Audi Q2 SUV (2016 - ) review
Audi reckons the Q2 is the answer to the prayers of stylish hipsters looking for a compact SUV with a premium build and image.
Interested in buying Audi Q2?
The Q2 has clearly been designed with fashionistas in mind, which goes some way to explaining why it deviates from the cookie-cutter approach of the current crop of Audi SUVs and instead, offers something more visually striking. Yes, it still bears some family resemblance to the A3 Sportback, but the strong character lines that run along the flanks, plus the enlarged rear quarter panels that Audi calls ‘blades’, give the Q2 a clear identity in its own right. With a nod to customisation, you can spec your Q2 with body-coloured wheelarch and sill extensions or swap them for contrasting smoked grey items. All versions come on alloy wheels, but the top spec S-Line package accentuates the car’s striking lines with full-on 18-inch rims.
The modern-yet-minimalist style of most Audi cabins is hugely desirable, if slightly reserved, but the Q2 adds a welcome injection of vibrant colour. There are red, yellow or silver themes available for the dashboard inlays, seats and contrasting stitching, plus gesture-controlled LED lighting that illuminates the cabin in sharp white light. Meanwhile, all the controls are robust, sturdy and precise. The large standard infotainment screen isn’t touch-sensitive and is fixed on the dashboard, but all the information is clearly presented, and the rotary control that you use to scroll through the menus is beautifully weighted and easy to use on the move. However, although you sit in a slightly raised position, the roofline is quite low, so it feels more like you’re in a slightly taller hatchback than a 'proper' SUV.
Despite the compact dimensions (the Q2 is marginally shorter than the Audi Q3 SUV), it’s still easy to fit one six-foot adult behind another comfortably. There are ISOFIX tethering hooks on the rear seats to make it quick and easy to install child car seats, too. The boot provides 405 litres of space with the rear seats in place, which is a little bigger than an Audi A3 and only slightly smaller than the Q3. At least there’s a through-loading facility for skis and, when the seats fold flat, there is a very useful 1050 litres available. Unfortunately, the stylish rear pillars do create some pretty huge blind spots when reversing, so parking sensors or a reversing camera are must-have options.
Ride and handling
Providing you spec it correctly, the Q2 is a composed and comfortable small car that will do an impressive job of isolating you and your loved ones from the battered surfaces that cover most of the UK. Audi has obviously done its homework in this country, as even S line cars (that would normally come on firmer sports suspension) are fitted with standard suspension settings. You can still specify the sports set-up as a no-cost option, but having tried it, we’d advise against it, as it makes the ride become quite firm and easily agitated.
In terms of its handling, the Q2 feels more hatchback than SUV. The steering is at its best when the car is fitted with standard 16-inch wheels, feeling light, accurate and well connected. Up the wheel size, and while the amount of effort on the driver's part increases, the feel and connection both decrease. We’ve yet to drive Quattro four-wheel-drive cars, which get more sophisticated rear suspension and the option of adjustable dampers here in the UK; but, given the competence of the front-wheel drive cars, and the price premium Quattro models command, we suspect the extra cash will be hard to justify.
There are six engines to choose from: three turbocharged petrol engines and three diesel units. The entry-level 114bhp 1.0-litre petrol has a cheeky three-cylinder thrum, and when combined with the light action of the six-speed manual gearbox, it works enthusiastically in town. The 114bhp 1.6 diesel is a far noisier affair, and is especially coarse and vocal when pulling away from the mark, driving some hefty shudders into the cabin as you release the clutch pedal. Thankfully, it’s a good deal smoother and quieter when settled into a cruise.
The pick of the range, however, is the 148bhp 1.4 turbocharged petrol engine. It’s an impressively smooth and flexible motor, and while we’re not talking hot-hatch levels of performance, it is pretty punchy in the middle of the rev range, and delivers surprisingly rapid performance. This is especially true when matched with the seven-speed S tronic gearbox. Although the gearchanges can sound and feel a wee bit jerky when trundling along in slow-moving traffic, the shifts are generally smooth and rapid once the engine is into its stride.
The Q2 is priced competitively in the compact SUV segment, sitting between rivals such as the Mini Countryman and Mercedes-Benz GLA. Uncharacteristically for an Audi, the Q2 also features a generous amount of standard equipment that would be optional on other models in its range. The 1.6 TDI is currently the cleanest engine, emitting 114g/km of CO2. Then again, our pick of the range, the 1.4-litre petrol engine, is no slouch when it comes to fuel economy, either, thanks to its clever Cylinder-on-Demand technology, which shuts down two of its four cylinders when they're not needed, to save fuel and reduce emissions. Strong residual values and a fixed annual service plan should also help make the monthly finance costs on any version relatively easy to manage.
All versions of the Q2 have a three-year roadside assistance plan and three-year warranty, covering an unlimited mileage in the first two years. However, you also have the option of extending this to a four- or five-year warranty plan. Reliability data on the Audi marque is mixed: the engines may be shared with other models in the range and proven, but there has been repeated criticism from owners about the electrics on the A3, as well as longer-term issues regarding the DSG gearbox on the Q3.
All versions of the Q2 come with six airbags and Audi 'Pre Sense' with pedestrian recognition, a system that can monitor potential low-speed accidents and initiate hard braking if it's necessary. There are further optional safety features, too, such as adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, traffic sign recognition and park assist. You can also choose the optional head-up display that projects your speed and navigation instructions onto the windscreen, so the driver rarely needs to take their eyes off the road. However, even with just the standard package, the Q2 performed well enough to earn a maximum five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP.
The Q2 is available in SE, Sport and S line trims, and every version comes with alloy wheels, DAB radio and smartphone integration as standard. The best-selling Sport trim adds 17-inch alloys, satellite-navigation, cruise control and Audi’s multiple driver modes.
There are also some pretty tasty options, if you fancy bliging up your Q2. First up is the dynamic, digital 12-inch screen that Audi calls the ‘virtual cockpit’ and which replaces the traditional speedometer and tachometer dials. Audiophiles will appreciate the Bang and Olufsen sound system, while tech-savvy drivers will want the WiFi hotspot that allows you and your passengers to surf the internet and stream music into the cabin when it’s safe to do so. There’s also an app that allows you to sync your smartphone with the car’s infotainment screen, so you can transfer calendar information and navigation instructions directly into the car. To help reduce costs, Audi even bundles some of these core options into so-called 'Technology Packs' or 'Comfort Packs'.
If you want the look and chunky stance of a compact SUV, and you’ve no intention on venturing into the outback, then the Q2 should definitely be on your shopping list. It has all the quality, technology and desirability that you’d expect of an Audi and it’s also encouragingly fun to drive, especially if you order the 1.4-litre petrol version on standard wheels and suspension. With that specification, it will be a joy to drive, affordable to run and depreciate slowly into the bargain.