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A new entry-level SUV from Audi, the Q2, is an appealing addition to a market that is increasingly drawn to these premium compact models.
It’s an outstanding vehicle when considering aspects such as build quality, chassis dynamics and smart features. Solid engineering and well-thought-out design underpin the premium price, although choosing some of its many options, some of which might reasonably be expected to be standard in this class, adds substantially to the cost.
There are essentially only two models, the 1.4-litre petrol front-wheel-drive Q2 TFSI design, priced from $41,100 plus on-road costs, and the Q2 TDI quattro sport, a 2.0-litre turbo diesel all-wheel-drive, from $47,900. Both models employ a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission only.
Our test car is, however, a limited special, designated Edition #1. Based on the petrol model, the package includes premium Quantum grey paint, LED lighting inside and out, three-piece folding rear seat, sports front seats, leather upholstery and tinted rear glass.
The Edition #1 model jumps to a list price of $47,800, while the $1600 optional assistance pack – one of five option packs which include many features that can be found as standard on far less expensive SUVs – raised our Q2 to just shy of a hefty $55,000 after estimated on-road costs.
Thoughtful interior, engaging drive
The overriding attractions of the Q2 are its compact dimensions and thoughtful interior presentation, underpinned by a dynamic and engaging drive. Audi has focused on the driver in terms of infotainment and connectivity technologies, with a simplification of controls that makes the cockpit feel immediately familiar.
‘Audi Connect’, with Wi-Fi hotspot enabling surfing and streaming with mobile devices and Google Earth and Google search functionality, is listed on the spec sheet as standard although the press release says it will be rolled out across the range as standard. Buyers should clarify this.
Like other SUVs, it’s particularly easy to step in and out of. The Q2’s seats are well bolstered, and while all adjustments are manual, taller drivers will find plenty of range to the travel and height, along with steering reach and tilt control. All up, the seating position, plus the likes of recessed rear headrests and a reversing camera, ensure generally good all-round vision.
The rear seats provide acceptable adult space but with modest leg support, and beyond the floor-mounted heater vents there are few features, such as power outlets or storage pockets.
The added convenience of our test car’s three-piece split-fold rear seat is an option, and the Q2 carries only a space-saver spare wheel. Interestingly, this allows for an adjustable boot floor, so you have the option of a deep square boot or a floor that is level with the folded rear seat and with space for a full-size spare wheel. Like higher Audi models, there’s a pleasing finish throughout, and convenience in the adaptable load space, childseat anchorages on the seat back and ISOFIX points.
Lively and responsive
The combination of the 1.4-litre direct-injection, four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine and seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission deliver lively and responsive performance in all situations.
Top-end power of 110kW is almost irrelevant, as the healthy 250Nm of torque between 1500 and 3500rpm, combined with seven gears and a responsive throttle, ensured the Q2 was never found wanting.
Our only doubt was that this combination would occasionally test the limits of front-wheel-drive traction on take-off. Starting on a slippery surface, hill or bend might induce a tug on the steering as the tyres search for grip.
It’s also very disappointing to see that the hill-hold assist function, desirable with dual-clutch transmissions to eliminate rollback, is only available in the optional assistance package along with many other desirable driver assistance and safety features.
Unexpected in a small-capacity four-cylinder engine is Audi’s cylinder shutdown during light throttle applications. When cruising on the open road a dash light indicates when the Q2 can happily maintain speed with two cylinders deactivated.
Despite an impressive government test figure of 5.3L/100km, we rarely achieved less than 7.0L/100km on a predominantly country road test – acceptable but not class-leading.
Where the Q2 really shows its lineage is in the chassis dynamics. With a particularly well-designed front-wheel-drive set-up the ride and handling package is outstanding and always delivered an entertaining drive, particularly on a twisting country road.
The electric power steering provides good communication and accuracy, while the additional grip provided by 19-inch wheels, courtesy of the Edition #1 option pack, ensured notably high levels of cornering balance.
Audi’s entry-level SUV follows the marque’s tradition of high build quality, intelligent design and engaging driving dynamics, but it does struggle to provide a convincing value-for-money argument against the increasing quality and sophistication of many popular brands.