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Driven: Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI Sport. Image by Audi.

Driven: Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI Sport
Audi shrinks its SUV styling into the tiny Q2, but how roomy is it within as a result?


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Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI Sport

4 4 4 4 4

Good points: Striking looks, Audi cabin quality with youthful colour splashes, excellent TFSI engine, smooth ride, urbanite appeal

Not so good: Not that exciting to drive, gets pricey when you start speccing it up, rear seat legroom is tight, dreadful steering in Dynamic mode

Key Facts

Model tested: Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI Cylinder-on-Demand 150 Sport
Price: Q2 from 21,360; 1.4 TFSI Sport from 24,910, car as tested 28,655
Engine: 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: front-wheel drive, six-speed manual
Body style: five-door crossover
CO2 emissions: 124g/km (160 first 12 months, 140 per annum annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 52.3mpg
Top speed: 131mph
0-62mph: 8.5 seconds
Power: 150hp at 5,000- to 6,000rpm
Torque: 250Nm at 1,500- to 3,500rpm

Our view:

It's hard not to imagine that the Audi Q2 was christened as such just to seriously mess up BMW and Mercedes-Benz's naming policies. Come on, what can the other two Germans do if they're going to rival Audi's smallest SUV - the BMW X0.5, or even the -1? The Mercedes GL-AAA (taking inspiration from batteries)? The rivals are backed into a corner by their own range structures.

However, Audi still has room to build something even smaller than the Q2 if it wanted to, although it's hard to imagine any SUV smaller, Suzuki Ignis notwithstanding. The Q2 is little more than four metres long (4,191mm, if you want to be precise) and - in this guise - it weighs just 1,340kg; making it about the size of a C-segment hatchback. Indeed, Audi itself is happy to admit it has the same wheelbase as the Audi A3 hatch and it's only a tiny bit taller, while being shorter than that car in the process.

It leads to a crossover/SUV (we have to call it an SUV, because Audi will offer four-wheel drive variants of the Q2, rather than making all of them front-wheel drive) that's certainly distinctive in the looks department. It's the first in a new wave of designs, and it's fair to say it's not going to win universal acclaim. The oversized Singleframe grille, in comparison to the headlights, is a strong look, as is the mix of sharp, angular lines in some places and curvy bits in others. Also, it's very brave trying to link a high-riding hatchback-derived motor like this to the R8 via the medium of silver side blades on the Q2's C-pillars, but that's perhaps the Audi's most distinctive feature.

We happen to like the Q2, however, and the Sport model finished in bright Tango Red metallic (550) works well. We think Audi should be commended for not just 'shrinking a Q3' and making it look homogenous with the other Q-SUVs, and that chamfered shoulder line and black lower body cladding are two features that we really admire. It's obviously well-proportioned too, because it can sit on a set of 17-inch alloys and not look hideously underwheeled in the process. That means 55-profile rubber at all corners, which should lead to a better-than-average ride...

The interior gets a big thumbs-up in terms of design and finish as well, although as this is an Audi cabin that's perhaps not the most surprising summation. It has a fixed dash-top MMI screen, loads of A3 switchgear and, in this particular Sport model, a pair of analogue cluster dials with a colour Driver Information System (DIS, 150) nestled between them. Now, we know we have recently criticised bigger, more expensive Audis for not having the Virtual Cockpit - which, incidentally, you can fit to the Q2 if you want to, for the princely sum of 1,595 - and therefore having to work with 'old-fashioned' analogue instrument clusters, but as the Q2 is a more modestly priced Audi, it's not such a big deal. Everything is laid out intuitively and is extremely easy to read at a glance, while the splashes of body-coloured trim give the little crossover a youthful appeal that's lacking from the rest of the range.

Nevertheless, what will be the deal-breaker is the way Audi has packaged the Q2. It's a physically small car, but when you read the tech spec and see the boot is 405 litres with all seats in place, you start to think Audi has pulled off a minor miracle and made a family car that's Tardis-esque. And then you look at the rear legroom. Goodness, it's tight in the back - a fact that's more obvious when you clock the Audi's maximum load space with the rear bench folded away is a rather less impressive 1,050 litres. Taking the Peugeot 2008 as an example, it offers 410 litres with the seats up (close to the Audi) but a much more useable 1,400 litres with them down (miles ahead of the Q2).

