Young at heart
Audi employees seem to have it all. They can pick any Audi they like as a company car. That seems like an ideal situation, but a young engineer didn't like any of the current models. For his family a Sports Utility Vehicle was the most practical choice, but SUVs are costly and simply too big in city traffic.
The Audi A1 fitted his budget, but didn't offer enough space. And so the idea for the Q2 was born: a spacious, practical SUV which is compact and affordable at the same time.
The Q2 shouldn't just be more compact than the current offerings, it should also be different. Current SUVs are mainly aimed at an older audience for whom easy entry and posh looks count. The Q2 on the other hand looks sporty and daring!
This is achieved by a short, muscular shape and high shoulder line. The side windows are low and end in a "blade". The "blade" is the dark panel between the rear side windows and the rear window. By executing this in a contrasting colour, the roof seems to "hover" above the car.
The interior is a mix between Audi's usual modern business-like style and some playful elements. The base lines are simple and sober, but are contrasted by accents in the exterior colour of the car. And... some of those accents have back lighting, which make the cabin light up like a starry sky!
Regrettably, it's also obvious that the Q2 is Audi's entry level SUV. The quality of the materials used is lower than that of the more expensive models. The door panels are made from cheap plastic and the dashboard looks more bland than usual with Audi. The air vents, which are ingenious little works of ergonomics with other models, are just balls that let air through in the Q2.
The space in the front is good. Do notice that the seats are upright, which gives the driver and co-driver the feeling of operating a large vehicle. With two adults in the front, there's just enough space left in the rear for two more adults.
The Q2 may be Audi's entry level model, but when it comes to luxury and safety this youngster has it all! Even a head-up display, a mobile wifi hotspot, a power tailgate and all modern active safety features are available (do mind the choice of words: available, because almost everything is optional).
Audi's pride and joy, the "Virtual Cockpit", is also available on the Q2. This means the number of buttons is greatly reduced and everything is operated using the display. Regrettably, Audi never uses a touch screen, despite the display being in within easy reach. No matter what, Audi stubbornly holds on to a rotating button in the centre console. When using Android Auto or Apply CarPlay this is especially cumbersome and goes against all the design principles of those devices.
Even the speedometer and rev counter can be replaced by a display. The biggest advantage being that the driver can choose what information is shown at which moment. The "Virtual Cockpit" is both beautiful and useful and really adds value to the car.
A high class audio system from B&O is also on the option list, although sound quality lacks behind that of other Audi models. Even worse, a base audio system from other brands sounds just as good as the Q2's "high end" system.
For this test, first the lightest diesel engine has been driven: the 1.6 TDI (116 PS / 250 Nm). And in real life it is obvious that this is the base engine. The power train is clearly audible and lacks the refined character of other Audi models. The 1.6 TDI lacks flexibility at low revs. After that, the engine has to work hard to perform, which makes it hard to drive efficiently.
The other extreme is the strongest diesel engine on the list: the 2.0 TDI. It develops 190 PS / 440 Nm and that sounds promising! Yet, the feeling of superiority that one might expect with this amount of power from such a compact car is lacking.
Only when putting the pedal to the metal will the 2.0 TDI perform! The automatic gearbox with dual clutch works in perfect harmony with the engine. The Q2 sets off quickly and then it will keep accelerating fiercely! Thanks to Quattro four-wheel drive, all this power can be utilised in any weather. Also, Audi offers a special off-road modus on the Quattro models.
By far the best engine, and the cheapest, is the 1.0 TFSI petrol engine. The specifications of this engine (116 PS / 200 Nm) may not be impressive, but its actual performance certainly is! For starters, the three-cylinder engine runs quietly and is as refined as a four-cylinder. It is only at very high revs that the typical three-cylinder is briefly noticable.
At any engine speed the 1.0 TFSI is torque strong, and in no way does the driver have the feeling of driving a base model. Even better: the 1.0 TFSI is lively and perfectly matches the character of the Q2!
The best has been kept for last: handling. A car that looks young and dynamic should drive that way. And the Q2 certainly does!
That's because the Q2 isn't based on another Audi model. Instead, it is an all-new design in which dynamics were paramount. Of course the engineers did use the standard building blocks that every Audi consists of. For example, the Q2 "borrows" the steering rack from the sporty Audi S3. This makes the Q2 respond alertly at first, after which steering gradually gets less responsive. This gives the Q2 a lively disposition without making the car nervous or tiresome on long distances.
The underpinning is refined and well balanced, which makes the Q2 feel like a true "premium" vehicle. Despite its height the Q2 hardly tilts over and handling is on par with same-price hatchbacks. This doesn't just make the Q2 a great addition to the current Audi range, it also makes it the most fun model!
Was there really space for a fourth SUV from Audi next to the Q3, Q5 and Q7? After a test drive with the Q2 the answer to that question is a clear "yes". The Q2 isn't only more compact and more affordable than the other SUVs, it's also more fun. The Q2 is clearly aimed at young drivers with its daring looks and dynamic handling.
At the same time the Q2 is as functional as any other SUV, which means Audi's youngest engineer finally found his ideal car.
- Excellent ride
- Compact yet spacious
- Fantastic 1.0 TFSI motor
- Poor 1.6 TDI engine
- Used materials show this is Audi's entry level model
- Cumbersome operation of infotainment system (no touch-screen)
"Sporty by nature" Mazda CX-3
"Best boy in class" Suzuki Vitara