Audi Q3 Sportback SUV - Engines, drive & performance
Not as fun as the BMW X2 but the Audi Q3 Sportback offers a refined and mature driving experience
The Audi Q3 Sportback was designed to look and feel upmarket and refined, and this extends to the driving experience. It’s sophisticated and deeply competent but lacks the sparkle of the best-driving SUVs. If you are considering upgrading to the Q3 Sportback from a Peugeot 3008 or SEAT Ateca, you might be a little disappointed, although the higher quality and elegant feel are welcome.
It’s by no means bad to drive; it handles reasonably well, and front-wheel-drive versions are agile. Its steering is light and doesn’t offer much feel, so you feel a bit detached from the experience, but Audi is aiming for comfort rather than sportiness. There’s not much body roll, unlike in some SUVs, and the ride is supple and comfortable.
The BMW X2 can’t match the Audi’s refinement, even though the Q3 Sportback comes with sports suspension as standard. Its biggest 20-inch wheels make it a bit less composed on our potholed road, but you can rectify this by choosing the adaptive dampers. They’re standard on the Vorsprung model and optional elsewhere, and offer an even better ride. We’d stick with slightly smaller wheels and the standard suspension.
When the car feels so polished, it’s a real shame that the seven-speed automatic gearbox feels like it needs some adjusting. The pause between gear changes can be frustrating, especially if you’ve used the paddles to change gear yourself. We found the gearbox holds on to gears for too long, strangling the engine when you put your foot down.
Audi Q3 Sportback diesel engines
There are two diesel choices when speccing your Audi Q3 Sportback, badged 35 TDI and 40 TDI. These are two versions of the same 2.0-litre engine, producing 148bhp and 187bhp respectively. The former takes just over nine seconds to cover 0-62mph, regardless of whether you choose four-wheel drive or not, while the 40 TDI manages that acceleration in around eight seconds. Unlike the 35 TDI, the 40 TDI is only available with four-wheel drive and the automatic gearbox.
The Audi Q3 Sportback gets most of the Q3’s petrol engines. The range-topping 2.0-litre 45 TFSI petrol engine is the fastest one available, and its 227bhp, auto gearbox and four-wheel drive means it zips from 0-62mph in just over six seconds - almost as quick as many hot hatchbacks.
From October 2019, a 1.5-litre petrol engine has joined the line-up. It’s called 35 TFSI and will produce 148bhp. Accelerating from 0-62mph will take the same amount of time as the 35 TDI.
If you choose the new 1.5-litre petrol engine with an automatic gearbox, Audi will include 48-volt mild-hybrid technology. Its fuel-saving measures include cutting the engine when you haven’t got your foot on the accelerator.