Audi Q2 first drive review: When an SUV stands small but dreams big
Once upon a time, there were five brothers - each known as much for his muscular looks and sophisticated style quotient as his panache while on the move. And when they moved around and about, people stood up to take note. Yes they had rivals, some very competent ones at that, but the five brothers in the Q family of the Audi clan - even if they were not all present together at the same time ever - still had a massive fan following of their own and with good reason. Q3, Q5, Q7, Q8 and RS Q8 have indeed defined what Audi can do when it comes to its much-acclaimed SUV lineage but the time now is for this family to say hello to its newest and smallest member around - the Q2. Yes, Q2 is all set for an India debut as the smallest member of the Q family and will also be the most affordable.
Audi will officially launch Q2 in India on October 16 but I got a chance to spend an entire day with the baby SUV to find out if this spirited young addition to Audi's SUV portfolio holds its ground - on its own merit as well as against its siblings.
SUV with a style of its own
Is it me or does Q2 also sound a whole lot like 'cute too'? Regardless of what my ears may comprehend, my eyes indeed see a rather cute-looking SUV which is a diversion from the menacing and butch SUVs Audi is often known for.
To label Q2 as an SUV is likely to be extremely common but one look at the vehicle and it is quite clear that it has visual trademarks of clearly being a crossover. From the front, the large octagonal single-frame grille, the wedge-shaped LED head lights and the sculpted bonnet all come together to vociferously scream that this here is an Audi, an Audi SUV. And yet, as I tilt my head to the side and slowly make my way around, it becomes amply clear that this SUV has a style of its own.
The swooping roofline towards the blackened C-pillar whispers of a coupe-ish appeal hitherto unseen in any Q product.
The large but stylishly rounded wheel arches also compliment the side profile although these are not unique to this particular product. The windows are decently sized and there's adequate ground clearance to make the Q2 stand relatively tall, something also helped by those catch 17-inch alloy wheels.
The rear profile is clean and simple, complimented by a striking set of LED tail lights and, thankfully, there's hardly any use of chrome here or anywhere else on the body of the Q2 which means this vehicle isn't trying too hard to look good. It just does.
The Q2 would appear and appeal to different eyes and sensibilities in different ways. If someone swears by the machismo of SUVs in the Q lineup from Audi, this vehicle here would appear as a clear deviation from the design path taken. It surely has the optics of being an SUV but is also somewhat of a rebel in the sense that it breaks free from the mould that its siblings are cast in. It is cute and yet bold. It is compact and yet stylish. It is an SUV and yet a crossover, at least visually.
A Tale of Two Cabins
Step inside the Q2 and the hits and misses are both startlingly evident. In fact, this here is one of the few products where I found the positives glistening and drawbacks glaring almost as soon as I stepped inside.
Let's begin with the latter.
As soon as I stepped inside the Q2 when it was home delivered for the day at 6.30 am, my hand went on the side of the driver seat to adjust it. Where's it? Why can't I find it? Am I still sleeping? I must be sleeping - the rush of thoughts on a slightly nippy October morning were about how to push the driver seat back. And yet, it quickly dawned under the dawn sky that the Q2 does not have powered seats. Dabbing under, I found the lever and - lo and behold - pulled the seat to my preferred driving position.
Some music? Sure. My phone connected almost instantly to the main infotainment unit but my fingers touched upon an inanimate screen, poked and poked again, only for the still perhaps sleepy mind to realize that this wasn't a touchscreen. Oh well.
And yet there was and is no denying that the quality of the cabin is typically Audi and typically premium. The soft-touch plastics on the dash, the leather-wrapped flat-bottomed steering, the nicely-appointed center console between the two front seats - all said that this here is an Audi.
And then there is the nice touch of adding a design deviation in the section just between the glovebox and the dashboard - almost carbon-fiber like - which has the Quattro badge and a subtle yet sophisticated red ambient light making its way all around the center console.
