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Audi downsizes its Q-badged SUV line-up by one more notch, but can the Q2 drive inspire buyers to forgo the Seat Ateca and Mini Countryman?

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The Audi Q2, the firm’s smallest compact crossover first went on sale in 2016 as the new entry point into the German firm’s SUV model range.

The good news for second-hand buyers is that this has given prices plenty of time to fall. Equally enticing, the Q2 is excellent to drive, both in town and on the motorway, and it comes with a wide array of equipment. All of which makes it a shrewd choice for used buyers.

Q2’s design style is ‘Polygonal’, which means ‘inspired by Kryten from Red Dwarf’s head’, we think

If you’re drawn by its exterior design, you’ll probably like the cabin, too. Based on the Audi A3’s, it is a tidier offering than the Mini Countryman’s and is a class above the Nissan Juke’s and DS 4’s. The Q2 also offers a composed ride and a selection of capable engines to bolster its overall appeal.

There’s a choice of petrol or diesel and a six-speed manual or sevenspeed S Tronic dual-clutch gearbox.

The petrol line-up starts with a 113bhp 1.0-litre TFSI, which is good for 0-62mph in 10.1sec. The midrange 1.4-litre TFSI produces 148bhp and takes 8.5sec to hit 62mph. A 187bhp 2.0-litre petrol unit enables a hot-hatch-esque 0-62mph sprint of 6.5sec and is available exclusively with Quattro four-wheel drive.

There's two diesels, too, too: a 113bhp 1.6-litre TDI offering up to 64.2mpg combined; and a 148bhp 2.0-litre range-topper with Quattro four-wheel drive and the potential to achieve 57.6mpg combined and 0-62mph in 7.8sec.

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The ultimate choice is the Audi SQ2, which we've reviewed separately.

Earlier cars have three trim levels. SE opens the line-up, with 16in wheels, a 7.0in infotainment system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, heated mirrors and variable dampers.

Sport, originally available for £1550 more than SE, adds 17in wheels, five selectable driving modes, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, sports seats and silver C-pillars.

Range-topping S Line cars originally commanded a £2250 premium over Sport and they feature more aggressive exterior styling, 18in wheels, LED lights at the front and rear, dynamic indicators, leather sports seats and ambient lighting.

A 2021 update introduced several sharper styling tweaks and revised trim levels. LED lights, an electric boot, rear parking sensors and cruise control became standard on the new entry-level trim, called Technik.

Sport and S Line gained a digital cockpit and an 8.3in touchscreen, while a new Black Edition added bespoke, black exterior styling.

A new top-rung trim, Vorsprung, received adaptive sport suspension, a rear-view camera and adaptive cruise control. Meanwhile, the entry-level engine was also changed to a 1.5-litre petrol unit (again producing 148bhp). The diesel Q2 line-up was removed from sale earlier this year.

When we tested the car in 2016, we chose an Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI Sport to provide an introduction to Audi’s new SUV chapter. Here's what we thought...

DESIGN & STYLING

Audi Q2 rear

To someone unfamiliar with Audi’s overarching model positioning strategy but familiar with the Audi Q3, it might seem odd that the company isn’t choosing to launch a new small crossover that’s, well, a bit smaller than this.

At 4191mm in overall length, the Q2 is almost 200mm shorter than the Q3 and shorter even than the three-door Audi A3 hatchback, slotting in between the Mini Countryman and Skoda Yeti in terms of overall size.

Our Q2 came with the optional Comfort Pack, including heated front seats, dual-zone climate control and rear parking sensors — two of which are standard in a mid-range Ateca

It could have been shorter still; plenty of jacked-up superminis are. But this is Audi, remember, and these days it rarely settles for one new model where there’s room for a couple. So don’t be surprised if another odd-numbered Q-car pops in at the very foot of the firm’s SUV range in a few years’ time, carrying the sub-£20,000 entry point that the Q2 narrowly misses.

The car’s distinguishing styling features are many and pleasing to see from a firm so used to playing it safe with evolutionary updates.

The Q2’s ‘single-frame’ radiator grille looks even more dominant here than on other small Audis, switching from hexagonal to octagonal form.

