Q and A session
For those seeking a practical little wagon, Audi’s compact crossover is the highrise hatch answer
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 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.