This is the year that SUV models are tipped to outsell passenger cars, and the Audi Q2 2.0 TDI steps up as a clear next move in the evolution of that unstoppable trend.
Audi already offers a Q3, and it could be thought that this one-digit-down model would be both smaller and cheaper than that old sibling. In the latter case, not so.
The Q2 is smaller, but it’s also lower and sportier than the Q3 that is confirmed to be replaced in 2018. More importantly, the littlest Audi SUV offers styling funk and a more youthful character to its mature sibling – but for about the same outlay of cash.
SUVs are now so popular that Audi clearly believes its Q2 can sit beside Q3 in dealers, wearing similar stickers but aimed at a different buyer shopping within the genre. The question is, does this 2.0 TDI deserve to cost $48K plus (many) options?
Vehicle Style: Small SUV
Price: $47,900 (plus on-road costs)
Engine/trans: 110kW/340Nm 2.0 four-cylinder turbo diesel | seven-speed dual-clutch
Fuel Economy Claimed: 5.0 L/100km | Tested: 6.7 L/100km
The Audi Q2 is available in 1.4 TFSI petrol front-wheel drive guise priced from $41,100 plus on-road costs, and the 2.0 TDI diesel quattro grade as tested here requires at least $47,900 (plus orc). A 2.0 TFSI petrol quattro will arrive later in 2017.
Standard are 17-inch alloy wheels, autonomous emergency braking (AEB), front and rear parking sensors with rear-view camera, leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone climate control and a 7.0-inch screen with satellite navigation; while this 2.0 TDI quattro adds larger 18s, an electric tailgate and a blind-spot monitor.
Its closest rival is the $6000-cheaper Mini Countryman D. Although a front-drive-only proposition, it matches the Audi for kit and then adds equipment it lists as options, such as keyless auto-entry, auto high-beam, active cruise control and digital radio.
Tick the above equipment to the Q2 and it soars towards being $10,000 clear of that rival. And check the below list of options to see how this 2.0 TDI test vehicle elevated itself to $59,300 (plus orc). From the outset, this is one pricey SUV.
- Standard Equipment: Cruise control, leather trim and leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone climate control air-conditioning, power windows and mirrors, automatic headlights/wipers and electric tailgate.
- Infotainment: 7.0-inch colour screen with MMI controller, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, twin SD and USB inputs with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring connectivity, satellite navigation, voice control and eight speakers.
- Options Fitted: Technik package with 8.3in centre screen and 12.3in driver screen with sports steering wheel ($2500), LED headlights and tail-lights with sequential indicators ($2100), panoramic sunroof ($1950), sports front seats with Milano leather ($1800), head-up display ($1050), Assistance package with active cruise control and auto high-beam/lane-keep/reverse-park assist ($990), illuminated interior inlays ($700), 10-speaker audio ($500), 40:20:40 split-fold rear seats ($450) and extended interior elements ($350).
- Cargo Volume: 405 litres.
Audi is renowned for producing high-quality cabins, and mostly the Q2 is no exception. It does, however, trade some of the Q3’s polish for all-round fun and funk. As with the wedgy exterior, this small SUV looks ready to rumble in the urban jungle.
This Audi’s dashboard design takes its cues not from the Q3 but rather the exceptionally dinner-suit-formal A3 hatchback. The climate controls click with tactile precision, the air vents rotate with buttery smoothness, and the screens shine in high-resolution – in our test car featuring a larger centre unit complemented by a Virtual Cockpit colour driver display, all for $2500 extra.
That option alone, however, takes a 2.0 TDI quattro past $50K. The infotainment arrangement all looks and works brilliantly and effortlessly respectively, however, complete with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring connectivity.
Yet a digital radio and 10-speaker audio remain optional, while the $1050 spent on a head-up display only utilises a lower-resolution display that shines on a pop-up piece of clear plastic. It simply isn’t as good as in other Audis that light up the windscreen.
Even then the 2.0 TDI quattro buyer still misses keyless auto-entry, and heated front seats with electric adjustment (basic electric lumbar support is bundled with the other two in a $1900 Comfort package).
The value equation especially looks strained given the Q2 offers hard door trims that are not found in any other Audi. There are splashes of colour around, but funky personalisation inlays such as the backlit orange of our test car add between $350 and $700 extra. And even a base $35K A3 gets rear air-vents, but the Q2 doesn't.
