Audi has a habit of jump-starting its design department. The TT brought a breath of fresh air to the range in the late 1990s, the R8 led the way in the late 2000s, and now the Q2 small SUV is aiming to be the design highlight of Audi’s SUV range.
Smaller than the existing Q3, but only just, the Q2 is designed to be fresh, interesting, and appealing to a new younger buyer that might not otherwise consider a traditionally staid Audi.
There’s obvious links to other Audi designs, and new themes that give the little crossover a chunky look all of its own - but it might pay to get in quick, just as the TT and R8 lost their visual drama in their successive second generations, there’s no saying how long the Q2 will remain a design mould-breaker.
Vehicle Style: Prestige small SUV
Price: $41,100-$49,900 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 110kW/250Nm 1.4-litre 4cyl turbo petrol, 110kW/240Nm 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo diesel | 7sp automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 5.3 l/100km (petrol) 5.0 l/100km (diesel) l/100km | Tested: 7.3 l/100km (petrol) 6.1 l/100km (diesel)
From launch, Audi is keeping the Q2 lineup simple. There’s two models to begin with, the 1.4 TFSI Design with a petrol engine and front wheel drive from $41,100 (plus on-road costs), or the 2.0 TDI quattro Sport, with a diesel engine and all wheel drive from $47.900 (plus on-road costs).
Early adopters also have a chance at the 1.4 TFSI Launch Edition, essentially the same as the Design, but with extra options added and a few specific styling touches like black trim panels for the C-pillars and 19-inch alloy wheels.
In typical Audi fashion there’s a range of option packages including driver assist technologies, added interior comfort, LED head and tail lights with 18-inch wheels, S-Line exterior and S-Line sport (both interior and exterior), and technology upgrades that can be mixed and matched to an owner’s needs.
Despite straddling the already narrow gap in price between the A3 hatch and slightly larger Q3, Audi is confident this brash newcomer will stand out like a beacon to a new breed of Audi fans.
- 1.4 TFSI Design: Dual-zone climate control, leather seat trim, leather steering wheel with multi-function controls, anodised paint dash inserts, automatic headlights and wipers, contrasting lower body cladding, 17-inch alloy wheels
- 2.0 TDI quattro Sport: (in addition to Design) aluminium interior accents, sports seats, body-coloured cladding, powered tailgate, 18-inch alloy wheels
- 1.4 TFSI Launch Edition: (in addition to Design) Quantum Grey with Manhattan Grey exterior, black C-pillar blades, 19-inch alloy wheels, S-Line exterior package, Assistance package
- Infotainment: 7.0-inch display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, AM/FM radio, Bluetooth phone and audio, eight speaker audio, USB and SD card inputs
- Cargo Volume: 405 litres seats up, 1050 litres seats down
On the inside the Q2 sticks closely to the interior design of the A3 range, including circular air vents, familiar climate controls, and high quality plastics with the usual soft-feel finish. Not everything is quite as premium as Audi’s more expensive models, but the Q2 hardly feels like you’re roughing it on the inside.
A tablet-like 7.0-inch screen stands to attention on the middle of the dash, though this one is fixed in place rather than being retractable. Adding the Technik package brings the 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit display as found in other Audi models as well as a larger 8.3 inch centre screen.
Options aplenty mean the standard leather trim can be dressed up with contrasting colour highlights if desired, LED-illuminated trim panels on the dash and centre console are available, along with heated front seats, wireless phone charging, 40:20:40 folding rear seats, a head up display, and audio system upgrades.
With a higher hip point, getting in and out of the Q2 is nice and easy, and the high roofline makes front headroom feel vast. In the rear there’s a small premium on legroom, and the sloped roof results in less headroom, though passengers of all heights won’t have a problem fitting in.
