With warm hatch performance matched to all-wheel drive surety, the Audi Q2 2.0 TFSI quattro is arguably the sweet spot in the German car maker's compact SUV range.
Audi is unashamed in marketing its baby SUV, the Q2 to a young, hip demographic. It’s also unapologetic about the smallest SUV in its stable bastardising sales of the now ageing, and slightly larger, Q3.
“It’s fair to say some Q3 buyers might be swayed into Q2,” said an Audi spokesperson at last week’s launch of the new, range-topping 2018 Audi Q2 2.0 TFSI quattro before adding the company sells around “400 Q2 and Q3 per month” in Australia.
It’s easy enough to understand why, too. On paper, there’s little between the two, certainly not in this top-of-the-range specification.
Australia’s obsession with SUVs of all shapes and sizes shows no sign of abating. To the end of October this year, Australians have bought 384,469 new SUVs in 2017, representing a market share of 39 per cent of total new car sales. And the small SUV sub-segment occupied by the Q2 (and Q3) represents nearly 25 per cent of that market with sales year-to-date of 95,555 units. A compelling reason for the Q2’s existence, then.
Launched back in February, the Q2 range consisted of just two variants: the petrol-engined 1.4 TFSI front-wheel-drive and the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel Sport quattro. Now, the petrol-powered all-wheel-drive enters the range to bolster the ranks of Audi’s compact SUV.
Audi Australia is calling this the range-topper, although it rolls out of the showroom slightly cheaper than its 2.0-litre diesel-powered quattro sibling ($48,500 against $49,100). At that price, it’s also knocking on the door of its older – and just slightly larger – Q3 dizygotic twin, which is available with the same 2.0-litre TFSI quattro drivetrain for $53,400 (plus on-road costs).
Audi, for its part, considers the front-wheel drive Mini Countryman Cooper S its most natural enemy, certainly on pricing with the 2.0-litre petrol FWD petrol starting at $47,200. To jump into the cheapest AWD Mini Countryman will set you back $52,300, making the Q2 a compelling proposition in this segment. The Q2 becomes even more compelling alongside its German compatriots. BMW’s X1 2.0-litre AWD xDrive 25i starts at $60,6700, while Merc’s GLA-Class 250 AWD will set you back $60,700 (both before on-road costs).
That said, our test car, despite the $48,500 price tag, will actually set you back $59,240 (plus on-roads) once a few optional goodies have been added to the bill. That’s not to say standard kit is lacking. It isn’t.
Your base $48,500 outlay will see you drive out of the showroom with a suite of standard kit including six airbags, LED headlights, dynamic rear indicators, Audi pre-sense city with autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and pedestrian detection (up to 65km/h), tyre pressure monitor, blind-spot monitor, a rear-view camera, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, dual-zone climate control, leather-appointed sports seats and an auto dimming rear-view mirror.
That’s a pretty meaty level of standard inclusions, but, to score extra goodies, as found on our test car, you’ll need to shell out extra cash. The Assistance Package ($990) adds adaptive cruise control, active lane keeping assist, high-beam assist, hill-hold assist, and park assist, the latter helping to steer the Q2 into both parallel and perpendicular parking spots.
Our tester also has the Comfort Package ($1900) which adds keyless entry and push-button start, electrically adjustable lumbar support, heated side mirrors with auto folding and dimming, heated front seats for both driver and passenger, and storage and luggage comportment package with adds niceties like storage nets on the back of the front seats backrests, 12V sockets in the rear centre console and luggage compartment, luggage compartment net, storage compartments under front seats, glove compartment lock, and a second light in luggage compartment.
Audi’s ubiquitous Technik package ($2500) adds Audi Virtual Cockpit, MMI navigation plus, and a multifunction flat-bottom sports steering wheel with paddle-shifters.
Our tester also rode on optional 19-inch Audi Sport alloys (18-inch alloys are standard) for $2100, while DAB+ digital radio adds $550 to the asking price, and Audi’s 10-speaker sound system will set you back $500. As already mentioned, that brings the price of our test car to $59,240 (plus on-roads). Which, if we’re honest, is starting to get up there in price.
