You probably know about the Audi Q7, maybe you even drive one. Designed to offer Americans a cultured way to get around in a four-wheel-drive SUV, the big Audi ticks all the boxes, including the one that still defines an enduring attitude to cars in America: biggest is best.
Of course, the Q7 is totally incompatible with most British roads, but that doesn’t stop it being seen as a viable alternative to a proper Range Rover. So you’ll see more Q7s parked on pavements in Harpenden, Hampstead and Horsham than you will trolling up and down the motorways, where they really excel.
But many will be left on driveways until dad takes the boys to Saturday football. The rest of the time it’s honestly easier to use something smaller. Usually something still posh, of course, maybe an Audi A1 or a Mini, even a Golf GTI. But now there’s a new choice, the Audi Q2.
The German manufacturer is irritatingly good at homing in on a niche and then blasting the opposition into the bushes. The Q2 falls into Audi’s ‘Q’ family, meaning it looks like a 4x4, although these days that doesn’t necessarily mean real off-road ability. It’s compact, smaller than the feminine looking Q3, yet with a chunkier and more purposeful design. It looks right.
People notice the Q2. It’s heavily sculpted, with a low roofline and contrasting paint on the rear pillars. It looks different, taller than the average small car, but still gainly.
All this should put it up against the Nissan Juke, although Audi will immediately point out that the Juke isn’t ‘premium’ – which is fair comment. It’s the detailing inside that sets the Q2 apart, from the reassuringly solid gearlever, to the precision of the circular air vents, to the window controls that feel so precisely engineered. Better than you’d get in a Kia? Probably not, just nicer.
You can spec a Q2 to the level of a £60k Audi A8, if you want. All the desirable big Audi features are on the list, like the ‘Virtual Cockpit’ with Google Earth mapping, heads-up display, anti-crash technology, the list goes on. The latest levels of mobile phone linking are available, with the Spotify app projected onto the dashboard screen.
A £20k budget gets you into a Q2 with a 1.0-litre engine. It’s actually okay, turbocharging (as on all Q2s) giving it zest when you wouldn’t expect it. But popular versions will start at around £25,000, bringing the 1.4-litre petrol automatic with 150hp and genuinely lively performance. There are bigger versions and diesels, but this 1.4 engine suits the Q2 very well.
Driving around sub-Alpine roads near Zurich, the little Audi lives up to the go-kart handling claimed in the marketing material. It tracks around corners with accuracy, speed and much entertainment – just like a good hot hatchback. Audi has got the suspension spot-on.
This makes the Q2 comfortable inside, at least for four adults. There are no cheap seats here, and even though legroom in the rear is tight, this is a more practical car than the Audi A1. And more customisable, too. Even a few extra touches, like the red or yellow aluminium trim panels, make a major statement. Whether it is one you later regret is perhaps a moot point.
Audi has done it again. The brilliant Q2 is pricey, but still represents decent value to my mind. I reckon dealers will be fighting off customers. Get your order in now. You won’t lose any money if you decide to sell it soon afterwards. It’s that good.
Review by motoringresearch.com