Audi’s first-ever small SUV will arrive in Australia early in 2017. The Q2 is smaller than the brand’s popular Q3, but much sharper looking. Audi Australia aims to price the most affordable model in the line-up – the front-drive 1.4 TFSI – below $40,000. This means it will cost thousands less than the Q3’s base model.
The Audi Q2 draws heavily on the VW Group’s MQB modular component set, but Audi’s engineers set out to give it a distinctive flavour. While it shares its wheelbase and more with a short, three-door version of the A3 not sold in Australia, Audi’s engineers developed a steering system and a wider rear axle that are specific to the Q2.
Their aim was to make the Q2 a more entertaining drive than the typical small SUV. Quick, but not oversensitive, the electric-assist steering delivers a real sense of nimbleness. Meanwhile, at the other end of the car, the wider rear track counteracts the effect of the Q2’s raised (by 35mm) suspension and contributes to its stable and foolproof handling.
Inside, there’s ample space for four adults, and the cargo compartment behind is usefully large. Driver and front passenger face a good looking instrument panel that’s colourfully decorated and well equipped in standard Australian form.
The turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine of the 1.4 TFSI is sweet and strong. It’s used in many other cars made by the VW Group, but the version in the Q2 features an Audi extra; a fuel-saving system that shuts down two cylinders when the engine doesn’t need to work hard. A seven-speed double-clutch automatic – S-tronic is Audi’s name for this technology – is standard.
With its distinctive exterior style, roomy interior, typically Audi design and quality, zippy performance and eager-beaver handling, the Q2 may turn out to be the smartest premium small SUV of all…
- Exterior style. Audi calls this new look Polygonal Design. The edgy, geometric treatment gives the Q2 genuine visual personality, something Audi’s other SUVs lack.
- Space. The Q2 is 20cm shorter overall than the Audi Q3, but it doesn’t feel that way inside. The rear seat is only wide enough for three if they’re all kids, but head and knee room in the outboard positions are ample for full-size grown-ups. The Q2’s long doors also aid ease of rear-seat access.
- Interior design and décor. The 1.4 TFSI comes standard in Audi’s Design line trim. This means there’s a colourful inlay running the width of the dash. White and orange are the choices. (More expensive Q2s, with bigger engines, come with the Sport line trim choice of red or yellow). The dash itself is typical Audi; neatly designed, beautifully crafted and user-friendly.
- Handling and performance. The Q2’s quick steering and well-set-up chassis make it fun to drive. Not as much fun as a similar size small car, but better than the average small SUV for sure. Ride comfort is fine. The turbo four delivers good acceleration, even from low revs, and fuel efficiency should be outstanding (based on real world experience with other models using the 1.4-litre turbo engine).
- Standard equipment. In Australian-market form, the 1.4 TFSI comes with the right stuff; autonomous emergency braking, MMI Navigation infotainment with a bright 7-inch screen, smartphone interface, rear view camera and parking sensors all round, and dual-zone air-con.
- Should be quieter. Even on the well maintained roads of Switzerland, where Audi staged the international intro, there was a little too much noise inside Q2 1.4 TFSI. This was especially noticeable in the rear seat. While the drivetrain is relatively quiet, there’s too much road rumble.
- Price and options. Premium brands like Audi have high profit margins. Which is fine. But there are arguably better value buys at much lower profit-margin prices than the Q2 1.4 TFSI’s likely $39,000 price. And while the long options list does mean you can fill this small SUV with big-time tech, it won’t be a cheap exercise.
ANY RIVALS I SHOULD CONSIDER?
The Mini Countryman is the Q2’s most obvious rival. It has an exterior that shoots for an individual brand of stylishness inside and out. But the least expensive Countryman, which is close to the projected price of the Audi, has an engine that’s a non-turbo 1.6-litre weakling. The Mercedes-Benz GLA180 is larger and more expensive, but is also easily beaten for power. Finally, if interior space isn’t a priority, take a look at the top end of the Mazda CX-3 range. Cheaper and smaller – especially in the cargo compartment – but good looking, pleasant to drive and with Japan’s famed build quality.
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