The car’s flanks are slightly concave, decorated by an innovative chamfered shoulderline and a C-pillar ‘blade’ in a contrasting colour on most trim levels.

At the rear, a plunging coupé roofline is complemented by a raked rear screen, oversized tail-lights and plenty of surface interplay on the tailgate. You can decide for yourself if what results is a good-looking car – but it’s clearly trying to be one.

Underneath, the Q2 has a predictable but promising make-up. Kicking off the range is a turbocharged 1.0-litre, three-cylinder unit pumping out 114bhp, this is followed by a 148bhp 1.4-litre TFSI and topped by an all-paw 2.0 TFSI punching out 187bhp. The diesel range is made up of a 114bhp 1.6 TDI and 148bhp 2.0 TDI, with the latter powering all four wheels through Audi's quattro system.

Those engines mount transversely and drive the front wheels as standard, with clutch-based four-wheel drive, capable of sending up to 50 percent of the torque rearwards, standard on the range-topping petrol and diesel engines and optional with the mid-range oil-burner.

Gearboxes are either six-speed manuals or seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatics.

Opt for quattro and you’ll get a car with independent multi-link rear suspension; stick with front-wheel drive and your rear axle is suspended via a torsion beam.

But all Q2s benefit from a progressive-rate electromechanical power steering system whose directness increases with steering angle, while adaptive dampers are available as an £875 option and allow the driver to soften or firm up the ride as desired.

INTERIOR

Audi Q2 interior

Audi’s impressive run of compelling and high-quality interiors does not fall at the Q2 hurdle.

Derived for the most part from the latest Audi A3, the cabin towers over mainstream competition such as the DS 4 and Nissan Juke in terms of fit and finish.

If you’ve well and truly drunk the Kool-Aid, the Q2 can be had in Edition #1 form, which gets you 19in wheels, Quantum grey paint and C-pillars in enigmatic gloss black

It’s aesthetically pleasing, too, Ingolstadt having gone cleverly two-tone with a slightly revised dashboard in an effort to wring a little more dynamism from the familiar styling.

Side-by-side fingertip analysis would suggest that Audi has taken the opportunity to make some bottom-line savings compared with the material choices made in the A3, but none is dramatic enough to sully the first-rate impression the Q2 gives off.

Its proportions are essentially on the money, too. Given the model’s stunted length, you could hardly expect more space than it provides.

Leg room in the rear is equal to that of a well-packaged modern supermini, meaning that you’ll get an average-sized adult behind an average-sized adult, and because the roofline is modestly higher than in a hatchback, there’s the impression of greater space once seated.

Seating a third occupant in the rear would have to be a temporary arrangement, although the same could be said of the larger Audi Q3 and comes as no surprise anyway.

Given the right-sized nature of the cabin, it’s to Audi’s credit that there’s been no sacrifice of boot space practicality. Indeed, the manufacturer suggests there’s only a 15-litre capacity difference between the Q2 and Q3 – and at 405 litres, the crossover is rated as marginally more capacious than the A3 Sportback.

A double floor contributes to that, though, increasing volume in its lower position but leaving you with a mighty lip to negotiate when hauling items in and out.

The upper setting eliminates that – providing you with a totally flat load space when you lower the rear seats – and is probably the position most owners will opt for, even with the capacity forfeit.

Audi’s MMI system has evolved into an admirable bit of kit, and doubtless buyers will appreciate the fact that even the cheapest Q2 earns the basic set-up, incorporating both Bluetooth and DAB.

Expect both to operate faultlessly, functionality being one of MMI’s strongest suits. This is actually slightly easier (or more familiar, at least) with the dial-style controller than with the cost-option Virtual Cockpit, although the latter is likely to remain highly desirable come resale.

Our test car did without it but added sat-nav as part of Sport trim. The SD card-based system is highly commendable, and with an embedded data SIM and three months of Audi Connect thrown in, it adds Google Earth and Google Street View to its capabilities.

The standard phone interface means integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is also seamless, as long as you don’t mind using the USB socket rather than Bluetooth to pair your mobile.

