You’ll know by now what happens when a manufacturer tacks a suffix like ‘Sportback’ on to the tailgate of one of its SUVs, so the Audi Q3 Sportback, Audi 's latest range extension, won't be a great shock.
There’s a shift that occurs; one that sees focus move ever so slightly away from functionality (which is surely what an SUV is all about, even a compact one) and towards a more abstract concept altogether: the aesthetic.
So you get some sporty new design traits that are intended to make the car look even more athletic than it really is. The Audi Q3 Sportback, for instance, has a lower shoulder line and slightly swollen arches for a more muscular, assertive look. There’s also an octagonal grille so large it’d probably work as a regulation UFC arena. And finally, there’s the trademark roofline that slopes away towards the top of the rear light housing in a fashion not unlike that of an overbred Alsatian’s spine.
Usually the resulting product isn’t a particularly pretty one. But credit to Audi, the Q3 Sportback’s styling is rather well executed - by the standards of the class, at least. Still, it’s tricky to shake the feeling that it’s yet another car designed to answer a question nobody was really asking in the first place.
Audi will, of course, tell you otherwise, and no doubt has plenty of market research to back its claims up. And to be fair, at least it’s a shade more interesting to behold than yet another derivative, identikit compact SUV.