Car reviews - Audi - Q2 - range
Quirky, modern design, packaging, driving position, ride comfort and handling
Room for improvement
Diesel turbo lag, no rear air vents, requires a couple of options packages to get the best out of the car
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23 Feb 2017
AUDI is aiming squarely for younger buyers with its new model, the Q2, even going so far as to use the millennial-baiting “#untaggable” line for its marketing campaign.
The German car-maker says the Q2 can’t be defined, so we thought we would define it for you. It is a crossover-style high-riding hatch targeted at urban folk. There you have it. It’s not a new formula, but it is one that works.
The Q2 doesn’t have many direct rivals in the premium space, but Mini’s all-new Countryman that arrives next month is the most obvious challenger.
Despite a price that starts at $41,100 (plus on-roads), which is dangerously close to the base Q3 ($42,900) that shares the same engine, Audi thinks the two models will appeal to different crowds.
The Q3 to people looking for a more traditional SUV shape and look, and the Q2 to a slightly younger audience that are stepping up into a premium car for the first time.
After a day in the Q2, we think Audi might be right on the money.
The Q3 is likely to be replaced next year and is underpinned by the old PQ35 platform, whereas the Q2 is built on VW Group’s MQB platform used for the Audi A3, VW Tiguan and Passat and a number of other models. And it shows.
In the metal the Q2 has a boxy design, but it is a fresh look for the brand and introduces some new elements that are likely to show up in other models. Audi calls it polygonal design.
The contrasting colour of the C-pillar (you can choose body coloured too) is a cute touch and the bold octagonal ‘single-frame’ grill looks handsome surrounded by Audi’s latest headlight signature.
The look will do well to attract the attention of new buyers in the sought after youth market.
Inside, the Q2 has a typical Audi small car vibe, albeit modernised thanks to the use of the latest underpinnings.
It doesn’t have the same plush feel as something like an A4 but it also starts from a much lower base price, so it lines up more with the A1 or A3 in that sense. Not a bad thing.
The base 1.4 TFSI Design ($41,100 plus on-roads) has hard plastics on the doors but again, the Q2 is built to a price.
Controls are easy to use and the Audi MMI system and central controller continues to be one of the best in the business. Benz could learn a thing or two from this system.
Other appealing elements inside include the well thought out design of the door handles and the interior lighting package which lights up panels across the length of the dash.
Seats in both variants are supportive and typically comfortable. The driving position in the Q2 is excellent. It somehow combines the feel of a slightly higher riding vehicle with a squat sporty hatch. Clever.
Front visibility is excellent thanks to thinner than average A-pillars, but the tiny rear window hampers the rear view – thankfully parking sensors and a reversing camera are standard fare across the board.
The second row is unsurprisingly compact given the dimensions of the Q2, but there is more than enough knee and toe room for your 183cm correspondent.
Headroom is also adequate but taller occupants will have to lower their heads to see out the window. And there are no rear air vents.
Boot space of 405 litres (1050L with rear seats folded) is more than that of the A3 Sportback’s figure of 380L (1220L max) but is not quite as cavernous as the forthcoming new-gen Mini Countryman, which offers 450L (1309L max).
First up on the test route was the Q2 2.0 TDI Quattro Sport that is priced from $47,900. It had a number of options fitted including the S line sport package which adds the very cool flat-bottomed steering wheel, as well as the Technik package that adds the excellent Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster.
While Audi has come a long way by offering loads more standard gear in its models than even a few years ago, you do really need to add a couple of options packages to ensure the Q2 is specced appropriately, and that can add up.
The TDI offers up 110kW/340Nm from its 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four-pot and despite some noticeable turbo lag, it’s a sweet little oiler. The TDI is torquey enough and ensures decent, but not blistering acceleration, and that will be adequate for most buyers.
It still sounds like a diesel engine but is not as clattery as some, and the efforts to keep noise out of the cabin are mostly successful, despite some occasional road noise, depending on the surface.
We also sampled the 1.4 TFSI in Edition #1 guise, a special launch variant (just 200 are available) which is priced from $47,800, although this rose to $49,400 with the Assistance package added in.
Again, acceleration from a standing start in the 110kW/250Nm crossover is adequate, but best to ensure you have plenty of distance ahead when overtaking.
While the 1.4-litre turbo petrol unit is a fine engine, we couldn’t help but think how good the forthcoming 140kW/320Nm Q2 2.0 TFSI Quattro flagship has the potential to be when it lobs in the middle of the year.
But it’s how the Q2 handles, and its ride quality, that really impresses.
In TDI Quattro form, the Q2 coped with unsealed roads as well as some larger and much more off-road-capable vehicles. The ESC intervenes when necessary, but Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system also ensures a compliant drive on loose surfaces.
The suspension setup of both variants is sprung for a mixture of comfort and sporty driving and it tackles ruts and bumps with aplomb. No crashing through potholes here.
It also means the Q2 handles incredibly well and is agile though corners and sweeping bends, with no hint of bodyroll. And this is where the differences between the Q2 and Q3 are clear. The Q3 could not take a bend with the same ease as the Q2. Well the hi-po RS Q3 could, but that is engineered to do precisely that.
Add to that the sharp steering (the Q2 features a Progressive steering system) and the overall drive experience of the Q2 is surprisingly excellent.
We weren’t expecting much from the little crossover on that front, but the usual compromises of an SUV are not present. Kudos to Audi for achieving that very difficult balance.
The quirky, modern design of the Q2 will likely win Audi some new fans, but it’s the drive experience that should ensure its longevity.
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