The standard stereo is okay but can be upgraded to Audi’s 10-speaker Sound System for £255, or to B&O’s 705W, 14-speaker set-up for £700.

As for trim levels, there are four to choose from - SE, Sport, S line and Edition 1. Entry-level models get 16in alloy wheels, halogen headlights, Audi's progressive steering and dynamic suspension set-up, rear parking sensors, cruise control and autonomous emergency braking as standard. Inside there is air conditioning, interior lighting and floor mats alongside Audi's MMI infotainment system.

Upgrade to Sport, and the Q2 is adorned with 17in alloy wheels, automatic lights and wipers, front sports seats and lots of aluminium interior trim, while opting for S line adds 18in alloy wheels, sports suspension, LED headlights, an aggressively-styled bodykit, a cloth and leather upholstery and a LED ambient interior lighting,

Topping the range is the Edition 1, which gains most of the luxuries on the S line trim and equips the Q2 with 19in alloy wheels, a Nappa leather upholstery, and an exclusive Quantum grey paint job.

ENGINES & PERFORMANCE

Audi Q2 side profile

With only the front wheels to drive, the 1.4 TFSI ought to have been the ideal engine to supply the airy spiritedness that Audi claims for the Q2.

With 184lb ft nominally on tap from 1500rpm, it has proved itself worthy in previous applications, and we expected nothing less this time.

Unlike the closely related Yeti and Ateca, though, the newest member of the club is built at Audi headquarters in Ingolstadt

Perusing the figures, you might assume that the four-cylinder unit has delivered, given its 0-60mph time of 8.1sec, but the through-gear acceleration doesn’t provide the full picture.

Away from the compulsory business of driving flat out on Millbrook’s mile straight, the petrol motor proved to be surprisingly breathless at low revs, with its turbo lag made palpable below 2000rpm by a reticence to make decent headway even in the lower ratios.

This hesitancy can be avoided with more enthusiasm, of course, but a meandering reluctance to accelerate away from junctions in second gear does make the Q2 seem less biddable than it otherwise might.

Get over the initial hump and the pace smooths out into the kind of linear progress to which we’ve become accustomed, yet even here the engine fails to conjure up the kind of energetic top-end momentum that would have you testifying to its appropriately brisk 0-60mph time – or even the fact that it takes only 0.1sec more to get from 30mph to 70mph.

Hindered by a slightly paunchy kerb weight (Audi quotes a 40kg gain over an equivalent Audi A3 Sportback, but our test car was an additional 51kg beyond that, at 1316kg), the Q2 tends to feel more functional than expressively fun.

Most buyers – or at least those unswayed by Audi’s marketing push – will probably accept the distinction, especially as the 1.4 TFSI engine’s cylinder deactivation function means that the Q2 delivers respectable efficiency.

True MPG testing returned a 45.3mpg average, which is inferior, naturally, to the 52.3mpg official claim but competitive nonetheless and sufficiently frugal to provide a genuine 500-mile range.

RIDE & HANDLING

Audi Q2 cornering

Experience gleaned from the Audi Q3 has taught us what to expect from an Audi crossover born of hatchback underpinnings: sterling body control, obliging agility and unambiguous stability. The smaller, lower Q2 proves little different.

In broad strokes, Ingolstadt has succeeded in its stated aim of producing a mildly high-sided car which drives like an oversized supermini.

The Q2 moderates body roll and understeer well and manages to keep its stability control intrusions subtle

Anyone craving the gentler lope of a larger SUV will be disappointed; on passive suspension, the Q2 is firm, formally mannered and typically direct.

As with the Q3, the model’s physically longer suspension travel is kept on a short leash. Larger undulations reveal slightly more liberal body movement than is usually typical of Audi’s hatchbacks, but the sensation tends to be held rigorously in check; ditto the lateral roll when cornering.

While this doesn’t translate into an entirely blemish-free ride quality, the chassis bent suits the progressive (but never less than quick) steering, and it is the incisive integration of the two that provides the Q2 with a familiarly alert driving style.

