2020 Audi Q3 40 Sportback Review: A Healthy Dose of Style
Price & Specs8
Interior & Practicality9
Performance & Economy8
Ride & Handling8
Running Costs & Warranty6
What we like:
  • Crisp and tech-filled cabin
  • A good little mover with a fun chassis
  • Sportback transforms the Q3's look
What we don't like:
  • Why no 169kW Q3 45 like NZ?
  • Rear space cramped for taller folk
  • Sub-par warranty and expensive servicing
7.8DiscoverAuto Rating

Thanks to the original BMW X6 in 2008 and the world’s hunger for SUVs, coupe versions of popular models such as the Mercedes-Benz GLE, GLC and the BMW X3 (which is the X4) now roam streets in masses and despite their lesser practicality, their styling appeals to those concerned to those choosing a car because of the way it looks. Audi has gotten into the game as well and the latest addition to the stable is the 2020 Audi Q3 40 Sportback.

Based on Ingolstadt’s hugely popular Q3 SUV, the Sportback basically chops part of the regular Q3’s roofline off and adds $3,500 to the price. The top-spec 2.0-litre all-wheel drive 40 S Line we’re testing here starts at $62,350 plus on-road costs.

Price & Specs: 8.0/10

While the regular Q3 range starts at $46,950 plus on-road costs, the top-spec 40 Sportback S Line tested here is priced from $62,350 (around $70,000 drive away). While that’s not exactly a small amount of money for what is the second smallest Audi SUV, the Q3 40 does have quite a lot of standard equipment for the money. 

Highlights include 20-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, all-LED lighting, auto lights and wipers, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and start, a kick-to-open electric tailgate, a 10-speaker sound system, heated and electrically adjustable front seats with driver’s memory, a 10.1-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation, digital radio, wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto, wireless phone charging, one USB-A and three USB-C charging ports and a 12.3-inch digital driver’s display

Standard safety kit includes six airbags, low- and high-speed auto emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring with lane change assist, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning with lane keep assist, driver attention monitoring, auto high beam and a 360-degree parking camera.

Despite being a top of the range model, there are options available. Packages include the $3,700 Premium Plus Limited Pack that includes Matrix LED headlights, a 15-speaker Bang and Olufsen sound system, black styling details and a panoramic glass roof – the $3,900 Premium Plus Pack includes all of that plus configurable LED interior ambient lighting. Some items from the packs can be optioned individually – the sunroof ($2,080), 15-speaker Bang and Olufsen sound system ($1,000), the ambient lighting packing ($350) and the black exterior pack ($1,000). Adaptive dampers are $1,700, while a full body colour exterior finish is $450 and metallic paint ranges from $600 to $1,250.

Competitors to the Sportback part of the Q3 name aren’t as plentiful as you’d expect – the BMW X2 is the closest in concept as a slinky-styled version of a small luxo SUV. If we’re talking the regular Q3 however, the BMW X1, Jaguar E-Pace, Range Rover Evoque, Mercedes-Benz GLA and Volvo XC40 come into consideration as well.

While the Q3 may seem expensive, it’s pretty well equipped – especially in comparison with the BMW X2.

Performance & Economy: 8.0/10

While the entry level Q3 35 Sportback is equipped with a 110kW/250Nm 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine, the 40 we tested here comes with a larger 140kW/320Nm 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder petrol engine that’s shared in this tune with the Skoda Karoq Sportline and Volkswagen T-Roc 140TSI. Like those two cars, the Q3 40 also features a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and all-wheel drive as standard. 

The ‘EA888’ engine – which does duty in a plethora of Volkswagen Group cars – is an excellent unit. It’s smooth, features excellent low-end torque and it also sounds pretty great as well. Audi claims a 0-100km/h sprint time of 7.8 seconds, which isn’t too far off hot hatch territory. It’s certainly quicker than the cheaper Q3 35, though we’d like more grunt to compliment the great chassis – a more powerful 169kW/350Nm Q3 45 with the same engine is available in markets such as New Zealand, and we think it would sit between the 40 and the fire-breathing RS Q3.

Standard also is the VW Group’s ubiquitous seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, which Audi calls ‘S-Tronic’. If there’s a weak link in the drivetrain, this is it – it’s just not as smooth or as intuitive at low speeds as the eight-speed torque converter auto in the XC40. At higher speeds however, it’s lightning quick and is excellent when you’re pushing the Q3 along.

Fuel consumption is a claimed 8.3L/100km on the combined cycle, and in purely urban conditions we recorded 9.8L/100km. Blame the Q3 Sportback’s relatively hefty 1,735kg tare mass for that – a larger Range Rover Velar weighs from just 65kg more. Like everything else that uses this engine, minimum 95RON fuel is required. 

