Sexy Back

Audi’s compact SUV gets a sloping roofline and some visual differentiation to go along with everything else that we loved

By Afzal Rawuther

Sometimes, automotive designers make odd choices based on intuition more than anything else, and somehow, they click. The Coupe SUV is one such choice. Marry a sloping, sharply raked roofline to the rear of an SUV, and voilà! You have got yourself an SUV that has an attractive, sporty profile. But it compromises the headroom for rear passengers. When you think about it, it shouldn’t work. But it does, and customers love them — so much so that every luxury brand went ahead and made one. The Audi Q3 is a great car for the price. There is no doubt and I love it to bits. With the Audi Q3 Sportback, the brand has decided to give the Coupe SUV treatment to one of its smaller SUVs, and the two of us got well-acquainted over a couple of days.

To its credit, Audi has reserved the S-Line styling package for only the Sportback variant, resulting in more visual differentiation than just the sloping roofline. They include the more aggressive front and rear bumpers with silver inserts around the grille and lower down in the bumper as well. The grille itself features a hexagonal mesh pattern as opposed to the vertical slats on the regular Q3. Then there’s the gorgeous Turbo Blue paintjob, which looks great when paired with the new five spoke, 18” alloys. Despite these exciting styling cues, I am not sure if the roofline itself works as well as it does on Audi’s larger SUVs. The bumper feels a bit too chunky for an SUV of this size, and the proportions seem a little unnatural to me. However, I can confirm that the Q3 Sportback does turn a lot of heads.

As you make your way inside the cabin of the car, you’ll be pleased to find that Audi haven’t tinkered with the cabin at all. It lacks the flair of some of its competitors, but it is very well-built and luxurious. Materials are all high quality, and Audi — unlike some of its peers — have retained tactile physical switches and controls. The front seats are powered, there’s twin high-res infotainment and instrument console screens, a gesture-controlled powered tailgate, wireless phone charger, a sunroof and a pretty good 10-speaker sound system on the features list. The seats themselves, both at the front and rear, are very comfortable and have good support all around. And yes, the headroom at the back is compromised. I am 6 feet tall, and there isn’t as much space between my head and the roof lining as I’d like. Egress for taller passengers will include ducking in slightly. But I think it is a price most people would be willing to pay for the added style — if you are tall, just drive or call shotgun, I’d say. Space in the boot remains identical to the regular Q3, but it isn’t as usable here owing to the roofline. Still, it is a very large boot and shouldn’t be a concern.

On the powertrain front, there is no question that the Q3 has plenty to offer — 190 PS and 320 Nm from the 2.0 TFSI engine, which enthusiastically delivers these numbers with plenty of refinement. Together with the 7-speed DCT and paddle shifters, the engine delivers thrills in the city and at triple digit speeds, with Audi’s Quattro AWD serving as the cherry on top. The steering wheel weighs up as you switch between the modes, giving you a lot of confidence in Sport mode while being easy to maneuver in Comfort. The brakes too offer impressive stopping power and a good amount of feedback. The Q3 Sportback rides very well over bumps/potholes and also stays composed at highway speeds. A short sprint on the Mumbai-Pune expressway and onwards to Lonavala confirmed that the car is dynamically just as good as the regular Q3.

At Rs 51.43 lakh (ex-showroom), the Audi Q3 Sportback is priced at a premium of Rs 1.04 lakh over the Technology trim of the regular Q3. That isn’t much of a premium at all, when you consider the dramatic difference in road presence and looks that it comes with — for me, the blue paint in itself is a good enough reason. After all, this is a very well built, feature-laden, luxurious and great-to- drive SUV to begin with. Everything else is an added bonus.

Reproduced with permission from Mansworldindia.com

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