Audi Q2 review: Small car making a big statement

SUV crossover is a premium model, but will car buyers find it too dear for a ‘small’ car?

Make: Audi

Model: Q2

Year: 2017

Fuel: Petrol

Date Reviewed: January 12, 2017

Wed, Jan 18, 2017, 05:00

   

The onslaught of diminutive SUVs continues apace. The SUV revolution has reached its inevitable conclusion. From coupe variants to convertible, high-performance racers and now a range of supermini-sized crossovers, we are close to “peak SUV” on dealer forecourts.

The fact that Ireland’s best-selling car last year was the Hyundai Tucson says it all. Sales of such vehicles now represent nearly a quarter of the entire new car market.

There is a subtle difference between these small crossovers coming to market, however. They fall into two camps: those offering improved family practicality with SUV styling to former hatchback buyers and those aimed at empty-nesters or singles who care more about posing than practicality.

This latest Audi seems ideally suited to the latter image-conscious cohort, the crossover couple if you want to name the stereotype. Admittedly our view was slightly skewed by the fact our test car came in retina-scorching Vegas yellow, but the Q2 makes a big statement for a small car.

Toyota is trying something similar with its new CH-R, but Audi has the benefit of the premium badge, even if the price is premium as well for this market.

The German brand comes to the market with well-established credentials in the SUV segment, its Q range of cars occupying the driveways of many leafy suburbs. But can it brave the rough and tumble of the smaller market? After all, premium superminis have never caught the Irish public’s appetite, as Audi can attest with its current A1. We can’t seem to get our heads around paying premium prices for small cars.

Yet just like the A1, there’s a case to be made for well-heeled folks without family commitments downsizing their cars but still being able to retain most of the luxury touches from larger premium models.

In styling terms the Q2 doesn’t try too hard to pretend to be a beefy SUV. It’s lower set and sleeker than more bulky rivals and doesn’t have the bulbous roof that marks some rivals attempts to mimic the off-road look. It looks closer to a high-set A3 than the actual crossover supposedly marketing its patch, the Q3.

The trade-off is clearly in terms of practicality. The Q2 comes in at a similar length to the Nissan Juke and is shorter than the likes of the Nissan Qashqai, the Mini Countryman or even Toyota’s new CH-R. The back seats can accommodate two adults, but the bulky middle of the bench means it is best reserved for children – and the boldest of the bunch. Bootspace also drops from 420 litres in the Q3 to 405 litres in this car.

Driver engagement

The Q2’s engine range comprises a choice of petrol engines – a 1-litre 115bhp or a 1.4-litre 150bhp – but the diesel will remain the most popular option, offered in 1.6-litre 115bhp or 2-litre with either 150bhp or 190bhp output. All but the most powerful diesel are offered with either six-speed manual or seven-speed S-Tronic automatic.

Our test car was the 1.4-litre petrol 150bhp with the dual-clutch S-Tronic transmission. It seems odd to be in petrol crossover, but for many of the buyers of this car it makes perfect sense. These are largely low-mileage motorists and the 1.4-litre delivers a credible 5.5 l/100km to 5.7 l/100km (50mpg to 55mpg).

The biggest surprise is that, for Audi crossovers, smaller is actually better when it comes to driving. Whereas the Q3 fails to deliver much in terms of driver engagement, the shorter Q2 feels much more agile. Despite its higher stance, the little front-wheel-drive crossover copes well with Irish back roads while the steering is really responsive.

Options list

Inside you get one of the smartest cabins in any crossover out there. The test car was in S-line, which adds €3,300 to the price but also – thanks to the larger 18-inch wheels – increases the emissions from 119g/km to 123g/km, and therefore the annual motor tax by €70 a year.

Along with the bigger alloys, the S-line pack adds sports suspension, LED front and rear lights, sports seats and funky LED interior lighting. None of this would justify the extra spend for us. If you have the cash to hand, then it’s better spent on the options list, where you can pick up Audi’s well-regarded 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster – known as the virtual cockpit – for €443. Trust me, you can spend €3,000 on the Audi options list in the blink of an eye.

Which brings us to the price. Starting at €30,800 for the 1-litre version in manual, the Q2 is at the top end of the market even before you start to get into larger engines. It’s easy to see how prices could touch over €35,000 by the time a buyer leaves the forecourt. That’s in the same price range as a mid-level A3, hatchback or saloon. As such it may suffer the same fate of high-priced superminis when it comes to volume sales.

Like many Irish car buyers I struggle with paying this sort of cash for a car of this size, but the car itself is a proper premium package. With buyers seemingly fixated on the crossover format, the Q2 has a real chance to change the market, but I suspect Irish buyers will either opt for the practicality of lower-priced rivals or opt for the likes of the A3 saloon. Yet I’m happy to be proved wrong.

Lowdown: Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI S-Tronic S-line

Powertrain: 1395cc, four-cylinder petrol engine putting out 150bhp @ 5,000rpm with 250Nm of torque at 1,500rpm and mated to Audi’s seven-speed dual-clutch S Tronic automatic transmission

0-100km/h: 8.5 seconds

L/100 km (mpg): 5.5 (51.4)

Emissions: 119 g/km to 123 g/km (€200 to €270)

Prices: Starting at €30,800 (€39,130 as tested)

Our rating: 4/5

Verdict: A crossover more focused on style than practicality, but the end result is impressive even with its premium price