2018 Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI S-tronic
(3.5 / 5)
Slotting in below the Q3, the Audi Q2 is designed to fill the subcompact luxury niche by offering four-ringed quality in a tiny package.
Remember when mobile phones first came out? They were affectionately known as a brick, mostly because that’s what they resembled, but also because of how heavy they were.
Then there were the flip phones. Not the ones that literally folded in half, we’re talking about the huge ones that had a small plastic flap to cover the keypad.
Then the fold-in-half flip phones came, and shortly after that the run of Nokias. Phones started getting smaller and smaller, while the batteries became more and more efficient.
It’s a bit like SUVs. They started out huge. Big machines that had the aerodynamics of a brick. And then add a bit of luxury kit and things got even heavier.
But over the years, luxury SUVs have been progressively shrinking. Smaller and smaller crossovers have been dominating the market for the past few years, until we’ve ended up with this – the Audi Q2.
It’s certainly a compact machine, and Audi hasn’t shied away from capitalising on the trend of luxury crossovers reducing in size. Rumour has it there’s even an Audi Q1 being planned.
Perhaps one day these tiny SUVs will increase in size again, just like our phones have. In the meantime, however, we’re going to see more of these little crossovers.
So, you’re probably wondering who the Q2 is going to appeal to. Well, it’s definitely not large families. And it’s not for people who will be carrying a lot of luggage.
Rather, young couples who want to get around in something that’s kitted out a bit nicer than something like the Suzuki Ignis, Buick Encore or Jeep Renegade.
In this respect it nails the brief perfectly. But is it worth spending your money on something that’s basically a jacked up Audi A3 (with which it shares a platform)?
Well, a week behind the wheel would sort that out.
Open the doors and you’re greeted with a neatly laid out cabin that looks almost identical to the A3, which makes sense, given the shared parts.
There are a few harder plastics around the place, particularly in the lower sections of the dash and the door cards, but generally it looks very Audi-like. And of course, given the SUV layout, there are some differences in presentation.
Things like the chunkier door grab handles and the rear seats which have been redesigned for better headroom. However, thanks to a shorter overall length, the legroom isn’t that great.
Luggage space is definitely practical, though. At 405 litres, it’s one of the bigger trunks in the subcompact SUV space.
The Q2 is definitely designed for front seat passengers with occasional rear seat travel, or small children which will be happiest back here.
Another clue to the front seat focus is the infotainment system, which runs Apple Car Play and Android Auto, and the stereo has an option for front passengers or all passengers for how it throws the sound through the speakers.
The whole Q2 line up gets Bluetooth phone and streaming, voice control, dual zone climate control, Audi’s MMI Navigation with a seven inch infotainment screen, front and rear parking sensors (including a rear view camera) and PreSense City (Audi’s name for full autonomous emergency braking).
There’s a massive options list, which is made of of tick-box packages. Audi’s 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit is on offer, there’s ambient lighting (which is pretty bright), electric tail-gate, LED headlights, HUD (head up display), a higher grade sat-nav, adaptive suspension and selective drive modes. But some of these are only available on higher grades, and with the larger engines.
Audi offers the Q2 with both a 2.0-litre diesel and a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol. And later on there will be an SQ2 with an even higher powered 2.0-litre petrol four.
Under the hood of our test car, you’ll find a turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder with cylinder shutdown tech. It’s not the most powerful engine around, with the motor producing 147hp (110kW) and 184lb-ft (250Nm).
But if you’re thinking it’ll be slower than a wet week, it will surprise you. It hits a 0-100kmh benchmark sprint time of 8.5 seconds. That’s thanks to a seven-speed dual clutch gearbox (S-tronic) which shifts quickly and keeps the engine in its peak torque (between 1500-3500rpm).
The Q2 1.4 TFSI only comes in front wheel drive, so you don’t have to worry about using extra fuel to occasionally run the rear wheels, meaning it’s quite frugal.
Audi says it consumes 5.3L/100km combined (44mpg) but that’s a bit unrealistic. In our testing we recorded 7.1L/100km (33mpg), which was running around the city exclusively, and with some spirited runs.
The engine is very smooth, very quiet and to be truthful, the Q2 just feels like a slightly heavier A3. And that’s a theme that runs through the steering and braking, too.
The main difference is in the ride. It’s a firm ride, but it’s better than the A3 which can be a little uncomfortable, depending on which wheels it’s fitted with. The Q2 1.4 runs on the smallest wheels, which doesn’t look as funny as when it’s on a luxury hatch.
And that makes the ride bearable. In fact, more than bearable, it’s quite comfortable. Of course, it would be even more so with the adaptive dampers, but they’re not available on the 1.4 model.
But the tradeoff between ride and handling is very good, with surefooted grip and with the steering offering quick turn-in, it’s not so disconnected that the Q2 feels numb.
It’s not exactly sporting, but will keep most keen drivers happy enough.
Overall, the Q2 is a package which fits the brief. It offers a cheap way into a four-ringed SUV, and gives you a nicely built machine that sits in that tiny crossover niche without too many direct competitors – think Merc GLA and BMW X2.
It also looks different enough to separate it from the rest of Audi’s matryoshka doll range.
But while the 1.4 TFSI is pleasant enough, it’s the sharper and punchier 2.0 TFSI that would be our pick. It’s only a few grand more, but the transformed drive experience and the slight extra fuel use would definitely be worthwhile.
Photos: Jan Glovac Photography