Q and A ses­sion

For those seek­ing a prac­ti­cal lit­tle wagon, Audi’s com­pact cross­over is the high­rise hatch an­swer

The Advertiser - Motoring - - THE TICK -

Hmmm. This could be tricky. One of the bosses is look­ing for a new car and asks about the Audi Q2.

He’s af­ter a com­pact SUV for him­self, golf clubs and a moun­tain bike. He has al­ready de­cided the Volk­swa­gen Tiguan and Mazda CX-5 are great cars but too big. I think they could be just right for him but there is some­thing else — to be hon­est, they’re not his style.

So the Q2 fils the bill. I’m won­der­ing what else to point him to­wards for a driv­ing com­par­i­son.

The Mini Coun­try­man is ob­vi­ous, though not a win­ner in The Tick and def­i­nitely not his style. The Mercedes GLA is another pos­si­bil­ity but, he says, the tail is too cramped for his moun­tain bike and it costs thou­sands more for starters.

The likes of the Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V and odd-look­ing new Toy­ota C-HR don’t have the right badge for a boss.

The Q2 also makes things dif­fi­cult be­cause it’s very small and, de­spite Audi em­pha­sis­ing its SUV cre­den­tials, it’s as much of an SUV as I am a moun­tain climber.

It’s far more of a cross­over, rid­ing (a lit­tle) higher but with a semi-wagon body and only front-wheel drive on the starter car with 1.4-litre turbo.

There is a 2.0-litre turbo diesel with all-wheel drive but that’s still not a rock crawler. The Q2 is more like a jacked-up A3 hatch than one of Audi’s more-se­ri­ous SUVs, from the Q3 up to the Q7.

The price is solid from $41,100 but it’s easy to go a lot higher with the var­i­ous op­tion pack­ages.

The test car for The Tick, al­though it starts as a ba­sic 1.4 TFSI S Tronic, comes in at $44,000 with the ad­di­tion of 17-inch al­loys, a 40-20-40 split­fold­ing rear seat, the As­sis­tance pack­age — adap­tive cruise con­trol, ac­tive lane as­sist and more — and the in­te­rior light­ing pack­age that brings (truly) il­lu­mi­nated van­ity mir­rors and read­ing lights for all pas­sen­ger places. As lights go, most other brands add those as stan­dard equip­ment.

But the Q2 is a real looker and there are a claimed five mil­lion colour-and-trim com­bi­na­tions, in­clud­ing the bright yel­low favoured by the boss if he can get blacked-out wheels from the costlier turbo diesel car that starts from $47,900.

ON THE ROAD

As the Q2 is rolling out of the garage comes news that it’s gained the five-star ANCAP tar­get. That’s no sur­prise for Audi, the lat­est Q5 hav­ing achieved the same safety rank­ing at the same time — de­liv­er­ing what’s ex­pected for the Ger­man brand.

But I’m a bit un­der­whelmed with the cabin on the Q2 for The Tick. The chromed trim rings around the air vents, a long-time Audi sig­na­ture, are miss­ing and there is lots of drab hard plas­tic. It’s soft when it’s close to the driver but not so good when it’s out of sight.

The seats are comfy and the dash­board is clear, as is Audi’s cus­tom, with Ap­ple Carplay con­nec­tiv­ity but miss­ing the dig­i­tal cock­pit dis­play that I’ve come to re­ally love in other Audis be­cause it puts more in­for­ma­tion di­rectly ahead of the driver.

On the driv­ing front, the Q2 gets along well and I re­ally like the cylin­der de­ac­ti­va­tion that cuts spark to two plugs in lowde­mand run­ning.

It’s seam­less, ef­fec­tive and con­trib­utes to claimed econ­omy of 5.3L/100km that I can eas­ily beat in free­way and open coun­try driv­ing.

The car is a bit slug­gish from the lights, so typ­i­cal of Volk­swa­gen Group cars with dual-clutch gear­boxes (al­though Audi calls its ver­sion S Tronic) — but oth­er­wise is keen to please on up­shifts and with plenty of punch if you take man­ual con­trol of the baby turbo’s trans­mis­sion.

The ride, though, is noisy and floppy. The Q2 sits higher and, de­spite a wide track, bounces through bumpy cor­ners in a way I have def­i­nitely not found in a GLA or Coun­try­man.

There is also plenty of road noise from the run-flat tyres on coarse bi­tu­men.

But, to be hon­est, most Q2 buy­ers are not choos­ing it as an SUV or sporty hatch. And it drives just fine for them.

Not so good is the cramped ac­cess through the rear doors and, if you slide the front seats for com­fort­able legroom, the pinched foot space in the rear.

But Audi says there is 405 L of boot space and the back seats fold flat, with ex­cel­lent flex­i­bil­ity with the op­tional 4020-40 fold­ing pack­age.

THE TICK

The boss says yes to the Q2 but there’s more.

The Q2 earns The Tick be­cause it’s the right an­swer for mil­len­ni­als (and the young at heart) who want a prac­ti­cal, classy, good-look­ing cross­over and not just another hulk­ing SUV.

It’s not cheap when you get it the way you want, though the value is rea­son­able. To com­pen­sate, it has im­pres­sive safety and a badge that works for pres­tige buy­ers.

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