Audi's smallest SUV also happens to be one of the safest luxury cars you can buy for the money, which is why we bought one.
Buying a new car is actually a rather daunting experience, whereby you spend an enormous amount of your own money and hope that it’s the right decision because you’re sort of stuck with it for a while. It’s the reason why sites like CarAdvice exist, to help navigate that journey, but there are so many more intricacies to the buying experience than just how it drives and how much it costs, and will continue to cost.
That is why at CarAdvice, we pride ourselves on the fact that we actually buy new cars – both as a company and as individuals – and we do that rather often. That makes our connection to the actual new-car buying process far more relevant than some of our competitors.
Recently, it was time to upgrade my parents' Subaru XV. I had helped them buy it new and it had done over 120,000km in about five years. It was a relatively reliable car, though it did have some random issues that were all fixed under warranty. Overall, it was a pretty good thing and my original thought was to simply buy the new XV.
However, my folks weren’t keen on another Subaru due to the expensive cost (averaging over $750 per service for the last three years of ownership) and short six-month intervals for servicing their XV over those years. Though I tried to explain the fact that it has gotten better, it had still left a bitter taste in their mouths. So that was out.
We thought about a Hyundai Kona, but having just helped my parents-in-law buy a top-spec Kona, there was a part of me that thought having two Konas in the family is a little boring. It also made me think, given they are both pretty much retired and this is likely the car they will have for the next five years, it may as well be something a little bit more ‘upmarket’ or prestige as some would call it. It needed to be a pseudo-SUV because the extra 20 or 30mm of ride hide is helpful for getting in and out.
My original thought then was to buy the BMW X2. I genuinely loved the look of it and thought its packaging was about right for them. I started my search with Brisbane BMW in the Fortitude Valley and got some options and prices sorted. When we went in with the folks, there was no X2 to test drive, so they had to take my word on the fact that it was pretty decent. There was an X1 there, but that wasn’t to their liking.
We also went into Mercedes-Benz across the road and they had a steer in the GLC, which they liked. It was a little bit outside the $60K budget we had originally set, but the dealer never called us back with a price despite me chasing (when has that ever happened?), so that was a bit of a strange experience, to be honest, and it sort of fizzled out.
After a few weeks of searching, we narrowed the choice down to the Lexus NX300 and the Audi Q2. For me, it came down to safety features. Active safety, to be more precise. Given my parents have my two kids rather frequently, it was important that whatever car they ended up with had every radar, LIDAR and sensor that it could possibly have given the current state of technology.
Autonomous emergency braking was, of course, a 100 per cent requirement, but did you know that not all AEB is equal? I always knew there were some big differences, but not as much as reality proved. For example, the BMW X2’s AEB doesn’t brake all the way down to a stop (works at speeds below 50km/h and will only reduce the speed of the vehicle down to around 15km/h), nor does the Lexus NX. Both of these cars had so much vagueness in how their AEB operated, it left me asking the official channels for clarification.
On some overseas websites for Lexus, for example, it says the AEB works down to zero on the NX. For Australian cars, it is not that clear, and ultimately the answer came back that it doesn’t (always) brake down to a stop. Though my folks loved the interior of the Lexus, given its amazing build quality and leather, I urged them towards a car with more advanced levels of active safety.
That really pushed us towards the Audi Q2 with the Assistance package. Although Audi says similar in that it tries to brake down to zero but can’t guarantee that (which is pretty obvious considering road conditions etc), its standard AEB system works from 65km/h and below – which would cover far more circumstances than a system that only works up to 50km/h like in the BMW – while optioning it with the Assistance package meant it will bring that up to 200km/h. It also adds lane-keep and side assist, which I knew would be rather helpful.
Interestingly, and although Audi isn’t very good at mentioning this, the Q2 also brings about reverse AEB. As in, it will actually brake if you’re about to reverse into something or if there is a car approaching from one side as you’re reversing out of your driveway (as my parents do multiple times a day). This is a hugely helpful feature that could be lifesaving, as is the case with forward AEB.
While we were in the Audi dealership, there was some talk of perhaps getting the Q5, but at the $60K mark we would’ve had to have gone with a base diesel model. And I am rather adamant that buying a diesel SUV going forward isn’t such a smart idea, considering where the market is headed, which would’ve then forced us into a more expensive petrol Q5 (at the time) that was unreasonably pricey.
