► We test second bestselling Q2
► New 1.6 TDI diesel reviewed
► Driven in Europe for first time
The new-for-2016 Audi Q2 is emblematic of the rampant expansionism underway at Ingolstadt; it is the company’s fourth SUV (excluding Allroads) and that even digit is significant - it signifies this is a more sporting, crossovery type of soft-roader.
So where the Q3, Q5 and Q7 ranges are more family-focused chariots, the Q2 is designed to have a more youthful, more sporting bent. Hence the grungier styling, the contrasting C-pillar panels, the impressive roster of technology. They’re all designed to latch on to younger, more fashion-conscious buyers. Sound familiar? It’s the same as home-town rival BMW’s approach to its more coupe-alike, even-numbered X models.
We’ve just driven Audi’s smallest crossover in Europe for the first time. Read on for our full review - and click here for our Audi Q2 range page, where you can browse all our news, road tests and spyshots of the whole family.
Audi Q2 prices and specs
Audi is confident it’s found a sweet spot in the small crossover market, pricing its newcomer from £20,230 for the cheapest Q2 1.0 TFSI. There’s clear water before the cheapest Mercedes-Benz GLA (from £25k) and BMW X1 (priced from £27k), although the cheaper £17k Mini Countryman undercuts it.
Here we’re testing the 1.6 TDI, expected to be the second bestseller in the range, gobbling up nearly a third of UK sales and priced from £24,030. It’s the familiar VW Group four-cylinder unit, tuned here to deliver 114bhp.
Sport is set to be the most popular trimline, accounting for more than half of British orders. So that’s what we’re testing here, complete with the following standard equipment:
- Figure-hugging sports seats
- Automatic lights and wipers
- Cruise control
- 17-inch alloy wheels
- Aluminium and coloured accents in cabin to relieve acres of black
- Ice silver C-pillar blade
- Lower bumpers in contrasting grey or body colour
- Step-one navigation (not the full-fat version mapping)
Ours also came with the optional head-up display, which works brilliantly on a pop-up perspex screen in your line of sight to beam speed and sat-nav instructions - a pricey extra at £500, but one you’ll benefit from every single day.
The new Audi Q2 is a striking thing and definitely evolves Aud’s crossover look. Despite standing on tip-toe for that marginally raised ride height, it somehow looks squat, purposeful. Squared-off polygon shapes abound; we have to admit to doing a déjà-vu double-take when a burnt-orange Subaru XV drove past us.
Those delicately scalloped flanks are a bold move for clean-cut Audi, removing some of the surface bulk of the Q2. It’s a good-looking thing and the contrasting colour palettes make it stand out from the crowd.
Jump inside and it’s more Audi Business As Usual. That is to say, the cabin is one of the Q2’s knock-out successes, delivering a premium feel and first-rate ergonomics. Yes, there’s a flash of colour and trim to provide more visual vim than inside the A3 donor car, but it’s still sensible, high-quality stuff. Just what you’d expect from an Audi.
Audi may play visual tricks with the design to make it feel like a squat crossover-coupe, but the reality is there’s reasonable space front and back in the Q2; remember, this car stretches to just 4.2m long - so don’t go expecting vast rear legroom. But two grown-ups can sit comfortably back there (just don’t go trying to squeeze a third in).
The 405-litre boot has a double-decker floor and is pretty deep compared with the Countryman’s, but is left reeling some way behind the larger GLA’s and X1’s which top out at around 500 litres. It’s a cinch to pop the Q2’s rear seats down, to swell the load bay to 1050 litres for carrying larger loads.
Enough of the sensible stuff! How does the Audi Q2 drive?
Very like an A3 on stilts. And we mean that in the nicest possible way. It has a grown-up, polished vibe with decent ride quality on the Swiss roads of our test route, although we’d recommend the usual advice of avoiding the largest 18-inch rims. Ride quality on 16- and 17-inch wheels is decent.
The Sport spec brings Audi Drive Select, but this only adjusts mapping for throttle response, gearbox and steering weight; you’ll need the adaptive damping option if you want to flip between boulevardier and B-road blaster, stiffening those dampers.
Let’s be honest. Most Q2 owners won’t want to rag this junior crossover to within an inch of its long-life oil - it’s simply not its mission statement. Tyres squeal and traction gets a bit hairy on front-wheel drive models when you start to push it hard on your favourite back road. Much better to back off and luxuriate in the elastic twang from the 1.6 TDI, the peachy refinement and comfy ride quality.
Audi Q2 1.6 TDI: performance, economy
Performance is well judged with this lowest-power diesel engine; only consider the more powerful 148bhp and 187bhp 2.0-litre TDI models if you really need more get-up-and-go, want Quattro four-wheel drive or regularly tow.
The manual gearchange is pleasingly direct and we preferred it to the optional seven-speed DSG twin-clutch ‘box. The vast majority of Q2s sold in Britain will be front-wheel drive and it’s a pleasant change to see a complete absence of soft-roading credentials for what is bound to become largely urban transport for typical users.
What’s strange from behind the wheel is that the Q2 barely provides any of that raised SUV-alike driving position. It feels marginally taller than an equivalent A3, but you get the impression it’s focused on design and posture over outright functionality.
There’s no doubting the tech on offer, though, with Google Earth, app streaming and Audi Connect ushering in a whole new way of consuming - and paying for - content direct from your car. There’s clever stuff in here, but make no mistake: this is a big commercial opportunity manifesting itself right before our eyes. No wonder all car makers are pushing this kind of technology.
It’s hard to see how Audi’s smallest crossover won’t go on to sell like hot cakes. The company predicts it’ll leapfrog the Q3 to become its biggest-selling SUV and we don’t doubt that for a minute. This is a polished, smart, very in-vogue kind of product - albeit a slightly unimaginative one - and one we think is well judged for its target demographic.
The Ingolstadt empire continues to grow unabated. Expect the usual roll-out of additional powertrains, Quattro availability and S performance derivatives in due course - with second helpings of Q4s and Q6s to sate the public’s endless appetite for soft-roaders.
Click here for our Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI review