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First drive: Audi Q2. Image by Audi.

First drive: Audi Q2
Audi's new baby of its SUV line-up is the rather likeable Q2 crossover.

   



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Audi Q2

4 4 4 4 4

Audi's new Q2 is smart looking and smart to drive, but is it roomy enough to qualify as a family crossover?

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Audi Q2 1.0 TFSI Sport
Pricing: from 20,230; as tested 21,780
Engine: 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Transmission: six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Body style: five-door compact crossover
CO2 emissions: 120g/km (VED Band C, 30 per annum)
Top speed: 118mph
0-62mph: 10.5 seconds
Power: 116hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 200Nm at 2,000- to 3,500rpm
Boot space: 405 litres (seats up), 1,050 litres (seats down)

What's this?

It's the latest prong in Audi's assault on the global No.1 luxury car maker award, a crown that the Ingolstadt company wants to wear come 2020. Audi long ago figured out that the best way to do that was to create a phalanx of SUVs and crossovers, and the Q2 is the latest - a small crossover designed primarily to compete with the MINI Countryman and some of the mass-market brand cars such as the Peugeot 2008 and Jeep Renegade.

It's actually largely based on the MQB components set, so in spite of its diminutive size, it's actually more closely related to the A3 than the A1. But those hoping that means it's a useful, practical family crossover will be disappointed - space in the back is actually quite poor, with limited headroom and legroom, even if there is a useful 405-litre boot.

At least it's good looking. Certainly the cabin is little short of gorgeous. Our test car came with a few choice extras including the brilliant full-width 'Virtual Cockpit' digital instrument panel and some cool-looking dash and door trim panels that are actually lit from behind at night.

It's better looking on the outside than you'd guess from the photos. We're still not convinced by the rear-pillar 'blade' that comes in a contrasting colour and can be swapped out for a fresh colour at your behest. It looks OK in some colours, not OK in others, and will anyone actually ever take advantage of the swapsies? The rest of the car is good though - chunkier and squarer than the current Audi norm, with big headlights and tail-lights, heavily scalloped sides and a big, broad radiator grille. Not pretty-pretty perhaps, but cute in a shrunken Tonka Toy kind of way.

It's also very safe - Audi has fitted it with autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection and there is a wealth of other safety gadgets on the options list, including active cruise control (which can take over the driving entirely in heavy traffic), cross traffic alert, blind spot monitor and more. That it's high tech will hardly come as a surprise. Audi has fitted it with the new AudiConnect package, which uses a built-in SIM card to link the infotainment system to the internet and which can, for an extra charge, be used as a Wi-Fi hotspot. Speaking of charging, there's also a wireless charging pad for phones, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto built in and other such niceties as a heads-up display. Obviously, most of that is on the options list, so be prepared to see some 30k+ Q2s knocking around...

How does it drive?

Surprisingly well. I guess being based on an A3 was never going to make it especially bad, but the Q2 feels tight and taut most of the time, with excellent steering. It uses, as standard, Audi's progressive steering system, which alters the ratio of the rack depending on various parameters, meaning it's more stable at high speed and faster to turn in at low speed. You never notice it switching, but it works really well, giving the Q2 a nicely agile, but still well-planted feel. It's not the most talkative steering ever, and less engaging than that of the MINI Countryman, but the Q2 is actually quite good fun to chuck around, and the firmly damped suspension is up to the task. Well, mostly so - it is a bit too firm, occasionally fidgety and that was on super-smooth Swiss tarmac, so it may well be that the Q2 will feel a bit worse on home soil.

The engine will be some compensation for that though - especially this engine, the 1.0-litre, three-cylinder TFSI turbo petrol. You would assume that it would be far too small and weedy an engine for this car, but no, it's actually quite brilliant. Smooth-spinning and sweet-revving, it happily zings along, with a helpful (if not excessive) combo of 116hp and 200Nm of torque. Impressively, it's as happy hauling up motorway inclines in sixth as it is accelerating up to its redline heading up and down some Swiss Alps. A truly terrific little engine, and well ahead of the diesels in driver enjoyment terms. It's also good on both fuel economy and CO2 emissions, so what's not to love?

The only black marks are against the cabin. Although the front seats are very comfortable, there is always a slight sensation of being crammed in, the driving position is slightly offset and the manual gearshift feels like it's set too far back for comfort.

Verdict

The thing is, Audi actually needn't have bothered. Everyone's going crossover crazy at the moment, so all Audi had to really do was show up with a car that was roughly the right shape, slap the four rings on it and sit back and watch the profit margins roll in. If it had been utter bobbins to drive, no-one outside of a few outraged motoring critics would have much cared. It's to Audi's credit then that the Q2 looks and feels like such a well-sorted car. The cabin is beautiful and beautifully made, the steering sharp, the chassis capable and really only some interior niggles, small back seats and that too-fidgety ride count against it. It would have been a huge success anyway, but having driven it, we reckon it genuinely deserves to be.

5 5 5 5 5 Exterior Design

5 5 5 5 5 Interior Ambience

3 3 3 3 3 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain


Neil Briscoe - 8 Jul 2016



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2016 Audi Q2. Image by Audi.2016 Audi Q2. Image by Audi.2016 Audi Q2. Image by Audi.2016 Audi Q2. Image by Audi.2016 Audi Q2. Image by Audi.








 

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