Audi Q3 Sportback Review: Stylish, but Lacking Dynamics

Audi Q3 40 TFSI Sportback
Audi’s Q3 Sportback is a Fastback Sports Utility that Celebrates its Style Better than its Dynamic Heritage

This turtle on stilts thing is getting out of hand. Seems every man and his dog sells all sorts of sleek ‘coupé-SUVs’ these days. This Audi Q3 Sportback 40 TFSI S Line is another recent arrival worthy of a look-see. So here we go.

First and foremost, a coupé and an SUV all in one? No, they just don’t go! Sure, it’s sleek and sexy. But a coupé has two doors. Not five. Here’s another genre looking for a name — I prefer fastback SUV. So Sportback is actually a pretty dope name for it after all.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand — the Audi Q3 Sportback 40TFSI quattro S line. This is a European spec car – there’s no gas-burning Q3 Sportback in the US, just the e-tron. The all-electric one. Which may be a bit of an acquired taste. The closest US model is the next step up 228 hp 258 lb-ft Q5 45 TFSI S Line wagon.

Said to shake off the booming SUV stereotype in many more ways than one, this is a sleek new version of the good old Q3 wagon we’ve come to know over time. Our baby blue fastback SUV here certainly brings a wedge of style to old faithful. We say its way better looking than its wagon sibling. Never mind one of the cooler looking of all SUVs out there right now. Agree?

Everything from that honeycomb grille to its aggressive bumpers, shiny 19-inch alloys, chunky side skirts, and even chunkier haunches, looks the part. Hell, Audi’s come a long way from its bold move to the Mickey Mouse schnoz way back when! Practically, it’s on the large side for a small SUV. It’s still about an inch lower, two-thirds of an inch longer and half a hair narrower than its wagon kin. All thanks to its coupé aspirations.

Q3 Sportback

It’s Properly Audi Cool Inside

Step aboard and it’s just as Audi-cool. It’s also basically, identical to the wagon inside. That’s all good, because the Q3 sets the segment standard anyway. With Audi’s splendid 10.1-inch voice-controlled haptic touchscreen MMI multimedia center stage on the soft-touch plastic dash’s metallic fascia. And that brilliant multi-faced 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster nestled behind the chunky and racy flat-bottomed paddle-shifter multifunction steering wheel.

The Infotainment packs Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Bluetooth; real-time traffic satellite navigation, and 180W 10-speaker digital radio sound. We really enjoyed the haptic touch which eases our loathing of touch screen system systems. But it but does not eliminate it. Like the touchscreen, the gloss-black air-vent surrounds are easily also fingerprinted and scratched too.

Audi has however happily resisted the temptation to integrate the dual-zone climate controls into this one’s multimedia system in favor of user-friendly knobs. The Sportback gets leather upholstered heated lumbar power sports seats and unique Steel Grey Alcantara dashboard and armrest inserts. There are SD and SIM card readers in the glove box, USB-A and C ports at the center console, two USB-C ports in the rear, and two 12-volt outlets too.

Audi Q3 Sportback

Option-Packed Luxury

This car packed in keyless entry and start, adaptive dusk-sensing LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers, power, heated auto-dimming folding wing mirrors, a hands-free power tailgate, a space-saver spare wheel, and rear privacy glass too.

Safety is also high on the Q3 Sportback agenda. An impressive array of advanced driver-assist systems extends to autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-keep and steering assist, and blind-spot monitoring. Add rear cross-traffic alert, stop-and-go adaptive cruise control, tire pressure monitoring, hill-descent, and hill-start assist, driver attention and high-beam assistants, surround-view cameras, and front and rear parking sensors.

There are six front, side, and curtain airbags, electronic stability and traction controls, ABS anti-skid brakes with brake assist, and electronic brake-force distribution, among others.

Forget Dieselgate, Audi’s A5 TDI is Efficient, Luxurious, and Sporty

Audi A5 40 TDI quattro

Exorcising Myths — Splendid Turbodiesel is Surely the Pick of Audi’s A5 Bunch (Sorry, US buyers.)

Before we dive into the Audi A5 TDI, let’s talk about good ole Dieselgate. That scandal back when VW cheated emissions on its four-cylinder and V6 turbodiesels in most VWs, Porsches, and Audis an effort to dodge carbon tax breaks.

(They say in racing, that you’re only a cheat if you are caught cheating. Well guess what?)

