What is it?
If two’s company and three’s a crowd, what’s the idea behind Audi adding a fourth SUV to its range? And does that make a gaggle, a herd or a murder of SUVs? Anyway, it’s called the Audi Q2 and no doubt this smallest soft-roader in the range will make damn good business sense: as we all know, the way to bump up your bottom line is with a plucky off-roader.
It’s intended as a stepping stone from the A3 Sportback into the exciting world of SUV ownership. The hope is you’ll begin a journey that’ll take you through the Q3 and Q5 all the way to the Q7 some time hence.
As with the A3, the Q2 uses the MQB-A platform. Audi has chosen the shorter wheelbase from the two-door A3, rather than the longer Sportback, and added some extra stiffness to cope with the higher, heavier body and larger wheel options.
This is the least powerful engine in the range: the petrol 1.0 TFSI triple. It’s a cracking engine in its other installations, but is it up to the job of hauling an SUV?
What's it like?
You can't expect towering pace with just 114bhp and 148lb ft of torque, but this cheeky three-cylinder engine feels like an eager beaver. When you're making a standing start, you must have 2000rpm dialled up or it will tend to bog down, but from then on, it revs up to its redline steadily and uniformly. It's one of those triples that sounds fruity rather than rough and won't buzz you to distraction with vibrations through the controls.
It comes with a six-speed manual gearbox and there’s no auto option. But that’s fine, because the gearbox has a light and slick shift quality.
And for once, our car test car wasn’t dolled up to the nines. It had 17in wheels, conventional passive dampers and no switchable drive modes. Before you gasp in horror at the simplicity, it actually worked fine. Yes, we were restricted to Swiss roads that felt as if a person with OCD and a rolling pin had laid every inch of asphalt, but the Q2 rode what bumps we could find decidedly well. Only a slight pogo effect to the high-speed primary ride blotted its copybook.
For a tall-ish vehicle, it’s nimble, too. Show it a series of S-bends and it’ll change direction sharply, corner relatively flat and grip hard until the inevitable wash of understeer calls time.
The passive variable-ratio rack adds to the mix, offering a wickedly sharp turn-in but without the ill effects of nervousness at high speed.
Speaking of high speed, cruising refinement is also one of the Q2’s strengths. At a steady 70mph, the engine recedes into the background and both wind and road noise are kept well at bay.
What about the rest of the car? Well, the high-up driving position will suit the SUV fraternity and the seats are perfectly comfortable. And for a car of still relatively small exterior proportions, the cabin’s big: there's space for a family of four and a boot to match.
The toys are good as well. Emergency city braking is standard, and you can pick from a range of options that include Audi’s Virtual Cockpit and adaptive dampers. Sat-nav is standard on Sport trim upwards, and Google Maps, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are all available. For the personal touch, there are apparently up to five million customisable interior variations. Do make sure you get to your dealer early doors and ask the salesman to run through all of those.
Should I buy one?
We can’t believe this car won’t be a hit. It’s about as good to drive as a small SUV gets but hasn’t forgotten its first duty as a practical family hack.
The 1.0 TFSI is remarkably capable, but if possible, we’d stretch to the more powerful 148bhp 1.4 TFSI petrol. It has the extra muscle to exploit the Q2’s capable handling but, with cylinder-on-demand tech, should also keep your fuel bills reasonably low. Either way, if two's company and three's a crowd, four could just be Audi’s lucky number.
Audi Q2 1.0 TFSI SE manual
Location Switzerland; On sale November; Price £20,230; Engine 3 cyls, 999cc, turbo, petrol; Power 114bhp at 5000rpm; Torque 148lb ft at 2000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight tbc; Top speed 118mph (est); 0-62mph tbc; Economy tbc; CO2/tax band tbc