- Published 04 March 2020
- 7 minute read
- By Gavin Braithwaite-Smith
Audi knows that you want a small SUV. It also knows that you’re prepared to sacrifice some practicality in favour of standout styling, clever tech and a range of personalisation options. Which is where the Q2 comes in.
The Q2 is Audi’s smallest SUV – there’s no Audi Q1 (yet) – and it sits somewhere between the A3 Sportback and Q3 SUV in size. Think of it as an Audi A3 on stilts, with a look that distinguishes it, from Audi's other SUVs and all the rival models as well.
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As with the majority of fun-size SUVs, you’re not expected to get the Q2’s feet dirty. Although four-wheel drive is available, the Q2 is designed for the urban jungle, where its high driving position, low running costs and easy-to-handle approach rise to the fore.
The question is, should you form an orderly queue for the Audi Q2, or would your money be better spent on the Audi A3? Alternatively, should you splash out on the larger and more practical Q3? Right on cue, we have the answers – along with a promise to stop with the Q gags already.
Looks, tech and design
Lego doesn’t design Audi SUVs, but if it did, the result would look something like the Q2. Audi calls it a ‘distinctively geometric form language’, which in real terms means that there are lots of vertices and edges.
Personally, I think the success of the styling comes down to the trim level or choice of colour. A Q2 Technik riding on 16-inch rims and finished in solid white can look a bit rental car. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Black Edition and Vorsprung are a bit try hard and aggressive.
Perhaps the neatest touch on the outside is the rear-most roof pillar, which is available in a contrasting colour finish, a feature that's unique to the Q2 among small SUVs, and actually a covert reference to the Audi R8 supercar.
On the inside, the cabin isn’t as impressive as you might hope. Until you add some of the personalisation extras or must-have tech, it’s all a bit plain Jane. Some of the interior plastics feel out of place in a car with an Audi badge, too, and the rear seats aren't especially spacious.
The smaller and cheaper Audi A1 supermini feels more special, and it comes with the fancy Virtual Cockpit as standard. This digital instrument display is a £1,500 option on all Q2s except the £37,500 Vorsprung edition, which also boasts a larger 8.3-inch central display.
Audi will tempt you into the showroom with the promise of a £22,500 Q2 Technik, but the majority of buyers will opt for the £24,000 Sport or £26,500 S line. Once you’ve ticked a few boxes on the options list, you’re knocking on the door of £30,000, which is where it gets harder to recommend the Q2.
At that price, the larger and more practical Audi Q3 looms into view, with its more bountiful array of standard equipment. For a little over £31,000, the Q3 Sport boasts LED headlights, dynamic rear indicators, Virtual Cockpit, sport seats and 18-inch alloy wheels. I’d choose the Q3, even if the me-too styling leaves me cold.
In simple terms, an Audi Q2 for £25,000 makes sense, but a £30,000 Q2 doesn’t. Not unless you must have that Lego-inspired styling.
In reality, you’re not going to buy an Audi Q2 to go hunting down sports cars on a rural back road. Not even the SQ2 – which is essentially a high-performance Volkswagen Golf R hot hatch squeezed into an SUV suit – feels particularly enjoyable to drive. It’s quick, sure-footed and assured, but it’s strangely devoid of excitement.
When I say ‘quick’, I mean properly quick. The SQ2 will hurtle 0-62mph in just 4.8 seconds, before hitting a top speed that's limited to 155mph. It will even do a passable impression of a bowl of Rice Krispies when you lift the throttle, with the sound of snap, crackle and pop spitting out of the quad exhaust pipes.
But since you have to pay in the region of £40,000 for the privilege, the SQ2 is probably not going to be at the top of most shopping lists.
If you want the most comfortable Q2, I’d point you in the direction of the entry-level Technik model, with its modest 16-inch alloy wheels. However, I know that you fancy a bit of bling, so upgrading to the Sport and its 17-inch rims needn’t mean a weekly trip to the chiropractor.
The Q2 shares much of its engineering with the A3 hatchback, so it drives nicely - the loftier stance doing little to interfere with the handling. Perhaps the greatest compliment I can give is that the Q2 feels more like a hatchback than an SUV.
There are far too many engines to choose from, but if you spend most of your time in the city, I’d recommend the 1.0-litre petrol (known as the 30 TFSI). If your daily commute includes motorways and long distances, opt for the 1.6 diesel (labelled the 30 TDI).
Cost and economy
I’ve already touched on the fact that the Audi Q2 can get rather expensive once you’ve spent a little too much time with the personalisation options.
You might not fancy a Skoda Kamiq in the way you fancy a Q2, but the Audi’s Czech mate offers far more bang for your koruna. Even the flagship Monte Carlo costs less than £23,500 and offers a level of kit that would cost thousands more on a Q2. Dare I say that the Kamiq Monte Carlo also looks better than the Audi?
The Skoda is just one example of a number of cars that offer better value for money. It all comes down to how much you want the associated qualities of the Audi badge and the snazzy contrasting rear pillars.
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As for fuel economy, there’s little to choose between the 30 TFSI petrol and 30 TDI diesel on paper, though we'd bank on the diesel proving the cheaper long-distance companion.
Bear in mind that you’ll need to drive the 1.0 petrol quite hard to get the best from it, which will quickly cause it to start drinking fuel more heavily. A larger engine may be a more suitable choice if you're often in a hurry.
Monthly leasing deals start from around £275 for a Q2 30 TFSI Technik, rising to £870 for an SQ2 Vorsprung. For context, Q3 prices start from £350, but you do get more space and toys for the money.
If you’ve been reading between the lines, you’ll know that the verdict writes itself. Audi deserves credit for taking a different approach with the Q2, rather than sticking a Q3 through a photocopier on 80 percent.
But when you scratch beneath the surface, it’s little more than a jacked-up Audi A3 in a Lego outfit, with some questionable interior plastics, cramped rear space and a pretty miserly approach to standard equipment.
Because of this, the best Q2s are the cheaper ones - if you've got a bigger budget to blow then you're better off looking at a better car. The Audi Q3, for instance.
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