The boot defies the Q2’s compact dimensions with 405 litres of storage, or 1050 litres with the standard 60:40 rear seat folded - that’s 25 litres more than an A3 Sportback, but 55 litres under the Q3’s cargo capacity.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 1.4 TFSI 110kW/250Nm 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol, 2.0 TDI 110kW/340Nm 2.0-litre four turbo diesel
- Transmission: Seven-speed dual clutch automatic, front wheel drive (1.4 TFSI) all wheel drive (2.0 TSI)
- Suspension: MacPherson strut front, torsion beam rear (1.4 TFSI) or four-link independent rear (2.0 TSI)
- Brakes: Four-wheel disc brakes
- Steering: electromechanical power steering
- Towing Capacity: 1700kg braked, 650kg unbraked
The engine offerings are the same as you’ll find peppered throughout Audi’s small car range, and that’s no bad thing. Both the 1.4 TFSI petrol and 2.0 TDI diesel are smooth, torquey, and fit well with the Q2’s on-road abilities.
Both engines generate 110kW of power, while the 1.4 TFSI manages 250Nm of torque, and the 2.0 TDI ups that to 340Nm. The petrol engine also includes Cylinder On Demand technology, capable of shutting down two cylinders under low-load conditions to further improve fuel efficiency.
Both engines are matched to a seven-speed dual clutch transmission (Audi calls it S-tronic), matched to front-wheel drive with the 1.4 TFSI or quattro all-wheel drive for the 2.0 TDI.
From behind the wheel, the 1.4 TFSI feels zippy and is right at home in city traffic. Out of town the more revable nature of the petrol motor delivers punchy overtaking with low levels of noise and vibration.
Opt for the 2.0 TDI and acceleration times are claimed to be slightly faster (0-100km/h in 8.5 seconds for the 1.4 TFSI versus 8.1 seconds for the 2.0 TDI), though the relaxed and low-revving nature of the diesel car doesn’t really make it feel any more urgent.
Same goes for when it's out on the open raod, where the strong swell of torque from the diesel does the heavy lifting, making for a quiet cruiser that still runs hard but without the same fizz as the 1.4 TFSI.
With a range of 17-inch, 18-inch, and 19-inch wheels available, ride quality and road noise can vary slightly. Opt for the biggest rims and the Q2 can feel a little stiff jointed over little bumps, but does feels more controlled over bigger dips.
At freeways speeds, both engine and wind noise are nice and low, but tyre noise can become intrusive - depending on both the road surface and the type of tyre fitted, which changes depending on wheel size.
While the Q2 is classed as an SUV for reporting purposes in Australia it’s really more of a crossover, or high-riding hatch. Yes, all-wheel drive is available but there’s no off-road modes or hill descent control, although the raised ride height means it can at least venture a little way off tarmac without worrying about snagging a bumper.
Although not yet part of the range, Audi also promised a 2.0 litre petrol engine will arrive in the second half of 2017, coming with quattro all wheel drive for buyers that might be looking for a more punchy engine option.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
Audi claims the Q2’s market position is unique as the first premium compact SUV, but in truth there’s quite a few competitors very close in size range from Audi’s own Q3, the hatch-like Mercedes-Benz GLA, the incredibly versatile BMW X1, and the design-led Mini Countryman.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
While it might be close in size and price to the Audi Q3 right now, that car is likely to grow in size for its next generation, giving the Q2 some breathing space.
Before that happens though, the fresh-faced Q2 is sure to command plenty of attention thanks to its chunky styling, funky features like contrasting body cladding and C-pillar panels, and on-trend range of bright colours.
Both Design and Sport models sit close together on specification, meaning the decision of which one to choose might come down to a preference for petrol or diesel power. Neither is a poor choice, but if there’s no need for all wheel drive the 1.4 TFSI petrol’s the pick.
Time will tell how long the Q2 maintains its unique kerb appeal for, or if it bows to the pressures of a more mainstream look, but right now the Q2 is the boldest small SUV in the premium segment with the potential to lure buyers away from more mainstream cars.