Audi injects some much-needed character into its product portfolio with the Q2. Motor Online takes issue with its SUV tag though.
Let’s get a few things straight, okay Audi. We all know you pioneered the Audi Quattro in the ‘80s and revolutionised rallying and four-wheel drive cars forever. We also know that since the turn of the 21st century you’ve been a right talented bunch at snouting out new niches and tailoring cars just perfectly to ensure consumers clamour for something they didn’t even know they wanted. But now you’ve gone a step too far with the Q2. A small crossover which Audi says ‘carves out a new niche’, a car that’s so revolutionary it’s another ‘TT moment’. Say what now? A new niche? You’re missing a good scrap here, Audi, and a tough one, too, because premium rivals have been dipping their quill in the crossover ink for some time now – Mercedes-Benz GLA, Mini Countryman, BMW X1 to name just a few. In fact you’re beyond fashionably late to this party. That said, is there any merit behind the new baby Q being its next ‘TT moment?’
On this last point, Audi may be onto something. Fair to say we haven’t been this popular driving a car with four rings on it since… well, we don’t think we’ve ever turned as many heads in an Audi – not since one with a ten-cylinder symphony and a fixed carbonfibre rear wing. It’s fair to say the appearance is a big hit straight out the gates. The overall proportions are perhaps a little gangly – what small crossover isn’t, frankly – but all the appeal resides in the details. The ‘cutaway’ Tornado line down the flanks is a pleasant variation on a signature Audi styling feature, the polygon front grille is unashamedly Audi Q car, signifying its family connection to the Q5 and Q7, and those big lower air intakes, squat look to the taillights and contrasting (and customisable) C-pillars on the tapering roof line, well, they’re just de rigeur in today’s design semantics. One thing we think Volvo will be taking umbrage with is the LED DLR signature – very XC90 Thor’s Hammer.
“The Q2 is just what Ingolstadt’s cookie-cutter product portfolio was screaming out for”
It’s obviously an Audi but it’s also something very new and fresh, just what Ingolstadt’s cookie-cutter product portfolio was screaming out for. Then when you move your attentions to the inside, crucially, there’s nothing immature to put you off. It’s essentially an Audi A3 cabin, which to my mind is one of the best as far as quality touch points and ergonomic efficiency goes. Sure, they’ve chunked up the steering wheel and some other materials and offered up a splash of colour trim (should you option it of course) but the architecture that underpins it is sound, on-point, premium Audi. The car we found myself in had Audi’s brilliant Virtual Cockpit display – which we always think must annoy new TT / R8 owners who bought those cars thinking they would retain some exclusivity to it. Never, the fact that Audi’s spreading the genius of this tech as far down its range as it has is worth praise. Like everything VAG, the Q2 uses the one-size-fits-all MQB platform, except the track has been widened to compensate for the 200mm ground clearance. Its 4.19m long (20cm less than a Q3 and 13cm less than a five-door A3) but in this instance its compact dimensions that’ll attract the younger set and those buying down from big, cumbersome SUVs that are a pain in the neck to move around in every day. Stowage wise there’s 405/1050 litres with the rear seats up and down, predictably that’s a smidge less than you get from a bigger Q3.
Of the range of engines on offer – a 1.0 TSI three-cylinder being one and the 2.0 TDI coming later in the year, we piloted the 1.4 TSI with 110kW/250Nm. Combined with the brand new 7-speed S tronic dual clutch, this front-wheel drive is a punchy little hustler that shrugs off its high-riding stance to get to 100kph in 8.5sec, before topping out at 212kph. Ultra-smooth cylinder-on-demand technology shuts down two of the pots when you’re cruising so this Audi boasts an impressive 5.4l/100km, too. More impressive still is the entirely tolerable ride quality, despite the fitment of optional 19-inch rims, especially given the tough ride of the A3 hatch. Wearing relatively low-profile rubber, giving information-rich feedback through Audi’s progressive power steering setup, there’s eagerness and refinement to how it drives on road that makes it an ideal street fighter. Put it on a section of rough corrugated gravel road and the resonance through the cabin does become an issue though.
Q used to stand for quattro (in my mind anyway), but not in Audi SA’s masterplan for the Q2 – the all-wheel drive TDI available overseas isn’t planned for local release at this stage. Which we think is a missed opportunity. Granted, the vast majority will opt for the regular FWD models – earning Audi a boatload of conquest sales undoubtedly – but a genuinely strong all-wheel-drive range-topper could’ve been the talisman flying the quattro flag: a cute Q car that has serious SUV chops. Instead it’s just a likeable, slightly expensive crossover that does the premium thing really well – until the next must-have urban crossover comes along.
Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI Sport S tronic in a nutshell
An Audi with a pulse that doesn’t compromise on premium quality. Late to the party, but ready to party.
Expensive but then again it is a proper Audi. Some funky options for mahala would’ve been nice
Engine: 1 395 cc, 4-cylinder, turbocharged
Power: 110kW @ 5 000-6 000 rpm , 250 Nm @ 1 500-3 500 rpm
Performance: 0-100 km/h 8.5 sec, top speed 212 km/h
Economy: 5.4 l/100 km
Transmission: Seven-speed S-tronic dual clutch
CO2 emissions: 123g/km
Price: starts from R529 500
Maintenance: A warranty of one year unlimited km and a five year 100 000km maintenance plan.
Must-have options: You can go beserk here: The Titanium Black package, pearl paint, contrasting sideblades, big 19-inch rims, MMI infotainment and a sports steering is what we’d go for – be prepared to add R87 500 to the price.