First Drive: Audi Q2
Is Audi’s Juke-sized crossover all style and no substance? Alex Grant finds out.
SECTOR Crossover PRICE £20,230–£30,610 FUEL 52.3-64.2mpg CO2 114-124g/km
Brawny RS models aside, opting into an Audi as a company car is a style statement as safe as a well-fitted suit. But the Q2, Audi says, is something a little different. Something a little more Superdry than Savile Row.
A little longer end-to-end than the A1, and a little shorter than the three-door A3, it’s a new nameplate and a new segment. The Q2 takes the compact crossover, made popular by the likes of the Juke, Mokka and Captur, and combines it with a premium badge.
This isn’t a crowded sector (yet). MINI has had free rein with the similarly-sized Countryman, and it’s not a part of the market that Daimler has ventured into with the Smart brand. Offered in a choice of primary colours and with bodylines which appear to have been inspired by Kryten, the chisel-headed mechanoid from Nineties sitcom Red Dwarf, hint at a target audience customer that’s younger than most of its stablemates.
The business case is obvious. Just as Juke and its rivals have found a niche luring upsizing supermini drivers and those for whom a larger hatchback or MPV would be too boring, so the Q2 stands to bring new customers into showrooms while filling an unexplored gap between the A1 and A3. It’s a corner of the market that’s unlikely to stay neglected for long.
Around a third of UK Q2s are expected to go to fleets, who’ll be pleased to hear that the newcomer is entirely familiar underneath. It’s on the same platform as the new A3, and shares its wheelbase with the three-door version, but it’s around 50mm shorter from bumper to bumper, with the axles pushed out to the corners.
The 1.6-litre TDI will be available from launch, with 113bhp compared to the A3’s 108bhp. It’s a proven engine among fleets, reasonably quiet if a little reliant on shifting up and down through the gears to make the most of it.
It’s not short of choice for company car drivers. The peppy 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbo petrol, again shared with the A3, makes plenty of sense for city-based drivers. Audi is also equipping it with two 148bhp engines – a 2.0-litre TDI and 1.4-litre TFSI, both available with quattro four-wheel drive. If recent Volkswagen Group products are anything to go by, diesel won’t be a no-brainer in terms of running costs, particularly with a price gap of over £2,000.
Audi also seems to have benchmarked MINI-esque handling. It’s a fun car to drive, light on its feet and not as top heavy as you might expect, and the variable steering works brilliantly. Operated through a tiny, dished steering wheel, it offers quick responses to armfuls of lock, but without the downside of twichy motorway manners.
But it’s customisation that sets the Q2 aside from the rest of the range. For example, the C-pillar ‘blade’ is removable, so it can be swapped for other colours whenever the driver feels like a change, and the A3-like interior is livened up by brightly-coloured accents – if desired – and backlit graphics which glow at night. The result is a car which can be tuned to masculine or feminine tastes.
Or, alternately, it can be dialled back to the typical subtle tones that are used elsewhere in the Audi range, becoming a fashionable, understated small SUV. Either way, it’s a welcome injection of youthful character, and Audi should have no problems luring customers into showrooms for a closer look.
A stylish and surprisingly practical alternative to the ‘ordinary’ family hatchback, the Q2 is cute and customisable, has plenty of character and the right badge on the bonnet. But it’s unlikely to have such a free run of this segment for very long.