While not particularly fast, the sportier-looking Audi Q3 Sportback delivers plenty of efficiency on the road
Audi Q3 Sportback: The sexier twin The Audi Q3 Sportback is a competent compact with practical space, efficient dynamics and a premium feel PHOTO: LIONEL SEAH

The Q3 Sportback is Audi's sixth Q model.

Audi says the compact crossover, which has a slightly slinkier silhouette, is "coupe-like".

The car shares the same platform as the Q3, but is 16mm longer at 4,500mm, 6mm narrower at 1,840mm and sits 29mm lower at 1,560mm. Its 2,680mm wheelbase and interior dimensions remain unchanged.

Aft of the A-pillars, the car is said to be completely different from the second-generation Q3. It gets bulging wheel arches and a lower shoulder line crease, giving it a more athletic stance.

Inside, the cabin gets an equally sporty treatment. Features include sports seats, flat-bottomed steering wheel, aluminium trim and Alcantara cladding on the dash and door panels.

In spite of its sloping coupe-like roofline, rear headroom has not been compromised much. Passengers up to 1.84m tall will not have their heads brushing the roof lining. Like the Q3, its second row is a tight fit for three.

The Sportback's 530-litre boot capacity is identical to the Q3's. Still the largest in the segment, it can be expanded to 1,400 litres if the 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats are collapsed. The rear seats can also be moved 130mm forward and backwards, while their backrests can be reclined.

As in the latest Audi rides, the Q3 Sportback gets a digital dash, with a 12.3-inch instrumentation and 10.1-inch infotainment touchscreen. The latter is intuitive, if a veritable fingerprint magnet. Call me old school, but I miss Audi's MMI dial controller.

It is reassuring to note that the car comes with a slew of safety devices, including lane-keeping assist, blind-spot warning and frontal collision warning.

There are six drive modes, including off-road. Progressive steering and sport suspension are part of the package.

On the go, the steering wheel is quick, if not particularly communicative. With adjustable dampers, the car's ride quality is well controlled, even when wearing 20-inch wheels (optional).

For all its sporty undertones, the Sportback is not particularly fast, at least not in the 1.5-litre inline-four turbo tested here. Instead, it seems to be efficiency-biased, with cylinder-on-demand (operating on two cylinders under light load conditions) and a 48-volt system to assist starting off.

I managed 6.7 litres/100km - a respectable figure which is not far off Audi's claimed 6 litres/100km for its six-speed manual version.

Its modest engine performance aside, the front-wheel-drive displays predictable under-steer and body roll along a twisty, mountainous route through the Black Forest.

The Q3 Sportback does not deliver a thoroughly engaging drive, but like the Q3, it is a competent compact with practical space, efficient dynamics and a premium feel.

Singapore will get a 1.4-litre turbo with the same output as the 1.5-litre when the Q3 Sportback arrives by the end of next year.