MEET the Q2… an Audi like you have never seen before.
The premium car maker is renowned for quality but plays a safe bat with styling (R8 and TT excluded) taking a restrained, conservative approach.
Cynics will say most Audis are bland, inside and out, and while that is a fair assessment of body styling the dashboard layout, while minimalist, is way ahead of its time with the virtual cockpit display.
This compact SUV is new territory for the German brand and in a modest way has broken its conservative styling rules. There is no doubting Q2 has the Audi DNA running right through it but unlike the other Qs is quite attractive mainly because it is not as tall as its 3, 5 and 7 brothers and has, by Audi standards, a daring C pillar which does lift its profile.
May be the Audi designers looked at the innovative Citroen Cactus and thought ‘that’s a good idea let’s build on it’.
Whether they did or not, the wide C pillar panel is an important feature and comes in different shades, depending on the model. At the launch we saw grey metallic, silver and titanium grey although I suspect the white option is the most striking. What a shame they didn’t go for broke and offer a wider pallet of colours but then these are early days for ‘new’ Audi.
Q2 would appear to signal a change of direction for the premium brand - when have you ever seen bold coloured inlays running across the dashboard and the knee insert trim? Bring it on I say, it’s refreshing and eye catching, although if it is too much buyers can specify gentler illuminated inlays.
What is absolutely clear is that Audi wants to attract a younger audience to Q2 because that is the target market. As well as brighter, younger style features in the cabin, the car comes in louder colours including a stand out vibrant yellow, and there are lots of opportunities to personalise the car, something car makers lower down the ladder have been doing for years.
Audi is actually a bit late on the compact SUV scene with Mini Countryman, BMW X1 and Mercedes GLA already sitting with their feet under the table. Of those only the Mini has X Factor looks while Q2 will aim to attract the young rich offering the tools for modern living. It is packed with the sort of technology that young people expect as a given so the smart phone interface and brilliant virtual cockpit will go down well.
For those more interested in the way the Q2 drives a rare feast is in store. The MQB platform which underpins more recent Audis has transformed the driving dynamics and propelled the A4 to the top of the ratings.
So it will be with Q2 which is a joy to drive, perfectly balanced and cleverly sprung, offering a mix of grippy handling and surprising comfort, some of that down to the bodyweight which is the lightest in the segment.
Move to the top S Line model and the ride firms up for a more engaging drive, but for the first time customers wanting S Line trim can opt for standard suspension which would be my choice because it better suits the nature of the car.
Small it may be but the Q2s cabin space is generous with good rear legroom and a decent sized boot.
A much anticipated 114bhp three-cylinder one litre petrol will kick off the range in SE trim with a price of £20,230 followed by the excellent 147bhp turbocharged 1.4TFSI petrol which is expected to be the main seller in the middle ground Sport trim. This is a superb engine and would be my choice.
Q2 will be out of reach of a lot of people until it hits the second hand market but that is one of the vagaries of wanting a premium car – they are expensive.
A lot of the driver aids and luxuries that are standard in the lower leagues are extras here and a full hit can push the price to well over £30,000