2018 Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI S-tronic
Road Test Review
(3.5 / 5)
Slotting in below the Q3, the Audi Q2 is designed to fill the sub-compact luxury niche by offering four-ringed quality in a tiny package. Or should that be micro-compact SUV?
If you were around when the personal computer (PC) started to take off, you’ll remember how big and bulky they were.
The good-old 286, with its cream-colored case and green CRT screen was a big beast. Then the 386, the 486 and the Pentium all filled our living rooms.
Slowly but surely, however, they became more compact, more efficient. Now, you can sit an iPad on your lap and surf the internet, watch TV or send emails.
Imagine trying to fit a 286 on your lap…
The same thing has happened with SUVs. When they were first becoming popular, they were big machines with big wheels, lots of ground clearance and plenty of ability in the rough.
However, as time has moved on these machines have started to become smaller. Luxury crossovers, especially, have shrunk to the point where some of them are no more than a jacked-up hatchback. Including this one: the Audi Q2.
There’s no denying it fits into the subcompact category, but it’s so small you’d have to wonder if a new category will be created – the microcompact SUV?
As such, it’s not aimed at those who will be ferrying five people around all the time. This is more a couples’ or single’s car. It gives them a taste of the four rings without breaking the bank.
Unlike the Suzuki Ignis, the Buick Encore or Jeep Renegade, you’re getting a sense of luxury but still get to have a crossover, too. You’d have to wonder, though, why not just buy an Audi A3, from which the Q2 gets its basis?
Well, swing the front door open and you’d swear you have bought an A3, given the interior is a near replica.
Like its donor vehicle, the Q2 features some very nice materials, though if you look a bit lower down you’ll find some cheaper plastics. However, the whole layout fits with the brand and it even differentiates itself from the A3.
There are thicker grab handles on the doors, the back seats take better advantage of a slightly taller roof and the angle of the squab has been altered to make it a little more comfortable.
We say a little because there still isn’t a huge amount of legroom, nor will there ever be in a vehicle of this size. Except of course, for the Honda HR-V – now there’s a lesson to be learned for any car company.
Open the trunk and the cargo space is quite good, given the vehicle’s overall size – at 405 liters, there’s enough room for luggage for two.
From the dimensions and the layout, you can see that the Q2 has been designed with two on board and the occasional third or fourth passenger. And if those third and fourth are kids, you won’t have any complaints.
In the centre is a small, but clear screen for the infotainment system, which gets both Apple Car Play and Android Auto. There’s also Bluetooth telephony and streaming, voice commands (which understands speech very accurately), twin-zone climate control, and the company’s MMI Navigation.
Also included are front and rear parking sensors (with a reversing camera) and Audi PreSense City (which is basically autonomous emergency braking).
If you want options to personalize your car, you can go nuts with a huge list. You can get the 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit, an electric tail-gate, super-bright ambient lighting, HUD (head up display), LED headlamps, more advanced Sat-Nav, drive mode selector and adjustable dampers.
The Q2 comes as standard with our 1.4-liter engine, but you can also opt for a 2.0-liter diesel or a 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engine, both four-cylinders. And we’ve even had confirmation of a more powerful SQ2 that gets the S3’s 2.0-litre turbo four.
Open up the hood of our test vehicle and a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder sits there, enabled with cylinder shutdown to save fuel. It’s a small engine, so don’t expect massive outputs but 147 hp (110 kW) and 184 lb-ft (250 Nm) are more than enough.
In fact it will do 0-62 mph in 8.5 seconds, which isn’t hanging around. part of its turn of speed is the seven-speed dual clutch transmission (Audi calls it “S-tronic”) that gives very quick shifts but also uses the engine’s peak torque to good effect.
As the only front-wheel-drive version in the range, the Q2 1.4 TFSI is good on fuel because it’s not using extra to drive the rear wheels.
Audi’s official figures are 5.3L/100 km combined (44 mpg) however we found that to be a bit optimistic. A week behind the wheel in the city returned 7.1L/100 km (33 mpg), which is more like what you can expect.
Like all Audi engines, this one is quiet and smooth, and overall the drive experience is much like having a bulkier A3. Likewise for the braking and steering, which all thankfully feel familiar.
Where the A3 and Q2 start to differ is in the suspension. The Q2 is a heavier car and the ride is a tad firmer to account for the higher body.
However, the 1.4 TFSI gets fitted with the smallest wheels which makes the ride actually quite comfortable. Sure, you can feel that there’s some resistance in the springs – and it would be much better with the adaptive dampers – but the ride/handling balance is one that has worked out well for the Q2.
So, you can throw it around and have a bit of fun. In fact, it’s more playful than most people would give it credit for. But an S3 it ain’t. And that’s why we can’t wait for the SQ2.
The Audi Q2 sits in a market that is already quite competitive, with the Mercedes-Benz GLA and BMW X2 all vying for the buyer’s attention.
But the Q2 has been designed to look quite different to the rest of the Audi range, giving it an edge.
And sure, the smallest engine is a good one, but it doesn’t quite grab you in the same way as the much quicker 2.0-liter version. Add to that the extra surety of all-wheel-drive and you’ve found the sweet spot in the Audi Q2 lineup.
Photos: Jan Glovac Photography