Audi Q2 review: The SUV that wants to be a hatchback
On the whole, SUVs don’t have the best of images. Superficially, they’re more stylish and versatile than the bulky 4x4s that littered Britain’s roads in the mid-2000s, but they’ve still got a stuffiness about them. They’re crushingly practical, bulbous and bloated to help stuff in the kids, football kit and camping equipment. They’re family vehicles made for middle-aged parents who want more comfort than your regular estate car.
All in all, it’s a vehicle class in dire need of an injection of fun, and Audi believes it’s done just that with the Audi Q2.
Built as a hybrid between the A3 coupé and the Q3 SUV, the Audi Q2 is the smallest SUV available from the German carmaker. Audi calls it a “coupé crossover”, which sounds fancy, but all you need to know is that it looks great, combining the slick coolness associated with Audi’s “A” range of cars while packing in the practical benefits found in its “Q” line of vehicles.
Audi Q2 review: Design
As both the newest and the smallest member of the Q family, Audi has taken a chance to overhaul the series’ design DNA. It’s a move that’ll likely feed into the next set of redesigns for the Q range but, for now, the Audi Q2 is really quite the stunner – and it looks like no other Audi.
The softer curves found on the Q3, Q5 and Q7 have been sharpened, creating a blockier, meaner look. It has similar aesthetic elements to its siblings but, with its lowered, sweeping roofline, prominent wheel arches and pronounced details, it’s clear that Audi means business with the Q2. It’s a vehicle that’s aimed at an entirely different demographic to previous Q vehicles.
On the inside, the faux-leather finish to the dashboard has a tactile warmth rather than a cheap plasticness and the circular, metal-trimmed air vents bulge outward in an oddly pleasing way. I’m also very much a fan of the symmetrical and clean button placement for the car’s environmental controls.
It is, however, almost identical to the interior you’d find in the A3. This is no bad thing – it’s Audi after all, it’s always going to have a premium finish to it – but it’s interesting how the Q2 is so firmly not following the “Q” series pattern. Looking at the Q3, Q5 or Q7, their interiors seem dated in comparison. The inside of the Q2 says the same as its exterior: this is the car for people who want to have fun.
You also have the option of specifying ambient lighting, which is hidden underneath the Q2’s stitch-effect trim. This helps alleviate the problem so many Audi interiors have of feeling rather dark to sit in. It’s only a subtle effect, but enough to bathe your car interior with a soft, calming glow.
Audi Q2 review: Interior tech
Audi is known for piling in thoughtful technical additions to its cars, and that hasn’t stopped with the Audi Q2. As with the Audi A3, the Q2 comes with the option for Audi’s impressive 12.3in “Virtual Cockpit” system. You can purchase this as a standalone extra for around £1,600 but, if you add the Technology Pack, you can get it – along with the “Booster for Phone” box and Audi’s leather-trimmed flat-bottomed, three-spoke multi-function sport steering wheel – for £50 less.
If you like your tech, you’ll definitely want the extra bells and whistles that the Virtual Cockpit provides. Not only is it, in the words of my colleague, “quite gassed”, it’s the perfect way to keep your Q2 feeling fresh in the years to come.
Replacing the analogue speedometer, tachometer and the small monochrome digital driver’s information system (DIS) found in most base Audi cars, the Virtual Cockpit is a glorious sight to behold. Its huge 1,440 x 540-pixel LCD display is generally used to show the same information as its analogue counterpart, but you can also deep-dive into full-screen 3D navigation maps, and flick through your favourite DAB radio stations and your phone’s contact book without shifting your focus to the car’s main infotainment screen in the centre of the dashboard.
The default Virtual Cockpit view provides you with a large view of your speedometer and tachometer, filling the remaining screen space with whatever other function you’re currently using. Tap the View button on the steering wheel, however, and the two dials slide down into the bottom corners, freeing up space for a full-screen view of whatever application is in use. This is the only way I want to use in-car navigation again. It’s just so beautiful and practical.
Away from Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, the standard infotainment screen provided with the Q2 is rather well featured. Navigation is a touch clunky, but quickly jotting in people or place names for calls and navigation by tracing letters out on the controller knob’s touchpad is rather useful. It means you can quickly search for a destination or a contact to call without spending too much time fiddling about with the touchscreen, and you can do it without having to take your eyes off the road.
Audi Q2 review: Android Auto and Apple Car Play
The Audi Q2 has another technical trick up its sleeve with the inclusion of its “Audi Smartphone Interface” as standard. This means that you can, if you like, throw its included navigation and entertainment system out of the window and opt for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto instead.
