Spoilt for choice
Audi’s baby SUV launches into a crowded luxury market
PINT-SIZED SUVs hit a new high watermark this week.
The box-shaped Audi Q2 may be tiny to cope with the urban jungle, but it comes with a price so high it could cause altitude sickness.
Starting north of $41,000 plus on-roads for a petrol version or $47,000 for a diesel, the first luxury city-sized SUV costs almost double that of the similarly sized Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V and upcoming Toyota C-HR.
But Audi says the SUV market is so strong an orderly queue had formed before the Q2 arrived in local showrooms.
More than 700 buyers have signed on the dotted line without even taking one for a test drive. With only 200 examples arriving each month, if you order one today it will take up to four months to put a Q2 in your driveway. So, what’s the fuss all about? It’s the same successful SUV formula familiar to regular readers: a tall driving position in an economical compact hatch that’s a cinch to park and has the flexibility to carry big things. But we’ve not seen an SUV this small (it’s shorter than a Toyota Corolla hatch) with this much polish before, hence the price.
For now there are just two models: one petrol front-wheeldrive ($41,100) and one diesel all-wheel-drive ($47,900).
Both are reasonably well equipped out of the box, coming standard with automatic emergency braking (active up to 65km/h), seven airbags, dual zone aircon, rear view camera, front and rear sensors, built-in navigation, Apple Car Play and Android Auto, auto headlights and rain sensing wipers. That said, there are a few basic items missing on the cheapest variant: no rear air vents, no power socket to the rear seats and no map pockets.
The options list is also rather lengthy and has a lot of dollar signs on it.
Radar cruise control with traffic jam assistance (it will inch forward, accelerate, brake and steer to take the stress out of the daily grind), and lane keeping assistance are available in a $1600 package. Fancy LED headlights and tail-lights are $2100.
The awesome digital widescreen instrument display that debuted on Audi’s R8 supercar can be added with navigation and a sport steering wheel with “tap shift” paddles in a $2500 pack. If you want to upgrade from the standard 17-inch alloys to the fancy 19-inch options that’ll cost $2100.
A sunroof is a steep $1950, an armrest for the centre back seat is $450 and metallic paint is an eye-watering $1150 even though there is not much of the Q2 to cover.
Possibly the most reasonably
priced option is the premium 10-speaker audio at $500.
Without much effort it’s easy to push the price of a Q2 beyond the Luxury Car Tax threshold of $63,184. The dearest example we tested was $63,940 before on-road costs.
ON THE ROAD
The Q2 drives much like a highriding hatchback.
It feels secure whether you’re on a sweeping mountain bend or a tight shopping centre roundabout.
Only when rushed can you feel the car start to lean on its lanky suspension.
In most cases it’s superbly composed. It was comfortable over bumps on the standard 17inch tyres and optional 19-inch rubber (although the 19s were noisier on freeways and coarse surfaces).
Audi has matched the 1.4litre turbo petrol with a sevenspeed dual-clutch auto and front-drive only, while the 2.0litre turbo diesel is exclusively all wheel-drive.
Based on an extensive preview drive this week, we reckon the petrol version is all most buyers will need.
It has enough oomph for the daily grind or a weekend getaway, and is also a quiet and smooth operator.
Power is available across the rev range (unlike the diesel which has a slight delay from low revs).
Visibility all around is good thanks to the large glass area and wide-view side mirrors.
The centre console is a touch small but the glovebox is massive and the doors have deep storage pockets.
Back seat space is OK if the driver and front passenger are average height and don’t need to push the seat back too far.
The boot is deceivingly massive, with a deep storage area that hides a space saver spare. Helpfully, there is a recess for a full-size spare should you get a flat. You can also option a full size spare ex-factory.
The Audi Q2 is an extremely competent car and raises the luxury bar in the tiny-tot SUV segment — but the price could give buyers an ice-cream headache. It’s a lot of money per-metre.