First Drive: Audi Q2
SECTOR Crossover PRICE €22,900–€34,000 FUEL 4.4-5.7l/100km CO2 114-130g/km
Audi has long defined itself by its understated sense of premium style, on subtle accents of aluminium, soft metallic colours and futuristic LED light signatures. So the Q2 might seem like a step away from the norm.
Bigger than an A1 but smaller than the three-door A3, with which it shares a platform, this is a new nameplate and a new segment for Audi. It’s Ingolstadt’s interpretation of the urban crossover, a concept pioneered by the Juke and Yeti, but with the advantage of a premium badge on the grille.
There aren’t many direct competitors. Most similarly sized crossovers fit into a lower price bracket than the Q2, and Daimler has yet to launch a crossover under the Smart brand. So that puts Audi up against the ageing MINI Countryman, with a palette largely comprising primary colours and bodywork which appears to have been cut out of a square block of concrete.
It’s got an obvious business case. The Juke has found its place in the market by targeting upsizing supermini drivers and those for whom a hatchback or small MPV is too boring. Audi now has a similar offering, filling a gap between the A1 and A3 and potentially bringing completely new customers into showrooms. This corner of the market is unlikely to be neglected for long.
Audi sees demand being retail-weighted, but hopes to attract company car drivers with the Q2. Fleet operators will be glad to hear that, beneath its new sense of style, there isn’t much to adjust to. Particularly in terms of the engine choice, with the likely corporate favourite 1.6-litre TDI available from launch. It’s a quiet engine, and gets a slight increase to 115hp, but it’s still reliant on shifting up and down through the gears to get the best performance. Expect fuel economy of around 4l/100km with CO2 emissions of 105g/km when figures are released during the summer.
There are plenty of other choices for company car drivers. The lively 1.0-litre, three-cylinder, turbocharged petrol engine from the A3 is also available and is a sensible option for city-based drivers. Audi is also offering a pair of 150hp engines – the 2.0-litre TDI and 1.4-litre TFSI – which will both be available with quattro four-wheel drive, and the 190hp 2.0-litre diesel at the top of the range. Recent Volkswagen Group products suggest fuel economy and CO2 for the petrol engines won’t be far behind their diesel counterparts, which, with the lower screen price, could make them an attractive alternative.
Audi also seems to have benchmarked MINI-esque agility for the Q2. The platform and wheelbase are the same as the A3, but the smaller body pushes the wheels out to the corners resulting in confident roadholding despite the potential top-heaviness from its increased ride height. Audi’s variable steering setup is clever, too, offering quick responses while parking or cornering heavily but without the downside of being twitchy at highway speeds.
But it’s customisation that sets this furthest apart from the rest of the range. The C-pillar ‘blade’ is removable, so it can be swapped for other colours whenever the driver feels like a change, and the A3-like interior is livened up by brightly-coloured accents – if desired – and backlit graphics which glow at night. The result is a car which can be tuned to masculine or feminine tastes.
Or, alternately, it can be dialled back to the typical subtle tones that are used elsewhere in the Audi range, becoming a fashionable, understated small SUV. Either way, it’s a welcome injection of youthful character, and Audi should have no problems luring customers into showrooms for a closer look.
What we think
A stylish and surprisingly practical alternative to the ‘ordinary’ family hatchback, the Q2 is cute and customisable, has plenty of character and the right badge on its grille. But it’s unlikely to have such a free run of this segment for very long.