Five minutes with an Audi Q2

What is it?

It’s Audi’s latest crossover/SUV, a lucrative arena for any manufacturer to venture into in this day and age.

Customers just can’t get enough of these high-riding machines and, like so many brands, the big German companies have been quick to capitalise.

With the Q3, Q5 and Q7 already in place, Audi had a few options open to it, and it’s going do all three eventually, but in essence the choices were: fill in the gaps in the existing range with a coupe version of one of the current models – like a Q4 adaptation of the Q3, rather like BMW and Mercedes have done with their X3/X4 and GLC/GLC Coupe vehicles respectively, make something larger than a Q7 – and indeed, a Q8 is on the way, which actually is a coupe SUV, so Audi is killing two birds with one stone here.

Or go to the other extreme, and build something even smaller than the compact Q3.

It chose the last option as the best place to start, so here, then, is the Q2.

Why are you driving it?

This is an Audi which competes against a new phalanx of rivals that the company isn’t accustomed to facing. Think of vehicles like the Jeep Cherokee, MINI Countryman and Peugeot 2008, and that’s the sort of size car the Q2 challenges.

What we need to know is whether Audi has pulled off a packaging miracle here and made the Q2 usable in the back, or whether it’s just another fashion trinket for people who must have the latest gadgets.

What do you like about it?

Lots of things – it is an Audi, after all, so class is assured.

The Q2’s interior is excellent, not just because it comes from Ingolstadt, but because it has large swathes of body-coloured fascia that make it feel youthful and a la mode.

It also drives in a composed manner, good enough on the handling front to make it feel like a hatchback and yet more than comfortable on the motorway, in spite of its short wheelbase and Sport-grade large alloys.

There are plenty of toys, a nice, ‘semi-command’ driving position and a really clever 1.4-litre engine that can shut off two of its four cylinders when required to save on fuel.

This system is utterly imperceptible in operation, so it’s a real boon on a petrol crossover that’s trying to match the economy of a diesel.

Any issues?

The styling should be commended for being distinctive, what with its silver side blade and heavily chamfered sides, but it will not be to all tastes.

The Q2 presents quite a challenging aesthetic, whereas the other ‘Q’ SUVs are quite sober, conservative designs that will appeal to a broader audience.

Furthermore, like any Audi, the Q2 is not cheap to buy in basic guise but even so, there’s a large list of cost options that can push the price up to levels where it starts to make much less sense than a modest-spec Q3; this test car was in excess of £28,500, for instance.

And, sadly, Audi hasn’t pulled off a magic trick – the rear seats are extremely tight for space, meaning taller adults or teenage children wouldn’t want to be in the back for long.

What’s it like as a business vehicle – are there any tax benefits?

Cheaper benefit-in-kind tax is provided courtesy of that clever ‘Cylinder-on-Demand’ system, as the TFSI 1.4 only emits 124g/km of CO2.

That places it in a reasonably lowly 23% rating, which couples with the car’s sub-£30,000 list price to make for affordable company car annual bills.

In reality, it managed to turn in slightly less than 40mpg average during a 900-mile week in its company, where much of the driving was conducted on motorways – so we were expecting a bit better consumption figures, if we’re honest.

Like many, many cars on sale, it loses out as a result of the new tax laws coming into effect on April 1 – the Q2 Sport’s three-year tax bill if you register it before April 1 will be £220, whereas after April 1 it will be twice that at £440, and it’ll cost an additional £30 VED every year you keep it thereafter.

Where does it rank in class right now?

It’s an Audi, so it’s guaranteed to be a strong contender.

If you can live with the exterior looks, you don’t have older (or taller) children and you don’t mind paying nearly £30,000 for a crossover that’s probably slightly less practical than an Audi A3, then there is little to fault about the Q2.

It has bags of youthful appeal that some of the company’s other products lack, while it drives in a typically accomplished and premium manner.

Small the Q2 may be, and it’s not quite perfectly formed, but it is almost certainly the new class leader in this particular crossover segment.

TECH SPEC

Model: Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI Cylinder-on-Demand 150 Sport
Price: Q2 range starts from £20,230; 1.4 TFSI Sport from £23,245, car as tested £28,655
Drivetrain: 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol, six-speed manual transmission, front-wheel drive
Economy: 52.3mpg
CO2 emissions: 124g/km – £0 VED first 12 months, then £110 annually thereafter, if registered before April 1, 2017/£160 first 12 months, £140 annually thereafter, if registered post-April 1, 2017; 23% benefit in kind
Top speed: 131mph
0-62mph: 8.5 seconds
Power: 150hp at 5,000- to 6,000rpm
Torque: 250Nm at 1,500- to 3,500rpm