Audi Q2

A mostly charming Q-car baby, yours for a non-junior price

RYAN LEWIS

FIRST AUSSIE DRIVE

THE ONSLAUGHT of new SUVs from Ingolstadt has just reached fever pitch as the brandís coolest, edgiest Q model yet Ė the baby Q2 Ė debuts ahead of an baby Q2 Ė debuts ahead of an all-new Q5 due later in the year.

The Q2 introduces a fresh, customisable look and a more youthful personality, built upon yet another derivation of the VW Groupís ubiquitous MQB platform.

Crisp, forward-looking design stocked with driver-assistance and convenience technology comes in a conscious play by Audi to attract a younger generation of buyers to its showrooms.

Logically, the Q2 slots beneath the ageing, more conservative Q3.

The two models have wheelbases just 5mm apart, the Q2ís wheels pushed further towards the corners of a taut, 200mm-shorter body, leaving enough legroom in the back for two adults to travel comfortably.

Boot space is less generous at 405 litres, but thatís surely adequate when you consider the Q2 is aimed at young couples rather than small families. A meatier front-end, a coupe-esque roofline, and a more athletic body clearly sets Q2 apart from Q3. Price wise, a mere $1800 separates the two.

A pair of Q2 variants will be offered initially. The Q2 Design opens the batting at $41,100 powered by a 110kW/250Nm 1.4-litre turbo-petrol four driving the front wheels. Above it sits the Q2 Sport from $47,900, with a 110kW/340Nm 2.0-litre TDI four and quattro all-wheel drive.

Both versions feature a seven-speed dual-clutch íbox and include AEB, parking sensors and rear-view camera, smartphone interface, and Audiís MMI navigation system. The Q2 Sport adds an electric tailgate, sports seats, lane assist, larger alloy wheels and premium alloy interior finishes.

Option packs unlock further flavour (and cost) including a beautiful high-res digital display, LED headlights, ambient lighting, keyless entry/start, adaptive cruise and S-line styling packages.

A range-topping 2.0-litre TFSI version with quattro will be added to the Q2 line-up mid-year.

In the meantime itís the base 1.4-litre petrol thatís the sweetest Q2. Itís a refined and perky little engine, with remarkably linear power delivery for a smallcapacity turbo. To save fuel it is able to imperceptibly shut off two of its four cylinders, improving economy to a mere 5.3L/100km.

In front-driven guise, Q2 has a torsion-beam rear suspension, whereas the quattro gets a multilink set-up. Regardless, the 1.4 hangs on tenaciously when thrown around.

Less weight over the front end compared to the diesel makes it feel less susceptible to understeer. Its steering is natural and has enough feel to make this city-slicking high-rider a more involving drive than the average small SUV.

That sports edge to the Q2ís character shows through in its firm ride. The chubby 17-inch wheel and tyre package fitted to the base car is noticeably more forgiving over lumps and bumps than the optional 19s, which communicate more of whatís underneath. Road noise is noticeable though wind noise is hushed, and Audiís reputation for impeccable interior quality and control tactility is upheld by Q2ís TT-inspired, driver-focused cabin.

With the burgeoning Q-family contributing more than 40 percent to Audiís Aussie sales in 2016, the Q2ís significance canít be underplayed. Itís a convincing, style-driven package with enough substance to lure hatchback devotees, and with gruntier versions set to sweeten its appeal.

Model Engine Max Power Max Torque Transmission Weight 0-100km/h Economy Price On sale Audi Q2 2.0 TDI quattro Sport 1968cc 4cyl, dohc, 16v, turbo 110kW @ 5000-6000rpm 340Nm @ 1750-3000rpm 7-speed dual-clutch 1475kg 8.1sec (claimed) 5.0L/100km $47,900 Now

PLUS & MINUS

Little cost saving compared with the larger Q3; road noise ; no manual Neatly proportioned styling; well packaged; efficient engines; slick DSG

Starter pack

A Q2 launch special tagged ĎEdition#1í is built around the 1.4 TFSI model and comes only in Quantum Grey. On top of basic Design equipment, you get some of the driver assistance options standard, including adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, active lane assist and side assist.

Blacked-out elements and the S-line exterior package finish the $49,900 limited edition. Alternatively, the extra $8800 could be put towards additions from the extensive options list, such as Audiís slick Virtual Cockpit or head-up display.

OR TRY THESE...

Mini Countryman Cooper $39,900

New-gen F60 Countryman is the Q2ís only direct rival, offering a similar level of personalisation.

Nearest match to the base Q2 is the Countryman Cooper, though its 1.5-litre turbo triple isnít as punchy and drinks a bit more juice.

Audi A3 2.0 TFSI Sport $45,900

A lower price Ė and centre of mass Ė are the main reasons to wander across an Audi showroom to the A3.

Until the Q2 2.0 TFSI quattro arrives, thereís also greater engine diversity in the A3 line-up, if not quite as much high-street chic.