The VW Group ultimately coughed up $15 billion in fines, among other penalties for its carbon sins. And it’s been doing triple backward somersaults ever since in its efforts to atone. VW promises an all-electric future, has exited combustion motorsports and changed its famous VW logo in deference to its guilt-adopted clean persona. Hell, the US branch even cocked up its April fool’s joke when it released that Voltswagen clanger a few days too soon!

But VW Group Diesel Cars are Back

Audi A5 40 TDI quattro

It’s in the context of an all-electric future when this splendid sky turquoise Audi A5 cropped up for test. Strolling around the back, we were astonished to discover that it’s a 40 TDI version. The diesel may not be on the Audi US A5 range, but it certainly is relevant. Set apart by a ‘tauter, more powerful’ look, the latest A5 is highlighted by a broader, flatter chrome-framed titanium black single Audi trademark grill. And this chunkier S-Line has cool optional 19-inch S contrast wheels.

And it got better. Within a few minutes of taking the wheel, we were mesmerized. Agile yet comfortable, this is a very nice car to drive. It doesn’t feel like a diesel engine. And its diesel torque is beneficial to every aspect of its envelope, making it so very easy to drive, too. It’s great on the open road, where that torquey demeanor would make you almost swear that you’re pedaling a S5.

Audi’s A5 TDI is a Specialist Driving Scalpel

A5 40 TDI

Braking is secure, it turns in beautifully, follows though marvelously, with an aplomb that enhances more confidence at every turn. A little hard on the road in regular driving, that’s all very quickly forgotten. This engine, Audi quattro drive, and a fine chassis conspire to deliver a specialist driving scalpel. There’s no diesel clatter — the engine note is great and the cabin silent. Best of all was a 500-mile range with a few fuel gauge segments already accounted for.

All that happens in a sumptuous, luxurious, and efficient style. Audi’s A5 has typically great cabin that makes a few good haptic touch MMI infotainment improvements to enhance ease of use. The highly connected system has smartphone logic and feel and cleaner graphics via an MIB 3 Communication box with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring, free-text input search and natural-language voice control.

Live and integrated Google Earth navigation includes traffic information, destination trading hours, parking availability, and even weather updates. Although certain rivals still offer a little greater versatility in operation, you’d need to try those out and fully understand them to actually know.

Audi A5 TDI Has a Brilliant Virtual Cockpit

A5 40 TDI

Most of that is also controllable via the A5’s chunky multifunction steering wheel, which also selects the brilliant full-HD display Audi virtual cockpit’s three instrumentation views complimented by a head-up display. Our A5 also packed an optional Audi phone box and splendid Bang & Olufsen Premium Sound.

Audi connect including roadside and emergency assistance is however standard. This crucial piece of fresh motoring technology likely saved the life of a friend. He was unfortunate enough to recently suffer a violent crash. Dazed and hurt, he was shocked to hear someone asking whether he was OK, within seconds of impact. It was the response center communicating via the stricken car’s audio system. His cry for help and the urgent response to that call probably saved his life.

But the most amazing aspect of this particular A5, is how brilliantly it merges a fine Audi quattro grand tourer with a brilliant turbodiesel engine. Not surprisingly considering my introduction above, besides appearing in the price list, Audi’s A5 press release late last year made scant mention of this model. Which is a pity.

Because after driving it, I think it’s the pick of the bunch.

A Hiatus of Development

A5 40 TDI

Worst of all, is that while this 188 hp 295 lb.-ft. engine has now made huge strides since the embarrassment its predecessor caused. When its makers cheated its carbon credentials. So future diesel development is stymied by the rush to electrify and satisfy the wan of a misguided green front. Which I believe misses the point completely.

One day, when all is said and done, I’m convinced that the world will come to rue turbodiesel technology’s hiatus of development. Its engine may very well have been the seed of much that carbon activism in the first place. But if this little secret is anything to go by, the car industry and its carbon controllers have clearly missed a trick.

This 40 TDI is the pick of the Audi A5 bunch. The irony just in that, is palpably embarrassing…

Audi A5 coupe 40TDI quattro S line Test Results

  • Engine: 188 hp 295 lb.-ft. 2-litre turbodiesel I4
  • Drive:7-speed automatic AWD

TESTED

  • 0-40 mph: 2.85 sec
  • 0-60 mph: 6.52 sec
  • 0-75 mph: 9.61 sec
  • 0-100 mph: 17.45 sec
  • 1/4-mile: 14.8 sec @ 93 mph
  • 50-75 mph: 5.10 sec
  • 75-100 mph: 7.96 sec

CLAIMED

  • VMax: 140 mph
  • Fuel: 39.2 mpg
  • CO2: 158 g/km

Images: Michele Lupini

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Audi RS e-tron GT Provides a Rather Electrifying Driving Experience

2022 Audi RS e-tron GT

The 2022 Audi RS e-tron GT is remarkably similar to its Porsche twin, but with a few differences in terms of feel.

