Smallest Audi crossover mixes sizzling looks with impressive driving manners
At a glance
- New price: £20,230 - £30,610
- First small premium SUV from Audi
- Distinct appearance, frugal performance
- Wide choice of engines, drivetrains
- Prioritises posing over practicality
- Tighter boot, rear seats than rivals
- Not much else
The new Audi Q2 is the latest addition to the German luxury car maker’s burgeoning crossover range - and its name tells you all you need to know. Q signifies it’s an SUV, of sorts, and that small number indicates its pecking order below the larger Q3, Q5 and Q7 models.
The fact that it’s an even number ushers in a new era of more sporting crossovers, following the logic of BMW’s X4 and X6. Yet despite something of a coupe-cool aesthetic, the Q2 is aimed squarely at rivals such as the MINI Countryman, Mercedes-Benz GLA and BMW X1.
At 4.19 metres long, the Q2 is 13cm shorter than in-house rival, the A3 Sportback, with which it shares its mechanical underpinnings, yet with 405 litres of luggage capacity it’s got a 25-litre bigger boot when carrying five passengers.
Pricing is very close to the A3 Sportback, too; the cheapest Q2 1.0 TFSI in SE spec will cost £20,230 when UK sales start in November 2016.
Audi Q2 boasts decent choice of engines
The entry-level Q2 is the 1.0-litre three-cylinder TSI turbo petrol with 115hp. Other choices at launch will be a 1.6-litre TDI diesel, also with 115hp, a 1.4-litre TFSI turbo petrol and a 2.0-litre TDI diesel – both with 150hp. Audi has deliberately matched the petrol and diesel power outputs, though the diesels will have more torque, greater economy and higher price tags.
All the engines we’ve tested have suited the Q2’s character well, and even the smallest 1.0 provides decent shove, albeit with a strained three-cylinder thrum. The likely UK bestseller is the 1.4-litre TFSI petrol with 150hp; this is a high-tech engine, able to deactivate two of its four cylinders during low-stress driving in order to save fuel – a process that’s so smooth you’ll only notice it if you’re watching the display on the instrument cluster. Yet it also provides punchy performance and plenty of driving enjoyment.
Impressive new auto gearbox
The S Tronic transmission is a new seven-speed unit that’s very snappy under manual control, although automatic gearchanges don’t always happen when you’d like them to. Many buyers may be better served by sticking with the standard six-speed manual gearbox and pocketing the change. The stick shift has a pleasant action and its gear ratios are well matched, allowing for easy progress.
Most Q2s will be equipped with front-wheel drive and traction is good; we’d question the need for Quattro four-wheel drive (available only on the higher-power engines). Even on 18-inch alloys the Q2 is comfortable on all but the bumpiest roads – regardless of whether you stick with the standard suspension or option the adaptive set-up instead.
If you do go for the latter, selecting Dynamic helps keep roll in the corners under greater control, which suits the sharp steering and generally eager responses of the Q2’s chassis.
The ride gets firmer as a result, but you can always switch back to Comfort once you’ve finished having fun.
There are a number of distinctive elements on the outside that will help you spot the Q2 on the road – notably the square, widely spaced taillights and coloured C-pillar panel, which can be changed at the dealer for a refreshed appearance.
Despite this, the Q2 retains a very Audi presence, a theme that continues into a cabin that is at once clearly similar to the A3 but also slightly different. Items like the door handles are chunkier, the standard-fit central display is fixed on top of the dash like a protruding iPad, and you can pick contrasting colours for some of the trim elements.
This is part of Audi’s effort to increase personalisation choice, but the Q2 remains more conservative than anything from MINI.
Equipment levels are reasonable across the Q2 range, but the bestselling Sport spec is particularly good value, splitting the difference between entry-level SE and range-topping S Line. Standard features on the Q2 Sport include 17-inch alloys, contrasting Manhattan Grey exterior elements, satellite-navigation and cruise control.
You also get Audi Drive Select, which allows you to tailor the car’s responses between Auto, Efficient, Comfort, Dynamic and Individual settings. All Q2s get autonomous braking for added safety and progressive steering to balance low-speed ease with higher-speed driving pleasure – previously this has sometimes felt odd in use, but seems well calibrated here.
The Q2 makes Audi’s premium appeal accessible to a whole new stratum of SUV buyers, and thus almost instantly guarantees success in the current market. It isn’t as playful as a MINI, but many will prefer the Q2’s maturity; it’s still good to drive and certainly better resolved than the Mercedes GLA.