Car reviews - Audi - Q2 - 2.0 TFSI quattro
Chic styling, nice driving position, mostly fine cabin quality, benchmark infotainment system, sweet engine, nimble handling
Room for improvement
Very under-equipped for the price, lacks premium feel, missing rear air vents, lumpy ride quality, loud road noise
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15 Nov 2017
CHOICE is the word of the times in Australia’s highly fragmented new vehicle market. Like the shards of a smashed piece of glass, sales volumes have scattered across showroom floors, split between a greater variety of new models than ever in spite of continuing overall market increases.
For Audi, the way to combat increased choice is with increased choice. Launched locally nine months ago, the funky Q2 small SUV gave buyers an alternative to both the more conservative Q3 that actually plays in the same genre and the likewise formal A3 small hatchback.
Now, the addition of a more powerful model grade, in the form of the Q2 2.0 TFSI quattro, expands the range from two to three and provides buyers a reason not to buy a Mini Countryman S or JCW, or spend extra on a Mercedes-Benz GLA250 that exceeds $60,000 plus on-road costs.
It matters not what Audi buyers select, but merely that they select an Audi. So is this newest model the one to go for?
Remember the film Gone In 60 Seconds? That is about as long as it will take for a Q2 2.0 TFSI quattro buyer to take the small SUV from its $48,500 base price to $60,000 and beyond.
Audi has said the closest rival to the Q2 2.0 TFSI is the Countryman S, but it already costs $2000 more than that rival. Attempt to match the specification of a $56,500 Countryman JCW, meanwhile, and an Audi buyer will need to get very acquainted with the options list.
A $2500 Technik package (with a larger 8.3-inch colour screen to match the Mini’s 8.8-inch unit), $1900 Convenience pack (with should-be-standard keyless auto-entry), $1500 S line interior pack (with Alcantara and brushed aluminium trim), $1500 15-speaker Bang and Olufsen audio (to match the JCW’s 12-speaker Harman Kardon unit), $1500 adaptive suspension, $1400 19-inch alloy wheels, $1050 head-up display and even a $550 digital radio need to be added, for a $61,390 total.
By then the Q2 2.0 TFSI quattro does, however, have some unique advantages over the top Countryman, such as a brilliant Virtual Cockpit colour driver display, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto (disappointingly optional in its rival), heated front seats and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
The 4191mm-long, 1794mm-wide and 1508mm-tall Audi does stop 108mm, 28mm and 49mm before the more family-focused Mini in each respective dimension, though, and unashamedly so.
Its taut, crisp exterior lines suggest beefed-up hatchback more than high-riding SUV, and at least with the addition of LED headlights and tail-lights with sequential indicators as standard equipment, it appears small yet rugged, and nimble yet suitably expensive, particularly with a contrast C-pillar.
Most of the cabin is shared with the A3, meanwhile, which is absolutely a good thing.
The dashboard is packed with lovely soft-touch plastics, and the knurled-silver climate controls rotate with the same beautifully damped precision as the easy-to-use Multi-Media Interface (MMI) dial controlling the infotainment system from the lower console area.
Both centre screen and colour driver display are absolutely the benchmark for their high-resolution graphics and breezy intuition, and the nav’s voice control system is superb. It is just a shame the head-up display beams the speedometer onto a pop-up piece of plastic rather than the windscreen.
Unlike the A3, the Q2 offers funky colour inlays and mood lighting that are thankfully standard. Despite being around the same price as an equivalent A3 2.0 TFSI quattro, however, the Audi small SUV gets hard and unyielding all-plastic door trims, and it lacks rear air vents.
Rear room is fairly limited, as well, the 355-litre boot is average for a vehicle of this type, and Audi even charge a further $450 to upgrade from a 60:40 split-fold rear seat to a 40:20:40 version with a centre armrest and cupholders. The Mini’s sliding back bench is also nowhere to be found.
Possibly a case could be made that more rugged materials and a simplicity of equipment both suit a chunkier SUV application, but not when a premium pricetag is attached.
The 140kW/320Nm 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol four-cylinder engine certainly comes closer to being a match for the sporty styling and lofty pricetag of this small five-door model. It is a sweet, crisp and refined performer, matched to a snappy seven-speed dual-clutch – dubbed S tronic – automatic transmission that in most circumstances quickly adapts to driving conditions.
The combination also matches the 6.5-second 0-100km/h claim of the Countryman JCW, while being significantly more frugal – 6.5 litres per 100 kilometres versus 7.4L/100km. Launch control – which deactivates the electronic stability control (ESC) – must be engaged to come close to achieving that performance, however, and in the real world this Q2 does not feel as hot hatch-fast.
Even so, with a driver’s seat positioned somewhere between that of a hatch and an SUV, plus surprisingly good visibility all-around, the 2.0 TFSI quattro is easy to place on the road and it absolutely makes the most of its small footprint.
The steering is decently medium weighted, and tight and consistent across the ratio, guiding an agile chassis that jumps between tight corners with composure and control whatever the surface. Again, it is no hot hatch in terms of sharpness, but it is athletic enough to be a decently fun drive.
The standard suspension certainly prioritises sturdiness over the serenity of an A3 hatch, however. Ride quality on 18-inch wheels is reasonably firm, but on optional 19s – both were tested following each other – it can turn incessantly jiggly and restless, whether around town or in the country.
Road noise is another issue with the Q2. It not only feels more basic inside than an A3, and firmer, but also the constant rumble of tyres on coarse-chip roads makes this Audi small SUV feel cheaper than its sibling overall.
With a stubby footprint, sassy styling and enjoyable road manners, plus a plethora of excellent optional features and a brilliant infotainment system, there is a case to be made for the 2.0 TFSI quattro to be selected over a small hatchback.
However, beyond a subjective opinion of fun-and-funk factor, objectively the Q2 2.0 TFSI quattro is much less polished inside and on the road than its A3 sibling, and far less spacious or fully featured compared with its Countryman JCW arch rival.
There are so many choices between $45,000 and $60,000 that this fancy five-door deserves to have the specification to stand out.
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