The seats are in leather in this S-Line variant of the Q2 and the front two do offer plenty of support for the back and are decently cushioned as well. Are they ventilated though? No. Massage? No.
Move back to the passenger seats to find the same level of cushioning. Space, however, is at a premium and quite clearly at that. When I am driving, my seat is always pushed back significantly which means when I moved from behind the steering to behind the driving seat, there was just about adequate space for my feet - for reference, I am 5 feet 8 inches 'short'. Leg space, knee room and head room are just that - adequate, although there is decent under-thigh support.
The biggest bummer here for me though was how upright the seats are. And no they don't recline. This could be a concern for the rear passengers on long highway rides. The window line is also a tad too high.
On a positive note though, there is a center arm-rest with cup-holders, plenty of storage space, charging points for the smartphones and the fit and finish is once again top-notch. There is a whole lot of boot space available in the Q2 and the rear-seats do go down easily in a 60:40 ratio to open up even more luggage space.
Delivering on the Drive
Before you proceed here, allow me to strongly recommend taking a test drive of the Audi Q2.
Still here? Thanks.
The reason for brazenly asking you to go ahead and take a test drive of this vehicle is to allow you to actually get a mouth-watering taste of how it performs, its characteristics while on the move and its general demeanour on the road - and it is nearly perfect.
Now I don't want to compare the Q2's drive to that of its elder siblings and - obviously - not the RS Q8 because well, that would be both blasphemous and quite ridiculous. Instead, take the Q2 as a standalone SUV and it truly shines in terms of how it moves.
Eager, planted and reassuring - these three adjectives may often be antonyms of one another but seamlessly blend together to sit like a crown when the Q2 is set into motion. The 2.0-litre TFSI petrol engine produces 184 bhp of power and has peak torque of 320 Nm for the taking. Ably helped by a favourable power-to-weight ratio, the Q2 pulls fast, pulls clean. And I am not even referring to the Dynamic mode.
With multiple drive modes available, the Q2 does offer something unique with each and yet retains its chirpy drive flavour. For instance, the steering is light enough and mighty flexible in Comfort mode for the vehicle to weave in and out of traffic - also made possible by its comparatively small dimensions. Slide it into Dynamic mode and there is a genuine weight heft to the steering which helps with a reassuring feel at triple digit speeds. Floor the accelerator and the Q2 gets a move on with a dogged determination to impress. Want to slow things down again? The brakes have enough bite to calm this pocket bullet down.
And while there is very noticeable road noise from the tyres at high speeds, the Q2 is agile enough on quick turns and planted enough on straight runs. This is also made possible by a dual-clutch gearbox which keeps the numbers ticking without a tatter, only struggling ever-so-slightly when occasionally lowering the shifts.
The suspension set up is worked in a way that allows the Audi to mask over speed breakers with poise even if it can get a little stiff for the passengers at the rear when the car goes over larger-than-usual craters at low to moderate speeds.
Now don't go on to expect Q2 to take part and out-perform in a drag race. Audi claims it can hit 100 kmph in 6.5 seconds and it is easy to see - and feel - that it is a claim with some weight. So while the Q2 does manage to make the drive a brisk affair when you want it to be, it is its overall character in motion that truly shines brightest.
It is about time the Indian market has a Q2. It has, quite frankly, been quite a wait.
The Audi Q2 is an attractive proposition for its stand-apart looks, practical dimensions, superb drive dynamics and the fact that it is coming from a brand that many aspire to own. For those looking to break into the luxury SUV segment, the Q2 makes a solid case. Yes, its cabin space and feature list leaves a lot to be desired and takes some of the gleam away but it still has the right ingredients to be a potential star in not just the Q family but in its segment as well.
Audi is bringing in the Q2 via the CBU route and this means it could be priced at somewhere between ₹35 lakh and ₹40 lakh (ex-showroom). The bookings are currently open and the official India launch is on October 16.