Review: Audi Q2

With its success in compact, medium and large SUVs well established, it was only a matter of time before Audi moved down the scale and filled out its crossover list with the Q2, writes Brian Byrne.

While technically a small crossover/SUV, it's actually a quite roomy car, and surprises when you pick it up in the metal. So there's a case for it in a real family situation, rather than for the couple with a brace of small children only.

It has rather more stylistic presence than its larger siblings, and that's not just because my review car was a bright yellow machine that simply couldn't be missed in the car park.

The front end is strong and square-jawed, and in profile there's more sculpting and character line work than on the larger SUVs from the VW premium subsidiary. The rear flanks and the black wide C-pillar work very well to give the car a very distinctive look. It sits nicely high too, and for a tall lank like me it was easy to get in and out of. Something I nowadays appreciate much more, as sleeker styling necessitates more ducking (and banging) the head.

Inside is also familiar to any of us who have regularly driven Audis, and that means bright and clear-graphics primary instruments, along with the typical upright screen from the top centre of the dashboard. The overall styling details of the interior are clean and there's the high quality trim we're used to from the brand.

Good seats, an interior more roomy than might have been expected, and an overall refined character to the machine quickly reinforced what had been a good feeling about the Q2 from the beginning.

The review car was pretty well loaded with technology, including active cruise control, overtaking vehicle warning, and a number of other bits and pieces which are now becoming regulars in most brands and many of their models and if I continue to list them all, there'd be no space to write anything else.

One element in the car that I particularly liked, though, was the sat-nav system that uses Google Maps for its display. Better than the usual graphic maps, that we could see actual buildings, fields, and other landmarks from overhead, gave a much better sense of place as I drove. It is also much more helpful when trying to find one's way around places like business estates.

That system also duplicates itself in the virtual cockpit system between the main instruments, or in a different format for those instruments. It's one of the ideas which Audi has been pushing ahead of the field, and one of the technologies which I really welcome.

There's a wide range of engines available with the Q2, from 1.0 turbocharged petrol with 115hp to a 190hp 2.0 diesel. Each offer the option of a 6-speed manual or 7-speed auto. The upper level engines can also be had with quattro 4WD, otherwise the cars are FWD.

The engine in my review car was the 150hp turbocharged 1.4 petrol with the autobox. That powertrain made it a very snappy drive indeed, along with the smoothness of the automatic which also meant I could amble along if that was my humour.

The ride and handling were very tidy, and that was no surprise, because that's a feature of all Audis in recent years.

What was a little surprising was the sense of fun in being behind the wheel of this one. Not because it was a particularly fun car in itself, but because I knew that from outside people were seeing a much crisper-looking Audi than we've been getting. Styles cycle, and the brand is now swinging in the direction of strong shapes rather than sleekness.

This particular car wasn't cheap, because it came with a lot of stuff. The base Q2 is just under €31,000, and this auto version starts at €35,980. With its S-Line grade and all the extras, it stood outside my house at €45,448. That's expensive for a car in this segment. But I'd be right happy with the basic SE and this powertrain, at €35,980.

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