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Audi Q3 Sportback review: Your Q to shine

The Audi Q3 Sportback mixes sporty styling with the practicality of a Sport Utility Vehicle

The Q3 Sportback is an acceptably versatile car, and it's commendable how Audi made it look so sharp without imposing serious impracticalities on it.

The digital displays and shiny touchscreen make it feel far more contemporary than any of its rivals.

Eimeldingen, Germany

SUPPOSE you always promised yourself a sports car, but then some diaper-soiling lifestyle torpedoes came along to blow that dream clear out of the water.

If that sounds like you, rejoice (or at least, try not to despair): Audi has just the thing for you.

It's called the Q3 Sportback, and it marries sporty looks with the practicality of a Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV).

That SUV is the new Q3 (no Sportback), an admirably useful car with a roomy cabin for five and space for plenty of stuff in the boot. It's already in showrooms here, but you'll have to wait until the end of next year for the Sportback version.

Such coupe-SUV mash-ups have been done before. BMW has three of them (the X2, X4 and X6) while Mercedes has a couple (GLC Coupe and GLE Coupe). Audi has another one in its lineup (the Q8), and even Porsche couldn't resist getting in on the act (with the Cayenne Coupe).

For mass-market examples, look to the Honda HR-V and Toyota C-HR. Whatever it is, the recipe is a familiar one: take the elevated running gear of an SUV or crossover car and give it a slick silhouette.

Accordingly, to turn a regular Q3 into the Sportback, Audi designers made it a bit longer and chopped down its roof by 29mm.

"This is not a coupe, but a coupe-ish SUV," Seulah Park, an exterior designer for Audi, told The Business Times.

"This is combining an SUV which is sporty and dynamic with a coupe-ish roof, which has a more elegant, emotional feeling."

The Q3 Sportback also has a more intricate front grille than the regular Q3, and comes with sport suspension straight out of the box (though you can opt for normal suspension if you want a softer ride).

For all that, the Q3 Sportback isn't particularly sporty to drive. That's despite a number of strengths. It resists body roll admirably while providing a surprisingly composed ride over bumps. It can shrug off being thrown into corners well enough, and makes it easy to judge how much you can lean on the tyres to wring a sustained squeal from them.

In fact, if my wife were as forgiving of bad or stupid behaviour as this car's chassis is, I'd have begged her to marry me after our first date.

Yet, for some reason, the Audi just isn't all that much fun to punt around. Some of that lack of sparkle might be down to the engine. BT tested a 150 horsepower, 1.5-litre version with a four-cylinder turbo and a 48-volt mild hybrid system designed to save a bit of fuel. Thus endowed, the Q3 Sportback gambols along with acceptable gaiety, but no real vigour.

Singapore will likely get a 1.4-litre version of the car with the same amount of power (but without the fuel-saving tech), so don't expect fireworks. That's what your marriage is for, anyway.

Still, the Audi is a tempting car in other ways. Inside, the digital displays and shiny touchscreen make it feel far more contemporary than any of its rivals. Not all the plastics feel expensive, but the Q3 Sportback has a cabin that looks the part of a junior premium car's interior. If you expect more than this, then you should also expect to pay more.

The Q3 Sportback is even practical. The boot is big and regular in shape, and the rear seats slide and recline so you can sacrifice cabin space for cargo room, or vice versa.

On paper, the boot has the same 530-litre capacity as the regular Q3, whose tailgate is much more upright. If it seems unlikely that both cars can carry the same amount of stuff, it's because it is; car companies only measure load carrying ability up to the windowline.

That being so, if you do tend to fill your car's boot regularly, or if you intend to use your Q3 Sportback to facilitate some sort of gear-driven hobby, then you'd do well to poke around the Audi's caboose end in person, instead of relying on the specifications.

That aside, the Q3 Sportback works well if you're a family man who now has need for back seats in a car, maybe because, who knows, you once used the back seats of another car for something much naughtier altogether?

Whatever it is, full-grown adults fit quite nicely into the rear of the Q3 Sportback, so it's unlikely your children won't.

In fact, for a "coupe-ish" SUV, it's pretty accommodating back there, so not only would three of your offspring occupy the back seats without problem, they should also inhabit the space without complaint. (Although, since when has having nothing to gripe about ever stopped teenagers from complaining anyway?)

If push came to shove, however, the regular Q3 would feel more airy and spacious inside, simply because of its higher roofline and larger window area. But that doesn't stop the Sportback version from being an acceptably versatile car, and it's commendable how Audi made it look so sharp without imposing serious impracticalities on it.

That makes it easy for you to choose a Q3 Sportback over a Q3 for no other reason than that you prefer the way it looks. And if your kids don't like the marginal loss of rear headroom, just tell them you're paying them back for destroying your sports car dreams.

Audi Q3 Sportback S line 1.5 TFSI

Engine 1,498cc, inline 4, turbocharged

Power 150hp at 5000-6000rpm

Torque 250Nm at 1500-3500rpm

Gearbox 7-speed automatic

0-100km/h 9.3 seconds (estimated)

Top Speed 205 km/h (estimated)

Fuel Efficiency 6L/100km (estimated)

Agent Premium Automobiles

Price S$180,000 with Certificate Of Entitlement (estimated)

Available Late 2020