What is it? The Audi Q2 is a compact SUV, and the smallest Audi crossover yet.
Key features: Large car tech, lifestyle personalisation options.
Our view: Could prove to be Audi’s most important model for some time
Review type: First UK drive
Audi launched its first SUV, the Q7, almost a decade ago and it and its Q5 and Q3 sisters now take half of the brand’s sales. Now there is a new, smaller member of the family, which could prove to be Audi’s most important model for some time.
The Q2 is not only the brand’s first compact SUV, but according to its creators the first-ever compact SUV from an acknowledged premium brand.
Audi personnel are convinced they are onto a winner by getting in first, because they believe that crossovers in the premium sector are going to become as popular as they have been in the mainstream market, and that before long most of the upmarket brands will be offering them. “Small and compact can also be premium, desirable and iconic,” says Audi PR head Jon Zammett.
They could have a point – some 18,000 potential Q2 buyers have already registered their interest with Audi, and more than half of them haven’t bought cars with four-ringed badges before…
The Q2 is also Audi’s most lifestyle-pitched car yet. According to Zammett, savvy buyers will be attracted to it in the same way they are the modern technology becoming available for their increasingly connected homes.
And like any ‘lifestyle’ car, the Q2 will satisfy the current trend to personalisation, offering a number of trim and colour options – notably two choices of wheel arch finish, and four on the rear screen pillar sides, which have been widened to form what Audi describes as ‘blades’.
To look at the Q2 is distinctive but not obviously an SUV. In lengths it sits between the A1 and A3 hatches, and while Audi claims it has no direct rivals, the car could likely be considered by buyers also shortlisting anything from a Nissan Juke to a Mini Countryman. It is slightly longer, at 4.2m, and wider (1.8m) than both, but notably it has a much lower roofline.
Yet when one gets inside the Q2, it is pretty spacious for a ‘small’ car, in both front and back, and particularly in terms of headroom. And the driver still enjoys that commanding view that is a major reason why people buy SUVs.
The secret is the MQB platform, which has underpinned virtually everything coming out of VW brands in the last couple of years. Its modular versatility allows for very effective packaging – the Q2’s wheelbase is longer than both those rivals, which in the process frees up interior space and maintains boot capacity that compares favourably with the opposition.
As well as that excellent view of what’s ahead and around (except perhaps in the rear three-quarter where the C-pillar blades restrict things a bit), the driver faces a dash that will be familiar to anyone owning a larger Audi. And this is another prime selling point of the Q2 – much of the tech created in bigger Audis is cascading down to the smaller newcomer.
So the cockpit gains, for example, the MMI infotainment system with its screen placed high on the centre of the dash, and which can be specified with a touchpad, voice control and access to Audi’s Connect services.
A smartphone interface supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto services, while a definite highlight of the options list is the Virtual Cockpit, which includes the ability to display a sat nav map, or Google Images, right across the digital instrument panel.
At launch the engine choices centre on a 1.4 TFSI petrol unit of 150hp, or a pair of TDI diesels, the 1.6 producing 116hp and the 2-litre 150hp. The 1.4 petrol includes cylinder-on-demand technology, shutting down the central pair when not under heavy load, and all three engines can be matched to either a six-speed manual or seven-speed S-tronic transmission.
The choices will soon grow – before the end of 2016 a three-cylinder petrol of 116hp will join the range, and in late 2017 a 2-litre petrol with 190hp. And it is indicative of the car’s target market that only the 2-litre engines will be available with quattro all-wheel-drive. Only a quarter of sales are expected to be to fleet customers, and 60 per cent will likely choose petrol engines over the diesels.
At the launch event The Car Expert was able to try Q2s with the 1.4 petrol and 1.6 diesel. Little needs to be written about the engines – they are familiar units from other Audi models and in these latest surroundings they work well, with all the enthusiasm and refinement that is these days expected of the brand. We are not talking rocketship pace from these 1.4 and 1.6 units – the 1.4 needs to be revved to get the best out of it, and more potency will come with the larger engines. But these units should satisfy anyone moving up from the mainstream supermini or compact SUV market.
On the road the Q2 is accomplished. It rides well whether one goes for standard or sport suspension – in fact the choice of wheel size, from 16 to 18 inches, can make a more noticeable difference. Progressive steering is another standard fit on all models – weighting up as road speed increases, it helps produce competent progress through bends, the Q2 easily going where it is pointed with the body staying pleasingly upright.
Four trim levels are available – SE, Sport, S line and the new range-topping Edition 1. And despite standard equipment on all models that includes the progressive steering, the smartphone interface and a safety package featuring such innovations as Pre-sense Front crash-alert, a radar-based system that will if necessary brake the car to a halt, Audi expects only 10 per cent of buyers to choose the SE models. Most are expected to favour the higher-spec versions, particularly the Sport.
With the arrival of the Q2, buyers can now get into an Audi SUV for £22,380. When the 1.0 version goes on sale the minimum price will drop to £20,230. That, plus a solid specification, competent on-road performance and yes, the image the new car portrays, should ensure the Q2 proves a major success.
Audi Q2 – key specifications
Models Tested: Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI S line 150PS S-tronic, 1.6 TDI SE 6-spd
On Sale: 12th November 2016
Range price: £22,380-£32,720
Insurance groups: 13E-20E.
Engines: Petrol 1.4 (1.0, 2.0 to follow). Diesel 1.6, 2.0.
Power (hp): 150 (116, 190). 116, 150.
Torque (Nm):250 (200, TBC). 250, TBC.
0-62mph (sec): 8.5 (TBC, TBC). 10.3, TBC.
Top speed (mph): 131 (TBC, TBC). 122, TBC.
Fuel economy (combined, mpg)*: 124 (TBC, TBC). 64.2, TBC.
CO2 emissions (g/km): 124 (TBC, TBC). 114, TBC.
Key rivals: BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA, Mini Countryman
Test Date: November 2016
* = all figures with 16-inch wheels, manual transmission.