CAPE TOWN – The Q2 is a model that sees Audi creep out of its comfort zone. In what way? Well, its a bit different to other products in the Ingolstadt automaker’s current line-up.
Despite its rather substantial price-tag, theres been plenty of interest in the Q2 since its official reveal at Geneva last year. So, we had a drive to see whether the little German crossover lives up to the hype.
What is it?
While Audi claims that the Q2 is an “untaggable” machine (implying that it doesnt really belong in a traditional segment), it is essentially a premium compact crossover that will compete with the likes of the Mini Countryman and Mercedes-Benz GLA. Obviously, given its fairly funky nature, one would assume that this is a product created to attract a new, younger buyer who feels the A1 is too small and the Q3 too big.
Whats with the design?
Usually, one might criticise Audi for its cookie-cutter design, but this doesn’t apply to the Q2. Interestingly, the little crossover does not feature the Prologue design philosophy we see on some current models and expect to see on many future ones. And this further emphasises the idea that the Q2 is a product conceived to attract a new audience.
Inside, the design is rather trendy and quite premium, which is something weve come to expect from Audi. Perceived quality and fit-and-finish is excellent, but the bold ambient lighting (admittedly a R5 900 option) is a particular highlight.
How does it drive?
Fitted with the Volkswagen Group’s familiar 1,4-litre T FSI engine, which delivers 110 kW and 250 N.m of torque to the front wheels through an optional seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission, its no surprise that the Q2 is a rather punchy machine, with prompt power delivery and smooth gear changes. On first impressions, in fact, the powertrain seems much smoother in the Q2 than it does in the A4 1,4T FSI currently in our long-term fleet.
The peak torque, though, might be a little too much for this car as quick pull-aways can sometimes result in a hint of wheelspin, before the traction control system steps in to clean things up. Other than that, it’s a composed machine, thanks in part to the MQB platform that it rides on.
This Q2 has a wheelbase of 2 601 mm (only 2 mm shorter than the Q3) and sits on a rear torsion-beam suspension and a set of 215/50 R18 wheels. This combination translates into a ride that is refined yet still boasts some impressive dynamic capabilities, as I found out over the tricky, narrow Bainskloof Pass.
This road was tackled in the vehicles Dynamic mode, accessible through the Q2s R2 800 Drive Select option, which applies all of the usual changes as well as increases the weight of the steering through the standard-fit progressive steering system. Unlike many other systems, the weight it adds to the helm is substantial and immediately noticeable.
In everyday use, its a comfortable car as well. The ride is forgiving and the engine noise impressively suppressed, despite the largely urgent and responsive nature of the powertrain. It really is an effortless car to pilot. Just make sure you keep it off the gravel as this is one place where the Q2 – thanks at least in part to its wheel/rubber combination – shows a weakness.
Is it a good package?
The Q2 is a refreshing product in Audi’s otherwise largely conservative line-up. But, despite being a bold move, it will likely be well received by both fans of and newcomers to the brand. The 1,0T FSI models that are destined to arrive later this year start at R434 500, with standard equipment that includes daytime running lights, start/stop, auto headlamps, rain-sensing wipers and rear foglamps.
The 1,4T FSI with the S tronic transmission, which Audi anticipates to be the sweetspot in terms of sales, starts at R529 500, but with all of the options fitted (such as ambient lighting, larger wheels, MMI media interface with satellite navigation and some other bits and pieces) it costs nearly R700 000.
But, pricing aside, the trendy Q2 seems destined for local success. A light crossover is certainly not a new idea, but this sort of execution is new for Audi. And its refreshing to see the brand take a new approach.