It then became the case of finding the right Audi Q2. With a car like this, there is no point – in my opinion – to order one from the factory, given the delay in getting it, and the opportunity to get a great deal on a new model in stock that dealers need to get rid of.
We were happy with the 1.4-litre TFSI, which Audi now calls the 35 TFSI. With 110kW and 250Nm of torque coupled to that sweet seven-speed DSG, it’s certainly not what we would call fast, but that little turbo engine proved far more lively than their old XV, so it did its job of impressing just fine.
What we found, however, was that what I thought would’ve been obvious packages to tick with the Q2, conflicted rather heavily with whoever orders Q2 stock at Audi Australia. The Assistance package ($990) was incredibly rare, which is pretty poor on Audi’s behalf because, firstly, all of that should be standard anyway. But also, the dealers and the brand should be educating customers about the fact that if you’re going to tick any option, it should always be the Assistance package. Because if it can save you from an accident even just once in the period of ownership, it’s worth its price tenfold.
Frankly, considering the safety pack was not readily available in the entire national Audi stock at the time, it limited our choice of available Q2s pretty heavily. But it wasn’t one that we were willing to compromise on, so we had to prioritise that as our first choice.
Our second requirement was getting one with the Comfort package, which would’ve added keyless entry and more features on the inside (though we just wanted keyless entry). That proved to be a near impossibility, because we could not source one car that had both Assistance and Comfort packages without adding silly things like the S-Line package, which would’ve upped the wheel size to 19s (from 18) and ruin the ride comfort.
We also wanted powered front seats, which are simply not available at all (how is that possible on an Audi Q2, when you can get them in a similarly sized Hyundai Kona?) and electric tailgate (a separate option entirely) as the non-electric opens up too high for my mum to be able to reach it.
So, what did we end up with? A ‘Glacier White’ Audi Q2 with Assistance package, Technik package, power tailgate and wireless phone charging. The Technik package with Virtual Cockpit and the bigger screen was entirely pointless for my folks, as was the wireless phone charger (though I do like using it whenever I borrow the car – which is actually rather often given how much I like it). Ideally, we wanted one with Comfort and Assistance packages.
The car has been with us now for about 4.5 months and roughly 5000km, and so far it has been flawless. I tend to drive our Jaguar F-Pace to my parents' and borrow the Q2 when I want to go on a long drive through country roads, because the active cruise and lane-keep assistance systems – plus the auto high beam – are so good that it really takes the stress out of driving hundreds of kilometres at a time.
Most importantly, though, what I love the most about the car is the ride. It’s so damn compliant over crappy roads. It’s just smooth and comfortable to be in. The rear seats and the boot are by no means spacious, and it’s definitely a slight downgrade in space from the XV, but in all honesty, it hasn’t really affected their needs even with the two large child seats in the second row.
The interior is a little drab for an Audi, not in terms of how it looks, but some of the harder plastics on the doors leave little to the imagination. We are yet to put a SIM card in it to enable Google Earth and other connected systems, but with CarPlay it has been pretty useful. Though it has wireless phone charging, it doesn't have wireless CarPlay, so it sort of defeats the purpose of using the wireless charger since you have to plug your iPhone in to use CarPlay.
Fuel usage has been pretty consistent at around 6–6.5L/100km and we’ve only put in 98RON so far. My parents have reported that reverse AEB has saved them on a few occasions when backing out of their driveway and just reversing into a car park in general. That’s not to say they would’ve had an accident without it, but the Q2 detected a vehicle coming from the side and applied the brakes to stop the car reversing out too far. It’s simple stuff like this, and the car’s ability to keep itself in its own lane (speeds above 65km/h), that makes me happy I picked the Q2 over the other options.
Ideally, we would’ve loved the new Q3 as it’s probably a more perfect size for their needs, but the car wasn’t even announced then, let alone heading to Australia any time soon.
Check back over the next 12 months and beyond while we update you with our experience of the Q2, as it goes in for its service and we put on a lot more kilometres on the car.
2018 Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI S Tronic
- Glacier White – $1150
- Assistance package – $1600
- Electric tailgate – $890
- Audi phone box (wireless charging) – $250
- Technik package – $2500