Ride & Handling: 8.0/10

Like the drivetrain, the 2020 Audi Q3 40 Sportback also shares its platform with other Volkswagen Group products – in this case it’s the MQB platform that also underpins the Volkswagen Tiguan, Skoda Kodiaq, Audi A3, Volkswagen Golf and so on. That gives the Q3 an excellent positioning for a sold dynamic package and thankfully, it delivers – Audi has given us a surprisingly adept and fun car that moves around its driver. 

The inherent tautness from other MQB products is very much evident in the Q3 Sportback – especially on the huge 20-inch wheels of our test car, which are standard kit. We’d choose a lower spec if all out comfort is your priority but despite big wheels, the Q3 40 S Line rides well. It’s firm, but it’s never uncomfortable and despite the porky weight, the Q3 feels light on its feet.

The Q3 handles well, too. Push it and you can really feel the all-wheel drive system shuffling power around, and the steering is beautifully quick as well. Combine that with the grippy chassis and the Q3 is a pretty fun car to drive – don’t think you need the RS Q3 for a good time. The Sportback’s visibility is just not as good as the regular model however, and on these huge 20-inch wheels, road noise levels can be annoyingly loud, which is disappointing. 

Interior & Practicality: 9.0/10

But while the Q3’s drivetrain can be found in other VW Group cars, its beautifully integrated tech cannot. Sitting in the cabin can initially be a bit of a terrifying experience of massive screens everywhere, but you quickly find that both screens are quite intuitive to use – though you’ll need to carry a cloth in the car to get rid of the fingerprint marks. It’s a real highlight in a segment that includes the over-the-top interiors from Mercedes-Benz, the overused XC40 cabin and the dated BMW X1 and X2. Like Goldilocks, the Q3’s use of tech is just right.

The centre screen is a new 10.1-inch unit that is fully featured with digital radio, wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto, wireless phone charging, multiple USB ports, satellite navigation with live traffic reports and even live weather and so on inbuilt that’s fed with a three-year data plan. While we miss the easiness of the formerly-wheel controlled MMI system, the touchscreen is mounted closer to the driver and screen quality is fantastically crisp. Ahead of the driver is a 12.3-inch unit that can display a full satellite map, as well as all the usual trip computer info – it’s fantastic! 

Quality inside the Q3 Sportback is mostly good – the plastics are mostly soft, bar the scratchy lower centre console trim, and in a VW Tiguan or Skoda Kodiaq, you get cloth trim inserts in the door bins to stop rattles but somehow, not in the Audi. Like its lesser siblings, the Q3’s switchgear quality is fantastic with a really crisp feel no matter what you’re controlling. 

It’s also a relatively practical space as well with large door pockets, big cup holders, a large tray ahead of the gearbox and a nicely sized space under the armrest. Front occupant room is more than adequate, though rear headroom and legroom was tight for my six-foot frame. The rear seat does offer vents, a centre armrest with cupholders and two USB-C inputs and a 12V socket, though strangely no seat back pockets, heated seats or inbuilt sunshades. 

Thankfully, despite an all-wheel drive system and a space-saver spare wheel, the Q3 Sportback’s boot is pretty large at 530-litres (which expands to 1,400L with the rear seats folded – 125L less than the regular Q3) – the BMW X2 offers between 470-1,355L despite not being all-wheel drive, nor featuring a spare wheel of any kind. 

Warranty & Servicing: 6.0/10

Interestingly, while both Skoda and Volkswagen offer five year warranties – as well as Mercedes-Benz and Volvo in the premium space – Audi continues to offer a three-year/unlimited km warranty in Australia, which we think is sub par. Servicing is also not cheap – pay for servicing upfront and a three-year/45,000km plan is $1,610 and a five-year/75,000km plan is $2,630 (both are around $530 per year). The Q3’s service intervals are once yearly or every 15,000km.

That’s expensive in comparison to the Skoda Karoq Sportline, which has the same engine and costs up to $1,400 for five years of servicing, but even the BMW X2 that costs $1,650 for five years/80,000km of servicing. Servicing the Mercedes-Benz GLA and GLB costs between $2,050 and $2,150 for three years – though their intervals are a longer 25,000km, which is helpful if you do a lot of driving. A $1,595 three year/45,000km service plan for the Volvo XC40 is available though no five-year plan exists. 

The 2020 Audi Q3 40 Sportback DiscoverAuto Rating: 7.8/10

The 2020 Audi Q3 40 Sportback is definitely one of the best cars in the luxury small SUV segment thanks to its long list of attributes – it drives well, it’s got an absolute tech-fest of an interior, it’s got a grunty engine, it’s well equipped as standard and unlike a lot of other coupe SUVs, it doesn’t lose too much practicality in its coupe transformation.

There are negatives however – Audi’s three-year warranty really does need an upgrade to five years, its servicing is expensive and while it goes well, we wish the 169kW Q3 45 were offered locally as it would deliver even more joy behind the wheel without having to spend $100k+ on the RS Q3. Those niggles aside, the Q3 remains an excellent choice in its segment and now it’s a lot more stylish thanks to the addition of the Sportback.

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