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New Audi Q2 2016 review

The small SUV segment has a new entrant in the shape of the Audi Q2, and it'll be a tough act to beat

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Audi only really had to turn up to have a winner with the Q2, but the fact is it’s a great small SUV. It has something Audis (and most German cars) have lacked in the past – charm. It’s cool, safe, spacious, fun, great to be in and great to be seen in. Our only reservations are over price, especially once you add the most desirable big-car options, and the ride on bigger alloys. Stick with smaller wheels and the standard set-up and spend some cash on a few tasty options for a great small SUV.

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If there are two things guaranteed to fly out of showrooms right now, it’s supermini-sized SUVs and premium small cars. So the Audi Q2, a combination of both, has to be a sure fire winner, doesn’t it? 

At 4,190mm long, the Q2 is 217mm longer than an Audi A1 and 120mm shorter than an A3. Among SUVs, it’s a smidge longer than a Nissan Juke and a MINI Countryman, yet the best part of 200mm shorter than its big brother, the Q3. So we can safely say it qualifies as a small SUV.

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The biggest problem many small SUVs have is that they can look a bit dumpy, while the short wheelbase and high centre of gravity combination can play havoc with ride and handling. Thankfully, Audi seems to have come to terms with both. 

This is the first Audi designed under the watchful eye of design director Marc Lichte and it bodes well for future cars wearing the four rings. The Q2 is clearly an Audi, but with a new deep octagonal grille previewing the style of future Q cars, bookended by neat headlights with LED running lights.

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As this is a car aimed at younger buyers, there are some un-Audi details like the hexagonal concave panels along the car’s shoulders and the ‘floating blade’ C-pillar. It’s also a car that you can go to town with to make it your own, both inside and out. You can choose from 12 body colours with contrasting roofs, different colours for that C-pillar and body-coloured dash inserts, too. This is not your usual ultra-conservative Audi, as our Tango Red test car proves.

What is more usual is the quality Audi buyers, even of A1s, have become used to. The unusual creases in the bodywork caused engineers some angst, but they’ve produced a car that’s incredibly well made and fitting of a premium tag. 

And premium price – when the car goes on sale towards the end of this year the range is expected to start at around £20,000, while our 1.4-litre TFSI model with its S-Tronic auto box would likely set you back around £25,000. That’s a lot of money for a small car, so is it worth it?

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Our car is the more powerful of the two petrol engines with 148bhp; the other one being the excellent 114bhp three-cylinder 1.0-litre engine. A 2.0-litre petrol with 188bhp and Quattro all-wheel drive will arrive next year, as will a Quattro option on this 1.4. Alternatively there are two diesels, a 114bhp 1.6 and 148bhp 2.0-litre that you can also order four-wheel drive from launch.The 1.4 is likely to be the most popular choice and it’s a sweet engine with an eager nature. Although the Q2 is no sports car, there’s plenty of poke on offer – there is no economy, emissions or performance data yet, but the 0-62mph sprint feels like it should be in the region of 8.5secs. 

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The engine revs smoothly and is quiet when you want it to be, too. The dual-clutch, seven-speed S tronic gearbox makes for a nice partner, reacting quickly and smoothly and it can be given a sportier bent if you select the optional Audi drive select system. That’ll also firm up the (also optional) adaptive dampers and tweak the steering to make it more direct.

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The Q2 seems perfectly happy to cruise at speed and, although not the most rewarding drive, is quite fun through twistier roads, too. The steering system comes from the hot S3 so feels pretty direct and meaty, while the low driving position helps the car to feel quite sporty from behind the wheel. The multi-adjustable driving position is comfortable and the view out is good.

Our test in Cuba featured roads almost as bad as those in the UK and the Q2, in its comfiest set-up, is further proof Audi has mastered the art of making cars ride well – at long last. It’s not super soft, but has a well-judged balance of comfort and control. Be careful what you spec, though – we suspect bigger wheels and sports suspension may make things a bit too firm, especially for those sitting in the back. 

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You’ll also be surprised by how spacious it is inside. It’s easy to get in and out of and the low-set driving position means lots of headroom. A couple of adults in the back will be fine, too, even behind tall-ish people - there’s not masses of space, but for a car just over four meters in length things are pretty good. As is the boot; at 405-litres (rising to 1.050 litres) it’s bigger than an A3’s, only 15-litres off a Q3’s, but some way shy of a Countryman’s 450-litres.

Quality inside is predictably good where you look and touch most – way better than similarly-sized rivals and better than most at the price, too. Although the Q2 is likely to start at around £20,000, most buyers will be encouraged to up their monthly payment by a feast of tempting styling packs and high-tech options. Standard SE models aren’t exactly generously equipped, most buyers will pay the extra £1,550 (or monthly equivalent) for the more stylish Sport models. or another £2250 for a top-spec S-Line (although we reserve judgement on cars with 18-inch alloys and sports set-up until we’ve driven them in the 

All models get plenty of safety kit as standard, although the nicest tech is mostly on the options list which could well see the possibility of a near £40,000 Q2.

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