What is it?
This is the Audi Q2, Ingolstadt’s newest badge, signaling yet another manufacturer's debut entry into the small SUV market. The name is appropriate: the car is noticeably smaller than the family-targeted Q3 and is somewhere between a Mini Countryman and Skoda Yeti in scale. The new version of the latter will share the Q2’s underpinnings (a variant of the MQB architecture) when it lands next year.
Vindication of the Q2's market position hardly needs a sales spreadsheet; this will be the cheapest way into a Q-model Audi, and should therefore be popular. Ingolstadt hopes – as it did with the supermini-sized A1 – that the Q2 will attract a younger audience than typically buys its larger SUVs, and claims it has set up the car to match. It gets the usual array of downsized engines; here, in the UK for the first time, we drove it with the 148bhp 1.4-litre TFSI, twinned with the standard six-speed manual gearbox.
What's it like?
Frumpy to look at or cleverly ruggedised? I’m not really sure, but what you think will decide much about your opinion of the Q2. I say that because underneath the shell, the car springs few genuine surprises. Certainly that it is nice inside is a given. The new car shares most of its innards with the latest A3, and while some of the trim materials are of a subtly inferior grade, it hardly dilutes the pleasant feeling of either sitting in and/or looking at the dashboard.
The Q2's internal proportions are satisfying enough, too, for a car that’s shorter than a three-door A3. Think big, well-packaged supermini and you’ll be in the ballpark. You could conceivably fill the Q2 with four adults, and on the proviso that none dramatically breach the national height average, you wouldn’t hear any complaints. They’d be able to bring a rucksack each too, because at 405 litres the Q2's boot (helped by a split-level floor) is actually larger than that of the five-door A3 hatchback.
However – and this is mild surprise number one – you’d certainly notice the effect of your carload on the Q2’s performance, as even when burdened with a solitary road tester its get up and go leaves something to be desired. It’s not that it's slow precisely (Audi claims a brisk 8.4sec 0-62mph) rather that it labours noticeably at the kind of low crank speeds you commonly find yourself negotiating a junction with – and, even on clambering away from the turbo lag below 2000rpm, never becomes what you’d call spirited.
The impact of its occasional listlessness is all the more noticeable because, as promised, Ingolstadt has tuned the Q2’s chassis to handle with something approaching the agile manners of its lower-to-the-ground stablemates. Anyone expecting a markedly lazier degree of body control can chalk up another revelation here; the car’s taller body is well managed by a combination of structural rigidity and the consistent firmness of its passive suspension.
Naturally, there is a centre-of-gravity sacrifice to take into account here, not to mention the larger serving of kerbweight (the Q2 might be smaller than an A3, but 1316kg on our scales suggests it’s heavier, too), yet the car handles astutely for something that’s been consciously jacked away from the ground. Surprise number three – on standard 17in wheels it rides moderately well, too. A little unyielding on all the nooks and crannies of UK roads, but decent enough for you to only occasionally pay it any mind.
Should I buy one?
If you responded "cor blimey, yes" to the question of the Q2’s styling, then by all means. This is a modern small SUV to the core, and its fitness for purpose largely indisputable: credible to drive, comfortable to sit in and just practical enough to convince you that it makes some greater indefinable sense than a five-door hatchback. If, on the other hand, you think the car looks more like a hatchback having its tyres changed, then its wicket gets a bit stickier.
While it may be a reasonable steer in the compact crossover segment, that still places it midtable in the realm of the benign and uninteresting. Ultimately, Audi’s efforts to tack the Q2 down results in the usual driver ambivalence: you feel closer to the road, but no more involved in it. Added to which, our mid-level Sport test car was £28,655 with a smattering of options, and still needed a £900 Comfort pack to add dual-zone climate control and rear parking sensors – both of which you’d get on the larger, more likeable equivalent Seat Ateca for free. No surprise there.
Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI Sport
Location UK; On sale Now; Price £23,930; Engine 4 cyls, 1395cc, turbo, petrol; Power 148bhp; Torque 184lb ft; Gearbox Six-speed manual; Kerb weight 1265kg; Top speed 131mph; 0-62mph8.5sec; Economy 54.3mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 124g/km, 21% Rivals BMW X1, Seat Ateca