So as even a two-year-old toddler in a car seat necessitated some shuffling of the front passenger chair in order to pack everyone into the Q2, don't expect to use this as a family car if your kids are either a) more than eight years old, or b) of average height for their age. It's an extremely compact cabin inside, which means that - for some buyers - all the fancy red highlights in the interior will count for diddly-squat.

It's a pity, because the rest of the Q2 is impressive. While it doesn't exactly set your pants on fire with its road-holding, it's a tidy handler, bereft of speed-sapping understeer and blessed with rather nice steering. Rather nice steering, that is, until you flick the Drive Mode switch a couple of times for Dynamic mode, whereupon it becomes utterly horrible. The wheel is suddenly ludicrously heavy in your hands in this setting and when you move it a few degrees off centre, there's a deeply unpleasant dead patch to negotiate before the car's nose responds. It then inconsistently gives sporadic bursts of feedback and varying weighting, and it simply doesn't work well at all. You'll need to configure the Individual drive mode, via the MMI, so that the steering is on Comfort, the throttle on Dynamic and the air-con on Auto, for those odd occasions you want to give the TFSI a good workout.

You can either do that, or just leave the car in Normal mode, where it proves a willing little performer. We love this 1.4-litre Cylinder-on-Demand (CoD) TFSI in its other applications throughout the Volkswagen Group, and the Q2 is no exception to this rule. It stays smooth when revved, will happily chase round to its 6,000rpm redline without having to shout about it and it goes whisper quiet during a steady-state cruise. It also provides the crossover with plenty of peppy performance - a quoted 8.5-second 0-62mph time seems entirely believable. Of course, its party piece is its ability to switch to two-cylinder running on the lightest of throttle openings or during coasting, which ostensibly saves fuel.

The switch between four pots and two, and then back again, is imperceptible in operation, as you would expect of an engineering giant like Audi, but we're not 100 per cent convinced on the fuel savings. The Q2 got through two tanks of unleaded during the course of 878 mainly motorway miles in its company, returning an indicated 44.1mpg at a 40mph average. Actually punching the numbers into a calculator and working that out for 'real' economy shows 39.8mpg, so long-distance drivers are going to be better off with a diesel motor - although, to be fair to the Q2 TFSI, it hauled out of central London to Lincolnshire and then back home again (a distance of 194 miles) at a more reasonable 45.8mpg indicated.

Where the little Audi scores very highly is on refinement. With that wheelbase and the word 'Sport' in the specification, you might be tempted to think the Q2 is an overly firm crossover, but nothing could be further from the truth. It's smooth across rough surfaces, thanks to excellent damping and those plump tyres, and it's also quiet in terms of the aerodynamics and road noise. Well, let's be fair, we did do the guts of 900 miles in it within seven days, so it can't have been that bad to drive.

It's a polished dynamic performance from the Audi, then, but the Q2's other major stumbling block - aside from rear-seat space - is, like much of Audi's output, its robust price. All of the three rivals we've listed below can be bought for less than 20,000, but the Q2's kick-off point is over 21k. And if you start equipping a few comfort options to this Sport model, you're left with a windscreen sticker than no longer looks eminently reasonable. Our car weighed in at 28,655, courtesy of the exterior paint, the colour DIS, and a set of front Sport seats in black Milano leather with contrast stripes and stitching (1,300). On top of that, the Driver Assistance Pack (725), auto-dimming rear-view mirror with light and rain sensors (125), LED lights front and rear (975) and Comfort Pack (900) meant we had a near-30 grand Q2. Inevitably that invites the question: what sort of Q3 could I get for the same money?

The Audi Q2 is a likeable thing, though, and it certainly has a funkiness about it that should appeal to a younger buyers than the brand is known for. Definitely test out the rear seats for legroom if you're thinking about buying one and, provided they meet your approval and you like the distinctive styling, then you're probably going to end up signing on the dotted line for a Q2. Unless you really want a BMW X0.003 instead.

Matt Robinson - 30 Dec 2016    - Audi road tests
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2016 Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI drive. Image by Audi.2016 Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI drive. Image by Audi.2016 Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI drive. Image by Audi.2016 Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI drive. Image by Audi.2016 Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI drive. Image by Audi.

2016 Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI drive. Image by Audi.  


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