Funky isn’t a word you’d necessarily associate with Audi’s “Vorsprung durch Technik”, but that’s precisely what you get with the distinctive new Q2.
The newest, smallest SUV to join the ever-expanding Audi range will please traditionalists, while also attracting newer customers who might otherwise go for the established, more run-of-the-mill alternatives.
Audi claims it’s created a new compact premium SUV segment with the Q2, but in reality its rivals include the Mercedes-Benz GLA, MINI Countryman and Mazda MX-3 at one end, and the Renault Captur, Vauxhall Mokka and Citroen C4 Cactus at the other.
Slightly lower than most of its competitors thanks to its sporty roofline, the Q2 is perhaps closest in size overall to the Cactus.
Priced from £22,380, there are three trim levels to choose from (SE, Sport and S Line) and five engines, ranging from a 150PS 1.0-litre three-cylinder TFSI petrol to a 160PS 2.0-litre diesel, with a 190PS 2.0-litre TFSI to follow late in 2017.
I drove versions with the 1.6-litre diesel and 1.4-litre petrol units. Unusually, Audi expects the latter to be the most popular, while customers are also expected to go for the higher trim levels (Sport and S Line).
Our pick would be a 1.4 TFSI model in S Line spec with 7-speed S tronic gearbox, though we’re looking forward to driving the 1.0-litre TFSI version, featuring one of the best three-pot engines in the business.
The first thing that strikes you about the Q2 is that it looks like no other compact SUV. We’ve already mentioned its height, but it also features clean, sculpted lines and a C-pillar which is available in various colours.
Add that to the range of exterior colours, including our favourite – Vegas Yellow – and you have a car that stands out, in a good way.
Hop inside and it has Audi’s signature premium look and feel, and the higher the trim level you opt for, the better it gets.
The seating position is comfortable, if a fraction lower than some rivals. Visibility is good and there’s plenty of room up front and in the rear. There’s definitely room for four 6ft adults, though much taller passengers at the back might struggle for headroom. Luggage space is a decent 405 litres (1,050 with the back seats down).
The dashboard design, ventilation controls and materials used are up to Audi’s high standard, and naturally it features state-of-the-art connectivity, plus multi-colour LED mood lighting.
The Q2 is equipped with a 7-inch infotainment screen (an 8-inch upgrade is available) positioned high on the instrument panel and there’s a rotary controller and additional shortcut switches lower down near the gear selector.
DAB radio, multi-function steering wheel, air-conditioning are standard, but if you got for the higher trim levels, options such as cruise control, automatic lights and wipers, plus various driver and safety aids come within range.
We’d recommend going for the Audi Virtual Cockpit – the impressively fluid 12.3-inch driver’s digital display first seen on the TT.
So how does it go? Well, it’s easy to find the right driving position and the smooth 1.4-litre petrol engine is a punchy performer, while the car itself drives more like a hatchback than an SUV/crossover.
The ride may be a little firm for some, but it’s refined and more spirited drivers can switch to the Dynamic option in Audi Drive Select where the Q2 feels particularly planted with well-controlled body lean and precise steering. Most off all, it’s a lot of fun. For the record, it’s capable of 0-60mph in 8.5 seconds and a top speed of 132mph.
With a claimed 54mpg and low CO2 emissions of 119g/km, running costs are competitive.
The Q2 is a premium choice with plenty of kit, but for many it will be the connectivity and personalisation options that swing it.
Whether it’s switching the mood lighting inside or choosing a vibrant colour and contrasting C-pillar blade for the exterior, few Q2s will look identical.
Yes, the Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI S line S tronic will set you back around £30,000, but for that money you get a classy, practical, modern compact SUV with a sportier, lower profile and impressive driving dynamics.
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