Order books for the all-new Audi Q2 have officially opened in Britain, with the car costing from £22,380.
Two of the model's five confirmed UK engine options are available to order at launch: a 148bhp 1.4-litre TFSI petrol and a 114bhp 1.6-litre TDI diesel. The petrol unit is the current entry-level engine; it features cylinder-on-demand technology, offers up to 54.3mpg combined fuel economy, and provides a 0-62mph time of 8.5sec. The diesel engine returns a combined 64.2mpg and can complete the same sprint in 10.3sec.
Later this year, Audi will adda 1.0-litre TFSI engine that produces 113bhp and features cylinder-on-demand technology to the bottom of the Q2 range, reducing the car's entry-level price to £20,230. Added above that engine will be a 2.0-litre TDI diesel, which produces 148bhp.
From mid-2017, the final and most potent engine, a 187bhp 2.0-litre TFSI petrol, will join the ranks, exclusively with Audi's quattro all-wheel drive system and an S tronic automatic gearbox.
All other engines are offered in two-wheel-drive with a six-speed manual as standard. Quattro will be offered as an option with the rest of the TFSI engines and the 148bhp diesel from mid-2017. The system uses Haldex-clutch technology to enable torque vectoring and decoupling.
The Q2 is on sale in the UK with three standard trim levels: SE, Sport and S line.
Entry-level SE trim Q2s has 16in alloys, a 7.0in infotainment screen and variable damper settings, while mid-range Sport models come with 17in alloys and Ice Silver C-pillar side blades.
Q2s in S line trim get 18in alloys, LED headlights and cloth and leather upholstery, plus a no-cost option to upgrade to sports suspension.
From September 2016, the Q2 will be available to order in range-topping Edition #1 guise, for a limited time only; it will cost from £31,170. The Edition #1 model gets 19in wheels and more standard kit than the regular range, including a black styling pack for the exterior and Nappa leather for the cabin.
Audi is offering the Q2 with its variable damper technology, helping to broaden the car’s breadth of on-road abilities. Sports suspension that lowers ride height by 10mm is available, while variable-ratio steering comes as standard.
The Q2 can be cycled through four drive modes: Auto, Comfort, Dynamic and Efficiency. Cars equipped with Audi’s latest MMI infotainment system have an additional Individual mode that allows drivers to customise settings to their preferences.
Audi says the Q2 has the ability to venture off-road. When the electronic stability control (ESC) is set to off-road mode, the car’s drivetrain adjusts to work in slippery conditions and ground clearance is increased to 200mm. Nevertheless, the Q2's Pirelli P Zero road tyres confirm its true purpose.
A long list of safety and driver assistance features are fitted to the Q2, many of which are new to this class. Heading the list is a pedestrian and collision prevention automatic braking function, with traffic jam assist and adaptive cruise control making use of the same hardware.
Additionally, the Q2 gets camera-based active lane assist and traffic sign recognition technology, with parking assist systems also available.
Inside, Audi’s optional virtual cockpit and head-up display will allow drivers to customise displays to show things such as sat-nav and media information. Additionally, cars equipped with MMI infotainment will be able to stream online media and connect with smartphones via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The rugged-looking small SUV is smaller than an A3 Sportback and weighs just 1205kg.
Audi says the new model has been built to cater for the demands of young, urban drivers, and hopes it will draw new buyers to the brand. As such, it gets a distinctive exterior that introduces several new design traits.
At the front, there’s a new single-frame grille with polygon details, and the headlights are slightly more squared off than those of recent Audi models. Further back, there’s an R8-style contrastingly coloured blade on the C-pillar, and the tail-lights premiere a new design, with Audi’s latest 'swooping' indicators.
The car’s overall shape is distinctive in Audi’s line-up, largely due to its taut proportions, but also thanks to a hunched shoulder-line that features a unique sliced section.
Function follows form; the new Q2 benefits from a raft of practicality-boosting features. Audi claims that the car’s small SUV roofline means interior headroom is more generous than the A3’s, and clever packaging enables the boot to swallow 405 litres of luggage. Optional 40/20/40 folding rear seats increase flexibility for storage, while also enabling that maximum volume to grow to 1050 litres.
The bootlid has a deliberately wide opening for easy access, and the tailgate can be powered.
The car comes as a five-door five-seater only, with front-wheel drive the default set-up.
The Q2 is a unique offering in the compact crossover segment, because its cabin and engine line-up are more comparable with larger models. As a result, similarly sized models such as the Skoda Yeti start at significantly less - the entry-level Yeti retails for £17,210, which is £3020 less than the base Q2 - and even the larger Nissan Qashqai starts at a comparably cheap £18,545.
However, the Audi model's inclusion of Virtual Cockpit technology and its overall more premium fit and finish arguably make it more of a rival to the £25,260 Mercedes GLA. Like the Qashqai, the GLA is larger, but the Audi's trendier look could sway image conscious buyers in its direction.