It’s only been a few months since the 2022 Audi RS e-tron GT was first revealed, stunning all of us with its drop-dead gorgeous looks and promised electrifying performance. But that’s to be expected from what is essentially a Porsche Taycan in a finely tailored suit, as much as 637 horsepower, and a claimed 0-60 time of 3.1 seconds.

Throw in a scrumptious interior, and you’ve got a rather unconventional/conventional EV for folks that don’t like the general quirkiness of EVs. And now we know what it’s like to drive, too, thanks to mega-popular YouTuber Shmee, or Tim Burton as he’s known in the real world.

2022 Audi RS e-tron GT

Burton currently owns a Taycan Turbo S, so he’s more qualified than most to provide some driving impressions of the new Audi RS e-tron GT, too. First off, he points out a few differences between the two cars. “This car drives remarkably similar to the Taycan, but the steering is different, the pedal feel is different, the sound is different,” Burton says. “In terms of driving, it’s a very welcoming car. When you get out on the open road and put your foot down, it just delivers.”

2022 Audi RS e-tron GT

As is the case with all EVs, the RS e-tron GT is certainly not light, weighing in at over 5,000 pounds. But apparently, it hides that mass well on the road. “You don’t necessarily realize that it’s quite that heavy,” Burton says. “It’s a big car, it’s a long car, but it has rear-wheel steering so it still feels quite agile and nimble on its feet.” Burton also notes that even in Dynamic mode, the steering is still pretty light, but that’s to be expected for a plush vehicle like this.

2022 Audi RS e-tron GT

What’s particularly interesting about the acceleration of the RS e-tron GT, however, is just how similar it is to the more powerful Taycan Turbo S. “This feels the same,” Burton notes. “The same kind of speed, the same kind of instant propulsion that shoves you in the back. That difficulty to lean forward when you’re on the throttle.” So what’s different? “Pretty much everything to do with the driving and your interaction from the steering feel to the feel of the throttle pedal and the brake pedal just being that touch softer,” Burton concludes.

Thus, think of the Audi RS e-tron GT as more of a commuter-friendly version of the sharper Taycan Turbo S, though one that presents few compromises in terms of performance when compared to its sportier twin.

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Audi R8 V10 Decennium vs. 2021 Porsche 911 Turbo S

Audi R8 V10 Decennium vs. 2021 Porsche 911 Turbo S

James and Thomas from Throttle House compare the ultra-exclusive Audi R8 V10 Decennium and the all-new 2021 Porsche 911 Turbo S.

We are big fans of the dynamic duo from the YouTube channel Throttle House. In one of its recent videos, James and Thomas get behind the wheel of an Audi R8 V10 Decennium and race the mid-engine supercar against the all-new 2021 Porsche 911 Turbo S.

The webisode is quite an exciting watch, and in addition to a drag race, the video also offers a road and track review. Audi’s contender is the Decennium Edition R8 V10 which will probably be the last of its kind, as the Ingolstadt brand recently announced its plans to discontinue the nameplate and its powertrain. Audi also confirmed that will also stop developing IC engines altogether.

James shared his thoughts on the ride quality of the two models, “We’ve driven both of these today, and we’re testing them for everything we can, and this Audi R8 V10 is without question a better riding car than the 911. It’s more supple, you’re not going to be apologizing to your passenger nearly as much for the shakes and the bumps. He further added, “Where 911 and R8 massively differ is at my foot I have a Lamborghini activation pedal.”

Audi R8 V10 Decennium vs. 2021 Porsche 911 Turbo S

The duo drove down to a track and almost immediately lined the two cars up for a drag race. The much newer 911 Turbo S managed to cross the finish line faster than the R8. This does not mean the Lamborghini-sourced V10 is a slouch as it produces 602 HP of maximum power.

The Audi R8 V10 Decennium also checks off all the boxes when it comes to styling and panache. The car featured in the video is one of only 222 examples of the R8 V10 Decennium editions that were ever produced. The car sports a beautiful Kemora Grey paint job which is exclusive to the models sold in Canada.

Surprisingly, after an entire day of testing, both James and Thomas managed to reach an agreement. “If forced to ignore the far cheaper and still incredible 911 Carrera S and the regular R8 V10, which are almost every bit the daily sports cars these are, our choice between these two is the more character forward, charismatic R8 V10 Performance,” Said James.

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