From £20,0157

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?

Having proven how successfully it can do small, medium and large conventional SUVs, the Audi Q family is about to get a whole lot more stylish and exciting with the Audi Q2.

Over the next few years we’ll see some even-numbered Q models, with coupé-aping styling, steadily slotting in next to their existing odd-numbered equivalents and offering more dynamic driving experiences as well as the sharper looks.

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

Next to the new Audi Q5 will be a BMW X4-rivalling Audi Q4, and alongside the seven-seat Audi Q7 will be an BMW X6-chasing Audi Q8 range-topper.

But ahead of them all comes this road test debutant, ready to prove that there’s still no more trendy car on the planet than a fashionable compact crossover: it’s the small but eye-catchingly formed Q2.

First seen as the Crosslane Coupé concept in 2012, the Q2 is the fourth new SUV from the Volkswagen Group to arrive in a year that is based on the increasingly ubiquitous ‘modular transverse matrix’, or MQB, platform – coming on the heels of the Volkswagen Tiguan, Seat Ateca and Skoda Kodiaq. But you’d be ignoring an apparently quite different mission statement if you blithely bundled the Q2 in with those in-house siblings.

Audi is playing to a younger and more design-conscious crowd here than most crossover makers have of late, and is clearly beckoning to owners of the likes of the Nissan Juke, Mini Paceman, DS 4 Crossback and others to come and experience life in an equally alternative-looking, proper premium-branded car.

Back to top

And it’s offering them more than just visual allure and that coveted band of four chromed rings here. The Q2’s big sell is built not only on typical crossover utility and convenience but also keener performance and handling than you normally get from the type, as well as all the material quality and infotainment that Audi routinely offers further up the food chain.

Turbocharged petrol and diesel engines ranging from 114bhp to 187bhp, manual and dual-clutch automatic gearboxes and front and four-wheel drive are all on the Q2’s mechanical menu, while customers can also chose from ruggedised, bespoilered and duotone styling themes.

We chose a mid-level, mid-spec, front-driven, 1.4-litre turbo petrol model to provide an introduction to Audi’s new SUV chapter.

Audi Q2 design & styling

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.

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.

Back to top

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.

Audi Q2 First drives