supportive, if a little too firm.

Controls are all easy to locate and operate. The multimedia system is very user-friendly and getting your phone hooked up and running via the smartphone interface is a simple task, even for a grumpy ol’ barstool like me.

Storage spaces include the glovebox, a sunglass pocket, two cupholders – and a narrow receptacle for bits and pieces – between the front seats, a centre storage bin, and bottle holder/pockets in all doors. There is also a wireless smartphone-charging spot in front of the shifter, which I instead used to house keys, wallet and pocket rubbish.

The front seats are comfy and supportive, if a little too firm.

The rear seats are pleasant enough, in terms of comfort, with plenty of knee and legroom but with somewhat compromised head room, especially if you’re north of 170cm tall. The rear seat has a flip-down centre arm-rest with cupholders, and top tether and ISOFIX anchorage points on the outer seats.

In terms of comfort, the rear seats are pleasant enough. In terms of comfort, the rear seats are pleasant enough.

The row can be split 40:20:40, and it slides fore/aft within a 130mm range. 

Cargo space is listed as 530 litres (with all seats in use) and 1400 litres with the rear seats folded flat.

  • Cargo space is listed as 530 litres. Cargo space is listed as 530 litres.
  • Fold the seats flat and boot space grows to 1400 litres. Fold the seats flat and boot space grows to 1400 litres.

There is a USB-A and a USB-C charging point in the front of the centre console and two USB-C ports at the rear of it. There is a 12V outlet each for those in the front and in the rear.

The rear cargo area has four tie-down points: two flip-up points towards the front of that area and one fixed point at each rear corner.

What's it like as a daily driver?

It’s a lively, fun drive – it’s a fiesty 1695kg goer – but there are a few minor trade-offs.

Steering – with a variable steering ratio based on the steering angle – is generally spot-on although tending towards too light at times, however, it does maintain a precise feel throughout most phases.

The 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic are a formidable pairing, yielding if not overwhelming power and torque then at least more than adequate measures of both for zippy driving around town and on open roads.

This is a low-slung beast and loves being pushed hard along straight stretches and through corners. All the while, its AWD system provides consistent even-handed grippiness on the road. Wheel-selective torque control adds to that sustained and positive handling flavour.

There are different drive modes – including efficiency, comfort, auto, dynamic, off-road – and each tweaks throttle, transmission and driver-assist systems to suit.

Dynamic is the most fun, allowing the Sportback off its leash a little more than, say, efficiency. There's not a huge difference to the more subdued settings, but it's fun nonetheless.

The suspension set-up – MacPherson strut front and four-link rear – is all-round quite firm, and, as a result, the Sportback’s ride can be a bit jarring over irregular surfaces. And the 20-inch alloys on slim-profile Hankook Ventus S1 Evo2 SUV 255/40 tyres don’t help either.

The 40 TFSI quattro S line also gets 20-inch alloy wheels. The 40 TFSI quattro S line also gets 20-inch alloy wheels.

Driver visibility out of the side windows, but especially back through the rear, is quite pinched. Lucky then, that this Audi’s 360-degree camera system – offering a virtual top view, reversing-camera view, front and rear panorama view, and a kerb-side view – is an effective tool in compensating somewhat for that reduced visibility.

What's it like for touring?

It’s not designed or marketed as a hard-core off-roader, because it isn’t, but the Q3 Sportback will comfortably handle light-duty off-roading on well-maintained gravel and/or dirt tracks in dry weather, as well as driving on wet-weather blacktop. Expect to see more than few of these vehicles heading to the snow during upcoming ski seasons, because the Q3 Sportback is nicely suited to that lifestyle and those driving conditions.

The AWD system is reliably moderated but the driver may also engage off-road mode, which tweaks traction control to better suit traction-challenged driving, and switches on hill descent control and hill start assist, among other driver-assist systems aimed at improving the Q3 Sportback’s performance during lower-speed, reduced-traction situations.

But its 183mm ground clearance, 2680mm-long wheelbase, as well as shallow approach, departure and ramp break-over angles, and road-going tyres on 20-inch rims all combine to prevent the Q3 Sportback from being driven further than it might otherwise be capable of – but that’s fine because it can do any of the stuff that’s demanded of these general-duty off-roaders very well.

Beware though if you pop a tyre while driving along a rural bush road, as this Q3’s packing a space-saver spare.

Towing capacity is listed as 750kg (unbraked) and 2000kg (braked).

How much fuel does it consume?

The 40 TFSI S Line’s fuel consumption is listed as 8.3L/100km on a combined cycle, but I recorded 10.3L/100km after more than 300km of driving, with the majority of that on blacktop but a smattering of travel on mostly well-maintained gravel roads and dirt tracks.

It has a 60-litre fuel tank.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

The Q3 Sportback is nice looking, nice to drive and it’s certainly well-appointed enough inside to please even the most discerning of compact SUV fans.

Ride is firm, handling is pleasant, and the drive experience, if not as wholeheartedly dynamic as you might imagine from something like this, is definitely on the right side of impressive.

Bonus: the Q3 Sportback 40 TFSI can easily manage the light off-roading you'll likely face on the way to your favourite campsite or snowfield. And you'll do it in style and comfort.

$53,900

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

3.5/5

Adventure score

3.8/5

adventureguide rank

  • Light

    Dry weather gravel roads and formed trails with no obstacles, very shallow water crossings.

  • Medium

    Hard-packed sand, slight to medium hills with minor obstacles in all weather.

  • Heavy

    Larger obstacles, steeper climbs and deeper water crossings; plus tracks marked as '4WD only'