Audi Q3 Sportback Road Trip | Update 5: Which extras are worth it?

19 January 2021 - 18:44
The Audi Q3 Sportback 40 TFSI sits on the Tradouw Pass in the Western Cape.
The Audi Q3 Sportback 40 TFSI sits on the Tradouw Pass in the Western Cape.
Image: Thomas Falkiner

The festive season holidays shot by suspiciously quickly and as such I find myself back in the Johannesburg 'office'. This also means that "Blackbird" - the Audi Q3 Sportback 40 TFSI Quattro I've been driving over the last few weeks - has sadly returned to the media test fleet (my road trip story will appear in the Sunday Times Lifestyle section shortly).

Mine for just over a month, this sharp-looking SUV proved a most capable travelling companion that was game for almost anything I threw its way. Whether lengthy highway trawls, spirited mountain pass blasts or simply shuttling a boot full of cargo (boxes and boxes of bottles for my mom's little kombucha business) from Stellenbosch through to Montagu, "Blackbird" left a lasting impression as a capable and stylish all-rounder. 

Now while this car's exterior might steal the show it would be a shame to not give the interior a mention. As is the case with all current Audi products I've tested lately the cabin of the Q3 Sportback 40 TFSI Quattro is beautifully pieced together with lots of quality plastics, soft-touch surfaces and intricately detailed inlays. My particular test unit also came loaded with an impressive cache of extras such as customisable mood lighting, enhanced infotainment, a premium sound system and frame-hugging sport front seats. 

Thing is though, a lot of these options slap a sizeable chunk of extra change atop this Audi's already not-so-insignificant asking price of R737,000. Indeed, a quick glance at the specification sheet revealed that "Blackbird" in total wore R175,150 worth of additional equipment. That's a lot of extra dough. Fortunately you don't need to tick all those boxes of temptation. Here's list of the things I would keep and others I could live without.

"Myth Black" metallic paint is a R2,620 option.
"Myth Black" metallic paint is a R2,620 option.
Image: Thomas Falkiner

1: Metallic paint | R2,620

As stealthy as the "Myth Black" metallic paint makes the the Q3 Sportback look, it certainly wouldn't be my first choice thanks to my OCD. Black is a tough colour to keep clean and tends to show every blemish, swirl mark and imperfection with heart-breaking ease. This is why I'd save some money and have mine licked in a no-charge shade of "Ibis White."

Verdict: Skip

2: Audi Phone Box | R5,670

Phone Box gives you inductive charging via a pad located on the centre console and better mobile phone reception via the roof antenna. I don't own a phone that supports inductive charging nor do I really care about enhanced reception, so it's a thumbs-down from me. 

Verdict: Skip

3: Bang & Olufsen Premium Sound System with 3D sound | R9,170

This would probably be the first extra on my list. Whether blasting out music or playing podcasts this punchy sound system engineered by the experts at B&O brings a powerful and immersive audio experience that's worth every cent. A must-have in my opinion. 

Verdict: Specify

LED taillights - along with front LED headlamps - are a R7,560 option.
LED taillights - along with front LED headlamps - are a R7,560 option.
Image: Thomas Falkiner

4: Black Styling package | R7,880

Ticking this box adds dark surfaces to the bumpers and applies gloss-black detailing to the “Singleframe” radiator grille, rear air diffuser and window trim strips. It brings a little extra visual drama to the Sportback's exterior and as such I'm giving it the thumbs-up. 

Verdict: Specify

5: Comfort key in combination with anti-theft alarm system | R7,880

I like comfort and I also like to think that my car will still be parked where I left it after going to the shops. So I guess this one is something of a no-brainer.

Verdict: Specify

6: Power-folding, heated exterior mirrors | R5,780

Do you really need power-folding exterior mirrors ? Really? They might come in handy if you're negotiating a particularly tight parking space but unless you're doing this often they're nothing but an expensive gimmick. I'd be happy to leave them off. 

Verdict: Skip

The optional Technology Package includes the Ambient Lighting Package Plus that unlocks 30 different hues of interior mood lighting.
The optional Technology Package includes the Ambient Lighting Package Plus that unlocks 30 different hues of interior mood lighting.
Image: Thomas Falkiner

7: Leather-wrapped multifunction sports steering wheel | R3,470

It seems odd that this is an option when, in 2021, it should really be standard. 

Verdict: Specify

8: Lane departure warning | R5,970

Nice but not really deal breaker. Best left off unless you're a) in or approaching your golden years or b) suffer from chronic ADD. 

Verdict: Skip

9: Matrix LED headlamps, LED rear combination lamps and headlamp washer system | R7,560

These headlamps provide superior illumination when travelling at night. They also have a clever automatic high-beam system that continuously adjusts the shape of the beam to prevent the dazzling of oncoming traffic. Makes night driving a way less stressful affair. 

Verdict: Specify

The Technology Package enhances the instrument cluster with Audi Virtual Cockpit Plus.
The Technology Package enhances the instrument cluster with Audi Virtual Cockpit Plus.
Image: Thomas Falkiner

10: Panoramic glass sunroof | R20,480

I used this feature once at a drive-in movie theatre in Cape Town. Nuff said.

Verdict: Skip

11: Park distance control in front and rear | R6,180

Maybe I'm getting old but I quite like having park distance these days. Useful when parallel parking in tight city streets.

Verdict: Specify

12: Towbar | R11,030

Designed to not be an eyesore this smart OEM towbar folds neatly behind the rear bumper when not in use. Worth getting if, like me, you often need to transport bicycles. 

Verdict: Specify

An electrically opening and closing rear hatch forms part of the optional Technology Package.
An electrically opening and closing rear hatch forms part of the optional Technology Package.
Image: Thomas Falkiner

13: Rear view camera system | R7,000

Again, I’m getting old and lazy and my back doesn't twist around like it once used to. This feature is also great for checking whether you're far enough inside your garage before blipping the remote to close your automatic roller-door. Convenience triumphs. 

Verdict: Specify

14: Technology package | R35,180

As its name implies this package upgrades the interior with numerous technological enhancements including Audi MMI Navigation Plus, Virtual Cockpit Plus, Audi Connect and Ambient Lighting Package Plus that gives you access to no less than 30 neon hues. If you can stretch your budget then I'd say it's definitely worth adding to your vehicle. 

Verdict: Specify

15: Comfort Package | R22,580

Tick this box and you'll get heated power front seats with four-way lumbar support as well as an electrically opening and closing boot lid. The latter can also be opened by waving your foot under the centre of the rear bumper. Nice to have but not strictly essential.

Verdict: Skip

16: S-line interior package | R16,700

The standout feature of the S-line package is a set of front leather sport seats that help keep your body in check when scything through tight corners. I found them most agreeable as they blend together ample lateral support with good long-distance comfort. Further enhancing the sporty vibes is a black fabric headliner and stainless steel pedals. 

Verdict: Specify

Optional S-line Package bolts in stainless steel pedals and front sport seats.
Optional S-line Package bolts in stainless steel pedals and front sport seats.
Image: Thomas Falkiner

Right, tally up my preference of optional extras and you'll see that you get to a slightly more palatable R112,050 - a total saving of R63,100. Tack this on to the basic list price of the Q3 Sportback 40 TFSI Quattro and you're now looking at R849,050, which is somewhat easier to digest than the R912,150 price tag that came attached to my test car. 


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