What is it?
It isn’t rare for a manufacturer to let us drive a new model before final sign-off. There are benefits for both parties: we get an early taste of what the car is all about and its maker gets some independent feedback while there’s still time to make minor tweaks.
The deal usually involves an informal spin in a decidedly unglamorous location where the car is in its final stages of development. A proving ground, usually. A remote public road, perhaps. And that’s fine by us.
So, given that the new Audi Q2 was developed in Ingolstadt and will soon be rolling off a production line very nearby, you’d imagine that’s where we’d be headed on this occasion. Er, nope. We’ve had to jet halfway across the world to Havana. Yep, the one in Cuba.
But here were are, about to drive a car that has been in the pipeline ever since Audi’s Cross Lane Coupe was shown at Paris four years ago. The “99% finished” article has five, rather than three, doors, is a fraction under 4.2 metres long and sits on the now well-utilised MQB platform. That means the Q2 shares most of its underpinnings with the slightly longer, but lower and narrower, A3 hatch.
Audi says the Q2 “can’t be pigeonholed” but we’ll have a go because, from where we’re standing, this very much a small SUV in the mould of a Nissan Juke or a Mini Countryman. It just happens to wear a more premium badge and look a bit more interesting than most other modern Audis, thanks largely to its unusually chamfered shoulder line and contrasting C-pillar.
Prices will start from around £20k and the line-up of engines kicks off with a 114bhp 1.0-litre petrol turbo triple, although Audi reckons the bulk of buyers will choose either the familiar 148bhp 1.4 TFSI or the equally powerful 2.0 TDI. Both of those engines are available with front or four-wheel drive, while the range-topping 188bhp petrol and diesel motors are exclusively offered in quattro form.