It’s incredibly easy to get set up. For Android Auto, you plug in your Android phone and the Q2 will direct you to download the correct app via your phone . On iOS, all you need to do is enable CarPlay in your iPhone’s settings and then plug it in via USB.
In theory, having access to both of these platforms is a welcome addition. The trouble is, they don’t feel very good to use via Audi’s control system. It’s more of a tacked-on inclusion, a courtesy to those who may want to give it a go rather than the real way to use the Q2. It doesn’t help that you can’t actually put Android Auto or CarPlay into that lush Virtual Cockpit screen: they’re totally locked to the 7in display located on the car’s dashboard.
In all honesty, I found myself turning off the Android Auto function and making use of the Q2’s standard Bluetooth connectivity to pair my phone instead. Instead of clumsily navigating through menus, I had access to my phone contacts and Audi’s reasonably impressive navigation system on the Virtual Cockpit, and I could stream Spotify from my phone without much trouble. Perfect, really.
Audi Q2 review: Connectivity
Besides Bluetooth connectivity, the Audi Q2 also comes with a handful of thoughtful additions thrown in as standard.
Tucked away in the glove box is a CD player with SD card slots and two USB ports for any media you’d like to play or transfer to the Q2’s MMI. Audi has also included a 3.5mm aux port in the storage compartment underneath the driver’s armrest, along with another USB port intended for charging devices.
There’s a three-month trial of Audi’s “Connect Infotainment Services” included, with an embedded SIM fitted as standard. This addition provides a set of Audi-specific online services that deliver news and weather updates, travel itinerary updates – there’s even Twitter integration.
Finally, those who opt for the Technology Package (it’s available separately for £325) get an “Audi Phone Box” tucked away under the driver armrest. The Phone Box provides wireless charging for your Qi-enabled smartphone and also boosts your signal.
Audi Q2 review: Driving aids
When it comes to driving aids, Audi has packed the Q2 with a wide array of features both as standard and as optional extras. Included in the base price are rear parking sensors, Audi’s intelligent pre-sense with pedestrian-recognition systems, and cruise control.
You can upgrade your rear parking sensors with a rearview camera and indicators so you can safely reverse around corners or into parking bays. There’s also a parking-assist upgrade that allows your Q2 to find a suitable parking spot and then park the car safely in a bay or at the side of the road.
If the parking features aren’t enough for you, Audi also offers adaptive cruise control and active lane assist, the latter keeping you safely in lane while driving on dual carriageways and motorways at speeds of 40mph and up. The system will also gently steer you around corners when there’s a soft bend in the road.
This doesn’t mean you can let go of the wheel, nor does it mean the car is fighting you as you drive, it’s just a welcome nudge to ensure you don’t start drifting across or out of your lane.
Audi’s Side Assist and cross-traffic assist is also worth having. Essentially, it helps monitor your blind spots so you know if there’s a car in your wings that you can’t see. A small indicator on your wing mirror signifies if there’s a vehicle coming sitting in your blind spot or if you should be wary when turning across a lane (to turn right, for instance). It also works when reversing, making negotiating difficult driveways that little bit safer.
In fact, with all the technology options available on the car I reviewed, my only real gripe was a lack of indication when the Q2 had decided to halt its assistive technologies. For instance, lane assist only kicks in at 40mph, but there’s nothing to indicate this beyond a small icon on the dashboard. The Q2’s road-sign-recognition tech also failed to pick up some speed indicators, switching over to the correct speed minutes later.
Audi Q2 review: Verdict
In the Q2 Audi has succeeded in providing a hybrid of sporty coupé with the comforts of an SUV. It’s not a perfect job, though. The boot space may trump that of the A3 Sportback, but it’s not quite as big as you’d expect from an SUV and the same can be said of the rear legroom. I struggled to comfortably fit a baby seat in the back without compromising front passenger legroom.
And, while the driving position is comfortable, even for my 6ft 8in frame, it is surprising that there was absolutely no leg room behind the driver when the seat is as far back as it can go. This is clearly not intended to be a family car.
So, who is the Q2 supposed to be for? Sure, it’s absolutely packed with technology and has wonderful and edgy styling, but is there an audience of young drivers who’d fork out £22,700 for a Q2? An A3 would easily suit most young drivers with aspirations for an Audi, and that’s much cheaper than this.
It’s also not big enough to suit the needs of those wanting a mid-sized SUV. The Audi Q2 seems to be in a bit of a grey zone. It’s a beautiful car to look at and drive, filled with excellent and thoughtful technology, but it lacks the practicality that a mid- or full-sized SUV delivers. There’s definitely a market out there for a sporty, sexy mini SUV, but I’m not sure many will be all that hungry for the Q2.