An interesting thing has happened to Audi Q2 sales since the larger, and all-new, Audi Q3 lobbed on our shores late last year. A quick scan of sales for both, year-on-year, paints a clear picture.
In April 2019, Audi shifted 186 of its compact Q2 SUV, while the then ageing previous-gen Q3 found only 11 new homes.
Fast-forward 12 months and those number are reversed, with the all-new Q3 racking up 151 sales, while Q2 sales dwindled to just 22. Yes, sales for both have taken a hit in April 2020 thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, but it’s the ratio of Q2 against Q3 sales that matters here. And that raises several questions. Are Ingolstadt’s pair of small SUVs stealing sales from each other? Does Audi even care? After all, money in the bank is money in the bank.
And, is the Audi Q2 still a decent proposition in the small premium SUV segment? We grabbed one to find out.
On test here we have the top-of-the-four-Q2-range, the 2020 Audi Q2 40 TFSI quattro Edition #2. We’ll get to what Edition #2 means in a jiffy.
Priced at $52,400 plus on-road costs, the Q2 Edition #2 is a cool $3000 more than the regular old 40 TFSI quattro. It’s also around $10K more than the entry point for the range, the 35 TFSI front-wheel drive that can be yours for $41,950. The larger-but-still-small-SUV Q3 kicks off at $46,400 plus on-roads for the 35 TFSI FWD, while the new Q3 40 TFSI quattro comes in at $53,900 plus on-road costs. Not much in it, then. Food for thought, in terms of how both are positioned in a competitive segment.
Coughing up an extra three grand for the Edition #2 over the regular Q2 40 TFSI brings some cosmetic embellishments, inside and out. Inside, there’s an LED interior lighting package, brushed aluminium inlays, keyless entry, and a panoramic sunroof.
But, it’s outside where Edition #2 signals its arrival in the Q2 canon, with 19-inch Audi Sport alloys, in our case finished in gloss white with matt platinum inlays. And then there’s the black exterior package – including gloss black treatment on the C-pillar blade, mirror caps and shark fin antenna. It’s a much needed contrast, too, in the case of our test car finished in optional ($1190) metallic Glacier White paint.
Metallic paint isn’t the only option our Q2 is wearing, with the Technik package at $2500 the big-ticket item. It adds MMI navigation plus with MMI touch, Audi’s excellent 12.3-inch digital driver display, aka Virtual Cockpit, and a flat-bottomed sports steering wheel with paddle shifters. Throw in black headlining at $400 and heated front seats for $600, and you’re looking at a grand total of $57,050 plus on-road costs as tested.
You do get a lot of standard Q2 for that outlay: 19-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control, ambient lighting, Bluetooth connectivity as well as smartphone mirroring, wireless phone charging, LED headlights and tail-lights, proximity key, push-button start, partial leather seats, leather steering wheel, and a powered tailgate are key highlights.
But the real highlight of the 40 TFSI, whether it’s Edition #2 or the regular edition, is that cracking 2.0-litre (1984cc) turbo inline four-cylinder engine. With a generous 140kW at 6000rpm and 320Nm between 1500–4200rpm, the 40 TFSI is a little firecracker. Certainly, when married to Audi’s seven-speed dual-clutch auto sending drive to all four wheels, the Q2 can hustle from 0–100km/h in a rapid-fire 6.5 seconds. That’s hot-hatch territory, for the sake of context.
It’s an engaging and charming drive experience, whether sedately around town – where the Q2 handles the daily grind with ease and comfort – or having a bit of a ‘go’ on some winding roads, the Q2’s powertrain is more than up to the task.
The seven-speed DCT is at once refined and intuitive, and rarely if ever caught out of step with the prevailing need. The days of lag or lurching from standstill, certainly in this application, are in the past. Instead, the S tronic goes about its business calmly and effortlessly. You can play around with the paddle shifters if you like, but the dual-clutch knows what it’s doing.
There’s plenty of punch from the 2.0-litre turbo-four, with brisk getaways from standstill and equally enough in the tank for overtakes, should the situation demand it. Out on the freeway, the Q2 settles into an easy lope, tickling the tacho at 1750rpm at 100km/h in seventh gear.
Throw it at some twisties and the 40 TFSI is fun enough, if not outright thrilling. It certainly lacks some aural theatre, the four-pot remaining subdued even under firmer acceleration. There’s a hint of thrumminess, but it’s just that, a hint. If you’re after some hot-hatch-like roartiness, this isn’t the compact SUV for you.
If, on the other hand, you like tyre roar from your city crossover, then the Q2 Edition #2 on its 19-inch alloys shod with slim rubber – Bridgestone Potenza 235/40R19 all ’round – doesn’t disappoint, certainly on coarse-chip surfaces.
