The 1.4 TSI engine’s flexibility makes city driving a breeze
It’s as roomy as a Golf up front but doesn’t have as many cubbies
Boot has enough space for a weekly shop and a minor splurge on new clothes
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Diane and Gary were considering a Q3 because they’ve been so impressed with the brand that they want to stay with it, but needed four doors instead of two and better access to the rear seats so they could take both grandchildren out.
Although the Q2 didn’t offer as much rear seat space as a Q3, they liked the high seating position, especially in the back compared with their A3, and found the 1.4-litre petrol engine surprisingly responsive compared with their current 2.0-litre diesel. Their A3 has fairly stiff S line sports suspension, so they also found the Q2’s set-up more comfortable over potholes and speed bumps.
Criticisms were only minor, focusing on the hard plastic trim on the top of the door panels and the non-retractable infotainment screen. They’ve yet to try a Q3, but may now opt for a Q2 instead.
Other relatives have appreciated the Q2 recently, too. My parents, who are both in their 70s, find it easier to get in and out of the Q2 than my previous VW Golf because the doors open wide and the seats are higher.
The Q2 also proved a swift, comfortable way of getting my mum to A&E a couple of weeks ago after she broke her shoulder and arm.
I’m really getting to grips with the Q2’s two-cylinder deactivation mode. I can now cruise most of the way between J9 and J12 on the M25 (about 25 miles and part of my daily commute) on two cylinders, giving me more than 50mpg on that stretch. It hasn’t improved economy overall, though, mainly because I’m also racking up urban miles.
One small annoyance is that the cupholders in the centre console aren’t wide enough for the travel mug I got for Mother’s Day and it tips up and spills if it’s left in the door bin. I’ll need to ask for a new one for my birthday.
I've started to master my Audi Q2’s cylinder on demand (CoD) engine technology.
CoD deactivates two cylinders at loads of up to 73.8lb ft on a constant throttle between 2000 and 3200rpm. Pins are extended in milliseconds to activate sleeves on the camshafts, stopping injection and ignition.
I’ve found it activates in town if I drive at just over 30mph and 2000rpm and in third gear. Doing this increases the economy on the dash readout from mid-20mpg from a cold start to a peak of 55mpg within 8-10 miles. I’ve not yet seen the system cut in at higher speeds, but I’m working on it.
Not all the Q2’s clever technology is as smart as CoD. The automatic emergency braking seems overly sensitive, and it’s slammed on the brakes a couple of times when I’ve been about to undertake a stationary car that’s turning right. In contrast, the automatic headlights don’t detect cars ahead that are to the side of my car, so it dazzles the oncoming driver.
The Audi doesn’t have as much rear leg room as my previous VW Golf, but my parents and 16-year-old daughter were happy enough on an hour’s drive to a pub for Sunday lunch. A Mother’s Day shopping spree was more of a challenge, but it turns out you can get three people, three hanging baskets, lawn edging, compost, various plants and a 5ft weeping willow in a Q2 – just. The front passenger does, though, have to sit in an overly reclined seat with tree branches poking him in the face.
You’d be forgiven for thinking the Audi Q2 is all about appearances. After all, it’s built on the VW Group’s versatile MQB platform, which is the basis for the VW Golf, Audi A3 and Skoda Octavia, as well as the latest SUVs, such as the Seat Ateca and Skoda Kodiaq.
So is the Q2 just a Golf wrapped in a tall, rugged-looking new body? We’ll find out in time, but every sign is that the Q2 is bristling with the kind of advanced ‘big car’ technology that makes Audi a premium playerin the car market. For example, the Q2 we’ve just taken delivery of is fitted with the VW Group’s engine efficiency technology. Audi calls it Cylinder on Demand, and its clever trick is that it can make the 1.4-litre engine run on two of its four cylinders to save fuel during periods of low revs.
When the engine is running at below 4000rpm and the amount of torque being used is below a third of its full 184lb ft, the technology shuts down the middle pair of cylinders of the inline four. The process itself is imperceptible, although you can call up a display on the instrument screen to show when the cylinders have been deactivated.
It’s early days, but so far I’m managing around 45mpg on gentle motorway cruises and just below 40mpg on urban commutes. While this isn’t as frugal as my previous 1.0-litre Golf Bluemotion, the Q2’sbigger engine is more f lexible, so I don’t have to change gear so often to make swift progress around town. Gearchanges from the six-speed manual gearbox are neat and precise when I do make them, too.
I’m also appreciating the opulence of the Q2’s interior, which is a comfortable and attractive place to be on my daily 45-mile each-way commute. We’ve splashed out on Black Milano leather trim, which is pricey at £1300, but it provides sports seats clad in fine, soft leather instead of fabric; it makes the hide in rivals, such as the Mini Countryman, seem overly thick and unrefined.
The Q2 isn’t the car for anyone on a tight budget, though. Our car is in second-tier Sport specification, which means it costs nearly £24,000 without any options. That price is steep for a small SUV, but we’vealso added metallic paint, LED headlights and the Driver Assistance and Comfort packs, all of which has edged the total cost of our car to within sight of £30,000.
Chilly early mornings have already been made cosier by the heated front seats and responsive dual-zone climate control that come with the Comfort pack. The Driver Assistance pack provides active lane assistance, camera-based traffic sign recognition and an acoustic and visual parking assist system.
It also adds an auto dip function to the optional LED headlights; this seems like a good idea in theory, but in practice the lights don’t always switch to high beam when you want them to and there’s a slight delay in them switching back to low beam that makes me worry that I’m dazzling oncoming traffic. I’ve been overriding them half the time when I’m on unlit roads.
One standard feature that has already earned my respect is the automatic emergency braking system. After one hiccup when it activated fairly violently while I was driving beside an HGV on a narrow motorway slip road, it has since proved a real help on busy city streets. It has flashed up visual warnings when vehicles in front are slowing down and also added extra power to my braking when a van with (apparently broken) brake lights stopped suddenly ahead of me.
So what about the Q2’s looks?
With its super-sized octagonal grille, concave flanks and contrasting C-pillar blades, there’s no doubt that this is a car that wants to be noticed. And all of a sudden, instead of blending in with the crowd as I had in my previous Golf, I’m the one turning heads. Well, the Q2 is, at least.
On my first drive in the small Audi SUV I got let out of junctions and found drivers of other cars sidling up against me so they could ogle my car.
Drivers of Audi SUVs such as the Q3 and Q5 are the most amusing because they tend to do a double take as they realise my new car is not the same as theirs, but in fact a scaled-down version. Even though it’s Audi’s smallest SUV so far and is supposed to be an upmarket rival to the Nissan Juke and aforementioned Countryman, it has as much room up front as a Golf. It doesn’t have all of the VW’s useful storage cubbies, but there is at least enough space for my mug of tea and mobile phone.
While the rear bench isn’t quite as accommodating, I’ve had three tall teenagers in the back seat and only the tallest, who is 6ft 4in, felt that his head and knees were squashed.
The boot can swallow a weekly grocery shop combined with a small clothes shopping spree. We filled the boot but didn’t have to resort to piling our bags on the rear seats.
After 2000 miles I’m starting to get properly acquainted with the Q2. It doesn’t quite have the handling aplomb of my Golf, but it does have style, a strong engine, a fairly practical and cosseting interior and a reasonable amount of space. I think we’re going to get along fine. Claire evans