Audi Q2 review: crossover tested in the UK

The Audi Q2 certainly looks a bit different. Does it feel it?

Well, this is the time to do ourselves an Audi Q2 review as it’s just landing in the UK. We did drive it before, but in Cuba, which hardly provides an accurate simulation of the sort of roads and driving this new Audi small crossover will face here.

How small a crossover?

A worthwhile question. It’s slightly smaller than an A3 Sportback. The wheelbase is as per the A3 three-door, not the longer A3 Sportback. So the back seat legroom is a bit stingy. But the boot is fairly handy (if you don’t tick the subwoofer option which raises the floor to a crazy extent). It’s pitched as a crossover for couples or singles rather than families.

It might be smaller but prices are just above the A3 Sportback. What makes the Audi range look a little uneasy is that the Q3 ain’t much bigger than the Q2. Not yet anyway. The next Q3 will have to grow. Just as all German cars do with each new generation.

So the Q2 is a rival for the Mini Countryman and Fiat 500X?

You’ve nailed it. Although Audi likes to pretend it’s got no rivals and is therefore #untaggable.

Do we like the looks?

Over the past few years Audi’s design has fallen into rut of timid conservatism. The Q2 is the first one shaped since Marc Lichte took over as design chief, and it has more individuality. That stretched-out hexagon facet under the side windows is a novel technique to emphasise the wheel-arches.

You can configure the looks. Choose SUV-alike dark arches and lower bumpers as in the red car here, or body-colour as in the yellow one. That blade covering the rear pillar is available in five colours (five shades of grey to be accurate), and inside there are lots of options for the decorative strips on the dash. You might find them cheery and colourful, or wildly garish.

What’s the Q2’s mechanical CV?

Under the skin is the VW Group’s usual MQB platform, which makes the Q2 fairly light. In fact the range starts with a front-drive 1.0-litre three-cylinder, weighing in at 1,205kg. Though you can add 170kg to that for a 2.0-litre diesel with Quattro and S tronic.

The engines are familiar Audi stuff, but so far there’s nothing beyond 150bhp. More powerful diesel and petrol engines will follow. Our pick so far is the front-drive 150bhp petrol 1.4. It cuts two cylinders on light throttle, but does it so smoothly you wouldn’t know. Because the Q2 is light, there’s pretty sprightly performance across a wide rev band, and little lag. It fits well with the six-speed manual but especially the seven-speed S tronic.

I also tried the 1.6-litre diesel with 116bhp. It’s slow and noisy, and hobbled by over-long gear ratios. Avoid.

Fun to steer?

Well the steering is accurate and very well-calibrated – this is an easy car to thread down a narrow winding road or city street. But fun? Not so much. There’s little feedback or joie de vivre if you get more ambitious through bends. Things improve slightly with the (£200) sport suspension option, without harming the ride greatly. So we find ourselves in the unusual position of recommending the firmer chassis option in a mainstream Audi.

So the ride’s good?

Sorry, not really. It’s pretty stiff-legged at low speed, and never quite settles even on a motorway. You’d accept that in a hot hatch, but it’s irritating when there isn’t the cornering verve to compensate.

OK but this is an Audi, so the cabin must be terrific.

Yes it is – even without the ooohs and aaaahs of its (optional) virtual instruments or ultra-high-power navigation or multi-colour LED mood lighting. Audi does materials and ergonomics very well. Boring to keep saying it, but it’s a fact and it draws the buyers in.

Yet in the Q2’s case there is evidence of pfennigs being pinched. The door casings are hard hollow plastic. The A-posts aren’t faced in cloth. The air vents are a simplified and cheapened version of the complex items in the A3.

And the tech?

Oh yes, it’s a highlight. Every version gets a 7in screen with smartphone mirroring for your phone’s tunes and nav. And city auto-braking. If you go one stage up to Sport trim (+£1550), high-level connected navigation comes your way, with a bigger screen and live traffic. Also on the option are LED headlights, radar cruise control, active lane-keeping, adaptive damping, HUD and more.

Dunno why you’re road-testing it. It’s going to sell by the shedload whatever you say…

Very possibly. Crossovers all do, and for a premium-brand one the Audi Q2 is actually quite sharply priced. Except I’m not sure this is enough of a crossover.

Imagine an A3 restyled in Audi’s new design language, then lift its body to make an A3 Allroad. That, basically, is the Q2. The body isn’t very tall and you don’t get the high seating of most crossovers. I’m struggling to think of a question to which Audi Q2 is the answer.