The Q2 is the newest and smallest of what has now become Audi’s four-model SUV line-up. Its relationship with the much larger Q5 and Q7 is at best tenuous, but it’s a very close relative of the Q3; both are based on the MQB platform also used in the A3, the VW Golf, the SEAT Leon and all manner of other vehicles produced by the Volkswagen Group.
At first sight, making a less practical version of the Q3 might not seem the best idea Audi has ever had. In fact, the plan here is to attract customers in the compact SUV sector. These fine folk have had plenty to choose from in the past, but none of the offerings, however splendid they may be, could really be described as premium. Audi, sensing an opportunity, has developed one that certainly could.
At 4191mm from bumper to bumper, the Q2 is on the long side for a car in this class, but it’s also quite low, with a roofline between two and four inches closer to the ground than those of most rivals. The combined effect is that it feels unusually like a conventional hatchback to drive, at the expense of the high-set driving position which compact SUV buyers often favour.
Other than that, the Q2 doesn’t feel low when you’re sitting inside it. There’s plenty of headroom all round, and enough legroom to satisfy four six-foot occupants. The luggage capacity is modest, amounting to 405 litres when the rear seats are folded down and 1050 litres when they’re not. Nearly all rival models can beat this, though I suppose the reaction of an unsatisfied Audi enthusiast wouldn’t be to choose one of those but to buy a Q3 instead.
The styling isn’t far off what you might have guessed it would be, though the creasing along the sides is unusual. You can personalise the exterior look to some extent by choosing a different colour (black, grey, white or silver) for what Audi calls the C-pillar blade, which covers the expanse of metal where the rear side windows should be.
All very cute, but it makes bugger all difference to the rear visibility, which is very poor. I fear Audi has got to the point where it is no longer merely unconcerned about this but actually proud of it, and sadness descends upon me.
By the time the range is completed in mid 2017 the list of available engines will include a 115bhp 1.0 TFSI three-cylinder turbo petrol, a 148bhp 1.4 TFSI with cylinder-on-demand and 1.6- and two-litre TDI diesels with the same 115bhp and 148bhp outputs. The 1.4 TFSI, on sale right from the start, is expected to be the most popular, and it’s very good, but personally I slightly prefer the 1.6 TDI.
There are choices of manual or S tronic semi-automatic transmission and front- or four-wheel drive. The last of these may seem irrelevant in a car that isn’t likely to be used off-road very often, but from experience on the UK press launch I can say that both the 1.4 TFSI and the 1.6 TDI are strong enough to create wheelspin when the Q2 is being driven away sharply from a T-junction.
The familiar drive select system is available either as standard or optionally across the range, but only in a limited form. It gives a choice of different modes for steering assistance, accelerator response and, where appropriate, S tronic gear selection and adaptive cruise control; it can’t, however, affect the suspension damping, so don’t expect to be able to use it to affect the ride or handling.
In increasing order of standard equipment, the trim levels are called SE, Sport, S line and Edition #1, Sport being predicted to be the most popular and SE (which I think I like best, being quite a fan of lower-spec Audis in general) the least.
The more expensive models have a choice of standard or sports suspension, but the set-ups are very similar, and you can make much more difference to the ride quality in particular with your choice of wheel size. 16s are the norm, though I haven’t driven a Q2 on those yet. Of the options, 17s are better than 18s.
Of the models going on sale now, the cheapest is the 1.4 TFSI front-wheel drive SE manual at £22,380, while the most expensive is the £35,730 2.0 TDI S tronic quattro Edition #1. Rival models are of course much cheaper (the most basic Nissan Juke, for example, can be yours for under £15,000) but the fact that only the Q2 bears Audi’s four-ringed logo will surely be of great importance to the well-funded and badge-conscious.