Sales of small and midsize SUVs are booming worldwide. Almost all are being bought by people with absolutely no interest in going off-road, but who want a practical vehicle. Station wagons are boring – SUVs are cool.
Audi says it’s aiming Q2 at the young and the young-at-heart, with customisation being a major feature. Taking cues from the little Audi A1 hatch the new Q2 offers buyers a staggering choice of options. In fact it’s mathematically possible for five million people to buy a Q2 without having one that’s identical to any other.
There’s a choice of 12 body colours. The door mirrors can either match the body colour or take a different direction. The radiator grilles comes in different colours and can even have a contrasting shade in the surround. The lower edges of the bumper can be chosen in different colours.
As the Q2 is a (sort-of) SUV the wheel arches and the sill trims that act as body protection are available in several versions. This makes a surprising difference to the appearance. Do those surfaces in body colour and Q2 looks like a cross between a hatch and a coupe. In a dark contrasting shade it suddenly calls out SUV.
Perhaps the most interesting of all customisation choices is the C-pillar design that Audi stylists have called the ‘C-Blade’. These can be ordered in a variety of finishes and colours. The Blades can be removed and replaced so easily that some owners may choose to keep several colours in their garage and swap them to match different occasions. Great fun.
Inside, the Audi’s trim is offered in several styles and materials; leather, Alcantara and cloth depending on the Audi Line. A two-colour instrument panel looks great, with the lower zone colour-coordinated with the seat upholstery. The upper and lower areas of the dash are separated by inlays. The centre console and knee pad colours are to buyers’ choices.
Seats can be in single or two-tone and have different trim designs and choices of stitching.
Do yourself a favour and set aside at least an hour at your favourite Audi dealer to savour the personalisation on offer.
Infotainment is by Audi’s MMI system. In its latest iteration it has an 8.3-inch screen. Satellite navigation uses Google Earth with street view and search facility. There’s a hotspot within the Q2 that can connect to any device in the cabin. The Audi smartphone interface works with iOS and Android. An option that seems likely to get ticked close to 100 per cent of the time is the ‘phone box‘ with wireless charging.
The smallest engine currently offered in Australian Audi Q2s is a 1.4-litre cylinder-on-demand (CoD) four-cylinder unit already seen on several other Audi models here. It produces 110 of power and 250 Nm of torque. Transmission is through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic (S tronic in Audi speak) only to the front wheels.
The only other engine being imported at this stage is a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel (110 kW / 340 Nm). Top torque runs from 1750 to 3000 rpm. The engine drives all four wheels through the latest iteration of Audi’s quattro system, again by way of a seven-speed dual-clutch unit.
A larger, 2.0-litre, turbo-petrol (140 kW / 320 Nm) is on sale in Europe now but won’t reach Australia till mid year. It, too, will have quattro power transmission.
The S tronic automatic on the quattro models is a new design with faster shifts and smoother takeup during ultra-slow parking manoeuvres.The 1.4-litre makes do with the older version of the S tronic, at least for the time being.
Is an Audi SQ2 in the wings? Audi will neither confirm nor deny this.
We road tested both Q2 variants over a comprehensive driving route, including peak hour traffic Melbourne’s CBD, boring motorways at 99.9 km/h and finally onto some lovely country roads to the old gold mining settlement of Walhalla, and back to Tullamarine airport the back way. Exactly the sort of driving many owners will do.
There is good space in the front seats, they’re easy to enter and leave and the driving position is high, without going to the extremes of a genuine 4WD.
The rear seats are marginal in legroom for adults and some compromises will have to be made with those in the front if four adults are travelling. Three adults can sit in the back, but two makes more sense. Interestingly, the rear seatbacks can fold either in a 50 / 50 split, or in 40 / 20 / 40. The latter has a centre section that folds down as an armrest. You have to pay $450 extra for the latter seatbacks, hmm…
Boot space at 405 litres is good and the floor can be set at two levels, to either provide security for smallish objects under it, or for tall cargo. Maximum capacity can be up to 1050 litres when only one or two people are in the Q2.
We found Audi Q2 quiet and comfortable to travel in. There were some relatively rough surfaces, as well as dirt roads during this extended drive program but these didn’t challenge the suspension.
Handling is competent with high levels of road grip, all the more so in the Q2 sports with its larger wheels, wider tyres and adaptable dampers. In the sports mode the car will even squeal the tyres if you’re in ratbag mood. Steering feel is excellent, Audi really has this sorted out beautifully in its latest models.
Audi looks to be on a winner with its new Q2 crossover. You can option it to look like an SUV, or take a different tack and come up with a hatchback that’s almost coupe in its tail end. Prices are reasonable for the class, but keep an eye on them getting out of control if you go mad in personalisation.
Manufacturer’s List Price for Audi Q2 are:
Q2 design 1.4 TFSI S tronic: $41,100
Q2 sport 2.0 TDI Squattro S tronic: $47,900
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Audi dealer for drive-away prices.