This works in the crossover’s favour most of the time. Sitting lower than you would in a Q3 and on suspension that succumbs less to a nondescript staccato bob, you tend to just blithely get on with the business of driving it as you would any other small hatchback.

That will quite feasibly suit most drivers migrating from a supermini into a compact crossover, but for anyone keen on pedalling along merely for the sake of it, the Q2’s refusal to stand out from its manufacturer’s line-up, or prove likeably different in the manner best demonstrated by the class-leading Seat Ateca, makes it a less persuasive prospect than we might have hoped for.

That being said, the Q2 took the Hill Route mostly in its stride says much about the way it has been set up. Most higher-sided crossovers, even compact ones, tend to be upset by Millbrook’s deliberately stressful gradients, but the Audi is well placed to resist its weight-shifting tendencies, and while the tacked-down composure of a conventional hatch is ultimately missing from the handling repertoire, it never leans excessively.

As you might expect, better lateral control of the body means that it tends to maintain its hold on the road for slightly longer, and while understeer lurks at the outer limit of its ability, there’s sufficient grip leading up to it to make pushing on a worthwhile exercise.

The notion is encouraged by the steering, which may shun feedback but at least manages to make its variable-ratio rack predictable. Combine all this with the advantages of the car’s small size and the Q2 makes for an agile, if unremarkable, steer. 

MPG & RUNNING COSTS

Audi Q2

The Q2 range will in time be propped up by a 1.0 TFSI triple, starting at £20,230 and making an entry-level SE around £6k less than the cheapest Audi Q3.

Naturally, that notable price difference is crucial to the newcomer’s appeal as a more modestly priced way into a four-ringed crossover.

Q2 isn’t quite expected to match the Seat Ateca’s values but is likely to be a solid prospect nonetheless

And while you can have the likes of a Mini Countryman or Seat Ateca for less, Audi will be hoping to plunder some would-be buyers of both courtesy of its nominally superior desirability.

But as you might expect from the brand, the Q2 is not modestly priced across the board nor generously equipped.

Our Sport trim car with a smattering of options was £28,655, which isn’t far from a range-topping Ateca or even the larger Volkswagen Tiguan with the same engine.

Predictably, the 1.4 TFSI, even with its admirable economy and 124g/km CO2 figure, isn’t the running cost champion (unless you’re preoccupied by benefit-in-kind, in which case you should opt for the 1.0 TFSI).

That honour falls to the 1.6 TDI (114g/km, 64.2mpg combined), which, in Sport trim and with 17in alloys, sat-nav and cruise control, costs £24,030 – or £150 more than the equivalent Ateca, despite the Audi’s deficiency in size, equipment and contract hire cost.

If it was our money, we would shy away from the sub-£30,000 S line spec models and go for the less ritzy Sport model. However, if you want to opt for a Q2 that stands out from the crowd then the Edition #1 is for you.

VERDICT

3.5 star Audi Q2

Cannily sized, credible to drive and pleasant to sit in, the Q2 is likely to win plenty of admirers.

Most will flock to it for the look – and it is convenient to grade the car on that basis. If you appreciate Audi’s time and effort with the modelling clay, we have no significant reason to dissuade a would-be buyer.

Fit for purpose — but a less compelling option than it might have been

The Q2 is sufficiently practical, comfortable and economical for it to persuasively fill the driveway of anyone already convinced by the desirability of a premium-branded compact crossover.

Conversely, if, for all its implied heftiness, the Q2 appears no more interesting than a hitched-up hatchback, there’s little here to otherwise convince you of its worthiness.

It drives competently but no more convincingly than the better prospects among its rivals and, like most Audis, it doesn’t necessarily translate firm and forthright into greater involvement.

It is not unreasonably expensive, yet there are bigger, better-equipped and better-value rivals for the price.

That ought to make it a niche product, but the segment’s skyrocketing growth will no doubt allow Audi’s dinkiest crossover much broader success.

As a result the Q2 makes it fourth spot in our top five ahead of the Mini Countryman, however it lags behind the outgoing Skoda Yeti, the Nissan Qashqai and the class-leading Seat Ateca.

 

Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.

Audi Q2 First drives