Driven: Audi Q3 Sportback 40 TFSI

The new slopey Q3 had me pondering an old debate. SUV or Bakkie?

Wait. What?
A car can be all things to all people; a status symbol, a means of escape or a ticket to adventure. But it can also be a financial tether around one’s neck. That’s just a regular car though, what about a bakkie or an SUV? The same of course, if not arguably more so especially if you’re an adventure seeker or weekend warrior, what with that rugged vibe, go-anywhere ground clearance and the look-down-at-everyone vantage point. Thus far this year I’ve had all manners of double cabs, vans and SUVs to service my brood. That’s a boisterous family comprising but not limited to three rowdy lads and a wife, plus our array of bicycles and outdoor gear. And as fate would have it, this includes four bakkies and a pair of VW vans. But then came this, the seemingly compromised Q3 in Sportback profile. While my two-wheeled companions struggled to fit into the load bay of every bakkie I’ve enjoyed, my 29er MTB slipped snugly but quite easily into the Q3 Sportback and this must be commended. It overcame what I honestly thought would be its only downfall, the limiting roofline. Now add to this Audi’s stalwart feature list, sumptuous cabin and safety equipment, not to mention those stylish Ingolstadt aesthetics and we have a car that can satisfy those who have premium as much as a priority as pragmatism. This one is the 40 TFSI Quattro S Line, powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder petrol engine good for 140kW/320Nm. It shifts its own seven speeds to the tune of a claimed 8.3L/100km and will go 220 kph after much prompting. It’ll cross the quarter-mile in a respectable 7.8 sec and for this honour you’ll need to shell out around R740k, sans any extras. And that’s all on par for a fancy, Sporty SUV that can actually perform the U part of that moniker.

But wait, there’s more
See, there are two more reasons why SUVs trump bakkies. I grew up on the Cape Flats where owning a bakkie was a pain in the arse. See, everyone on the ‘Flats was always moving something. I don’t know why, but it was constant. Somewhere. Often. Furniture. Garden equipment. Trash. Yep, where I’m from the keys to a bakkie was a license to get called at inopportune moments to do bothersome things for no personal benefit whatsoever.

And then the second problem with bakkies. Being a photographer and videographer means my vehicle of choice has to look after my expensive gear every time I grab a coffee or run into a shop. And storing my gear behind the seat of a double-cab doesn’t cut it any longer. For that, I need a lockable boot and so again, SUV it is. Sure, I know there’s another solution whereby I get one of those lockable load bins but that just seems like too much trouble.

So in summation
I have several bicycles, two Staffordshire Terriers, and a large family. And even so, I am confident that I could easily fit them and my outdoorsy lifestyle into the constraints of the sloping profile of the Audi Q3 Sportback if I tried. The roofline is not inhibiting, it’s arguably more attractive than the regular Q3, and for the price tag, represents a pretty fair prospect. I’m pleasantly surprised.

Quick spec: Audi Q3 Sportback 40 TFSI quattro S Line
Price: circa R750k
Powertrain: 2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder, 140kW/320Nm, 7-speed automatic
Performance: 0-100kph in 7.8sec, 8.3 L/100 km, top speed: 220 kph

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