Those options, though, do work together to provide a premium look and feel to the Q2. Slide inside – and it’s easy enough, thanks to its high-riding stature – and you are met with tactility and function in equal measure. Audi’s switchgear has always been uncluttered and fuss free, making it easy and intuitive to navigate your way around menus and sub-menus on the 8.3-inch colour screen.
Standout highlights include the red anodised inlays that are liberally sprinkled throughout. The red provides a nice – and sporty – contrast to an otherwise austere cabin. The front seats are comfortable and well bolstered and offer plenty of support, while the flat-bottomed steering wheel is nice in the hand.
The interior finish is excellent, everything nicely put together, although its luxury pretensions are let down by cheap plastics on the door card. Still, overall it adds up to a premium experience, as you would expect from Audi.
What you would also expect from an Audi, especially one with a sporting bent, is performance, and the Q2, in this guise, delivers. Under the bonnet is Audi’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol unit, delivering 140kW of power and 320Nm of torque. That helps propel the Q2 from 0-100km/h in just 6.5 seconds. That’s Golf GTI territory, with a claimed 6.4s sprint to 100km/h. Properly quick, then. And it feels it, too.
A healthy dose of throttle from standstill will see the Q2 pull away from the lights smartly without being manic. Acceleration is nice and linear and the seven-speed S tronic transmission does a good job of holding onto gears when you want it to. Of course, flicking over to manual and controlling your own destiny via paddle-shifters brings another level of driver engagement, although, if I’m honest, I preferred to let the Q2 control its own gearshifts.
What is lacking, is theatre. The 2.0-litre engine isn’t the most cacophonous out there. There is a little bit of roartiness, but it doesn’t have the burbles and pops one might expect from a 6.5-second car. It’s a muted aural symphony at best, by no means a deal-breaker, but noticeable by its absence.
What isn’t lacking, is handling. With its quattro underpinnings sending drive to all four wheels, the Q2 is sure-footed and agile, moving through corners with an adroitness that belies its elevated size. In every respect, it feels like a warm hatch, planted without a hint of slip. Even on our test route over a couple of hundred kays of very average B-road through NSW’s Barrington Tops, the Q2 never wavered off its intended line.
And it is equally adept on dirt. A short section of typical country dirt road, liberally sprinkled with stone and larger rocks, did little to ruffle the Q2 or push it off line. Bumps, ruts and potholes, whether on the straight or mid-corner, were dealt with easily, the Audi unflustered by the conditions.
Not so great, are the levels of NVH. Tyre roar, no doubt not helped by the stylish 19-inch alloys and low-profile rubber, is noticeably loud. So too is wind noise. It’s a blot on an otherwise compelling package.
The Q2 2.0 TFSI is a frugal thing, with Audi claiming 6.5L/100km fuel consumption on the combined cycle. While we didn’t match that on test, we did see a respectable 7.6L/100km over a 281km loop of mixed roads and mainly country driving. That included some spirited driving, too.
Of course, an SUV, even a compact SUV like the Q2, needs to provide a level of practicality over similar-sized vehicles. In that regard, the Q2 delivers 355 litres of boot space that expands to 1000 litres with the rear seats folded away. This is where the slightly larger dimensions of its Q3 sibling come to the fore, with 460/1365 litres on hand, while the Q2's arch nemesis (according to Audi at least), the Mini Countryman offers 450/1390.
The Q2 in this most powerful iteration plays to its sporty pretensions with aplomb. Quick off the mark, assured on the road and with a nimbleness that belies its SUV underpinnings, the Q2 2.0 TFSI nudges warm-hatch performance territory. Equally adept off-road as it is on, thanks to its quattro drivetrain, the Q2 2.0 TFSI is a compelling proposition for urbanites who like to venture to the country, sometimes.
Its edgy ‘polygonal’ design too, unashamedly young and hip in its execution, points to a bolder direction for the German brand, one that casts off the shackles of its previously safe and understated styling. This, the third variant in the Q2 range, is arguably also the best. That said, we'd love an even more performance-focussed SQ2 variant. Over to you, Audi...