Audi Q3 Sportback Road Trip | Update 1: Fuel economy

18 December 2020 - 16:20
The author's Audi Q3 Sportback 40 TFSI Quattro (aka "Blackbird") takes a quick breather in the Karoo.
The author's Audi Q3 Sportback 40 TFSI Quattro (aka "Blackbird") takes a quick breather in the Karoo.
Image: Thomas Falkiner

This week I finally escaped the clutches of Johannesburg. Cabin Fever was starting to set in, so it was a joyous relief to wake up early on Saturday morning and point my “Myth Black Metallic” Audi Q3 Sportback 40 TFSI Quattro in the direction of the Western Cape.

Now in case you don't know the Q3 Sportback is basically a regular Q3 SUV sexed-up with a sleeker, coupé-inspired silhouette. You might lose some rear headroom in the process (that aggressively raked hatch also impedes on boot space) but it does result in a machine that I think is a whole lot better to look at. Especially in the shade of black applied to my test car — a colour that lends an extra air of menace. Complemented by the optional 'Black Styling Package' it's vaguely reminiscent of a stealth military aircraft, which is why I gave my Q3 Sportback the nickname “Blackbird” after the legendary Lockheed SR-71 spy plane.

Sportback treatment gives the Q3 a sleeker silhouette.
Sportback treatment gives the Q3 a sleeker silhouette.
Image: Thomas Falkiner

Two models are currently available: the entry-level 35 TFSI that sports front-wheel drive and a 110kW/250Nm 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol motor or the flagship 40 TFSI that benefits from a brawnier, also turbocharged 132kW/320Nm 2.0-litre four-pot and Quattro all-wheel drive. Both come mated to an S-Tronic dual-clutch transmission. While the 35 TFSI makes do with six speeds the 40 TFSI Quattro ups the ante with seven.

Now whenever I head on down the N1 highway I like to challenge myself and see just how low I can get my average fuel consumption. Not only does this prevent speeding fines but it also leaves more money in my wallet for holiday treats. In 2019 I managed an incredible 5.3l/100km in the Audi A1 35 TFSI — a record that is sure to stand for quite some time.

Optional 'Black Styling Package' adds to the stealthy looks.
Optional 'Black Styling Package' adds to the stealthy looks.
Image: Thomas Falkiner

With its extra heft and sophisticated all-wheel drive system I knew that “Blackbird” would struggle to come anywhere near this figure. Still, with its tyres pumped to their maximum pressure settings and the standard 'Audi Drive Select' system dialled to 'Efficiency' (other options include 'Off-road', 'Comfort', 'Auto', 'Dynamic' and 'Individual'), I managed to get it down to 6.8l/100km by the time I rolled into Colesberg. Unfortunately things went a bit downhill from this point onward thanks to a fairly brisk desert headwind that increased resistance and made that motor work much harder than it ordinarily would have had to.

When I eventually arrived in Cape Town a few minutes after sunset the long-term memory of the trip computer registered 7.5l/100km after our lengthy 1,385km trek. Not too bad considering that Audi claims an official 8.3l/100km on the combined cycle and 7.2l/100km on the extra-urban cycle. If it weren't for that aforementioned headwind I believe I would have achieved a more competitive figure somewhere in the high sixes.

The author managed 7.5l/100km on his 1,385km journey.
The author managed 7.5l/100km on his 1,385km journey.
Image: Thomas Falkiner

So, driven with care the 2.0-litre engine in this stylish SUV can deliver reasonable frugality. On the flipside it also offers peppy overtaking performance. Sure, the 40 TFSI doesn't deliver RS levels of pace but there's enough midrange punch on offer (maximum torque is available between 1,400 and 3,940rpm) to scoot you safely past those long lines of trucks that haunt the N1 at this time of the year. It's also a smooth and surprisingly silent unit. I don't know how Audi managed it but this four-cylinder hardly makes any noise at all. This makes it particularly agreeable on long-distance trips such as this.


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