While up-front passengers are comfortable, rear-seat room is ordinary. The Countryman gets air-vents and a sliding back
A 405-litre boot volume is at the smaller end of the segment (the Mini’s is 450L) but then the Q2 is of course a small SUV. It offers chunky charm inside and great (optional) technology that is intuitive to use – but in standard spec the cool cabin feels more like it should have a price starting with a low ‘4’ rather than a sub ‘5’.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 110kW/340Nm 2.0 four-cylinder turbo diesel
- Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, AWD
- Suspension: MacPherson strut front and independent rear
- Brake: Ventilated front and solid rear disc brakes
- Steering: Electrically assisted mechanical steering
Diesel plus quattro expectedly equals effortless efficiency on touring roads, sealed or unsealed – and that is where the Q2 is at its best.
The 2.0 TDI quattro costs a not-inconsiderable $6800 more than the 1.4 TFSI front-wheel drive entry-level model grade, and while this diesel matches the petrol’s 110kW of power, it raises torque from 250Nm to 340Nm.
With claimed combined-cycle fuel consumption of 5.0 litres per 100 kilometres and 0-100km/h in 8.1 seconds, it leaves the more expensive of the pair just 0.4sec quicker and 0.3L/100km thriftier. If all-wheel drive traction isn’t required, then it could especially be a tough surcharge to swallow.
Around town the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder delivers noticeable clatter absent from Audi’s petrol range, which – along with some doughiness off the line – affects this Q2’s refinement and driveability. It is competent rather than semi-premium here.
Beyond some step-off lag from the S tronic seven-speed dual-clutch transmission – when taking off quickly from the traffic lights, for example – the engine/auto combination smoothens out and becomes eminently responsive yet frugal.
However, with a kerb weight of 1475kg the 2.0 TDI quattro is a sizeable 195kg heavier than the 1.4 TFSI front-driver, which also uses a simpler torsion beam rear suspension setup in lieu of the more sophisticated independent setup featured here.
The upshot is the Q2 is starting to feel heavy for its outputs, and circa-10L/100km on-test urban fuel consumption feels high for the performance on offer. Again, get this Audi beyond the city and consumption drops rapidly to a solid 6.7L/100km overall.
This small SUV also feels firm and nippy through country corners, trading most of the lush ride quality of an A3 hatch for extra dartiness and cornering composure.
The steering is direct and sharp, but it suffers from oddly variable weighting – moving from feather-light to stick-in-mud firm – if lock is applied quickly.
A gutsier engine could better tap into the Q2’s seemingly significant dynamic ability, but with this model grade the variable all-wheel drive system is best thought of as an assistant in the Snowies or on rained-out dirt roads. And, with the exception of some coarse-chip road noise, away from main towns is where this setup thrives.
ANCAP rating: 5-Stars – the Audi Q2 scored 35.6 out of 38 possible points when tested by Euro NCAP in 2016.
Safety Features: Seven airbags, ABS and ESC, forward collision alert with autonomous emergency braking (AEB), blind-spot monitor, front and rear parking sensors and reverse-view camera.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/unlimited kilometres.
Servicing: $1950 Audi Service Plan includes trio of checks to three-years/45,000km.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The Countryman is significantly better value and more spacious than this Audi, while the ageing GLA-Class remains best in sub-$60K GLA250 petrol form – at that price, an optioned Q2 doesn’t (yet) have a petrol answer.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
With sharp styling and a colourful cabin, this Audi can’t be accused of being boring.
In that way the Q2 is very different to the Q3. Really, however, this small SUV feels more like an alternative to an A3 hatch – a model range priced from $36K. And while diesel is no longer available in that series, an A3 2.0 TFSI quattro offers 140kW and 6.2sec 0-100km/h performance for $46,100 (plus orc).
It simply makes this small SUV feel too expensive, especially given its long options list and the fact that it trades cabin quality and rear air-vents standard in A3. In the mainstream small SUV segment a Mazda CX-3 is about the same price as a Mazda3 hatch – so the question is, why can’t Q2 match an equivalent A3 hatch’s pricetag?
The 2.0 TDI quattro is fun and agile, but for the moment the 1.4 TFSI is far better value, while it could be worth waiting for the 2.0 TFSI quattro arriving this year – and hopefully without any more of a price hike – if power to all four wheels is a must.
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