The 40 TFSI mitigates this somewhat with its excellent ride, neither too soft nor too firm. Settling quickly and easily over lumps and bumps, the Q2 provides a comfortable ride without being floaty or wafty.
Handling, too, remains a strong point, no doubt aided by Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive underpinnings. This is an agile corner-carver, if that’s what you want it to be, remaining sure under wheel and with surprisingly little body roll despite its elevated stature. The steering, too, is precise, if a little clinical. We’d venture, though, that corner-carving isn’t high on the list of requisites for buyers in this segment.
Instead, the Q2 trades on its funky, urban styling and attitude. Sure, those white wheels when married to a white body are probably a little too much (we can’t help but think the optional black rims would look better on white), but there remains an edginess to the Q2 that its Q3 stablemate simply doesn’t have.
Inside, Audi’s clinical interior execution results in a minimalist experience. Whereas rival brands Mercedes-Benz and BMW have opted for bling, Audi continues to tread a more style-driven path. From the straight lines of the dash to the simple use of materials, there remains an understated vibe inside the cabin.
The front seats – manually adjustable – are a little firm. Heated too. Conveniences in the front row include wireless phone charging, and a single USB point and 12V plug in a little storage nook ahead of the two cupholders. The cupholders also feature a clever little slot for the Q2’s keys, a nice touch, while the big storage bins in the doors can accommodate larger bottles.
In the absence of a touchscreen, Audi’s familiar rotary dial augmented by physical shortcut keys control the Q2’s vital infotainment functions. It remains intuitive and easy to use, even on the fly. The all-new Q3, though, does score Audi’s latest and greatest OS with touchscreen capability.
One area Audi continues to lead the way is with its Virtual Cockpit driver display which, as well as being easy to use while also providing a wealth of configurable information, highlights the shortcomings of those systems from rival brands that have tried to imitate it. It may not have the flashy presentation of some rival brands’ driver display, but in terms of usability, Virtual Cockpit is a star amongst a cast of supporting actors.
A little of the interior shine wears off in the second row where space is adequate, although creature comforts and amenities are notable by their absence. No cupholders, no USB points, no air vents, no fold-down armrest, while the door pockets are on the small side, and certainly not as capacious as those found up front. We’d venture Audi has scrimped on those inclusions expecting the bulk of sales to go to singles or young couples.
The back seats are more yielding and welcoming than the fronts, though, making for a comfortable second-row experience. That quattro-led driveshaft tunnel does make this an occasional five-seater only.
A powered tailgate at this end of the market is a nice touch, and opens gently to reveal a 355L boot, expanding to 1000L with the 60:40 second row stowed away. A quick run over with the tape measure reveals the boot is 100cm wide at its widest point, 76cm deep, and the height to the top of the seats is 45cm. There are a couple of bag hooks and two tie-down points, while a space-saver spare hides under the boot floor. The Q3, for the sake of context, features 530–1525L.
The Audi Q2 collected a five-star ANCAP rating back when it first graced our roads in 2016. It scored well in adult (93 per cent) and child (86 per cent) protection, while pedestrian protection was rated at 70 per cent.
In terms of airbags, the Q2 comes with dual front and side chest-protection for the front row, as well as side head-protecting ’bags for both front row and outboard second-row passengers.
The Q2 scored only 60 per cent for Safety Assist, missing out on key technologies like lane-keep assist and rear cross-traffic alert. There is autonomous emergency braking and blind-spot alert, and the cruise control is of the conventional (non-adaptive) type.
That said, it’s one of the better cruise-control functions we’ve sampled recently, maintaining the set speed with pinpoint accuracy, even while descending or ascending hills.
Audi claims the Q2 40 TFSI will get by on 6.5L/100km on the combined cycle. Our week with the Q2, spent in a variety of situations, returned a not unreasonable 7.1L/100km. Be aware that the Q2 needs 98RON premium unleaded to fully sate its 55L fuel tank.
The Q2 is covered by Audi’s prepaid servicing plan, which will set you back $1580 for three years or $2140 for five years’ scheduled maintenance. Intervals are 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first. Audi continues to offer skinny buyer surety with its three-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty – increasingly an anachronism in this day and age where five years is becoming the new normal.
There’s no denying the Q2 has a place in the automotive landscape; a funky style-led compact SUV that is certain to appeal to some buyers. But, there are shortcomings – space, missing safety tech, price – that are mitigated somewhat by its hot-hatch-like performance, even if it lacks the aural theatre of its lower-slung performance funsters.
And yet, despite its sporty performance married to an urban design language, it’s hard not to cast a sideways glance at the Q3 40 TFSI quattro sitting alongside in the showroom, where for similar money it offers the same drivetrain, similar levels of equipment and a lot more practicality. But, the Q3 is wrapped in an altogether more conventional body, appealing to a broader range and perhaps a different type of buyer.