Review: 2017 Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI

Review: 2017 Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI
 

Most Audis look the same these days. The new R8 looks like the old R8. The old A4 looks like the new A4. In fact, when the latter was parked next to its dour predecessor it was kind of like playing an expensive game of Spot the Difference. And very few players, let me tell you, scored full marks.

Sameness seems to run deep at Audi. Except maybe not with the new Q2. Yet another compact crossover smashing yet another nail into the coffin of the hatchback/sedan, the Q2 is probably the most adventurous car to wear the four-ringed badge in a very long time: those hexagonal facets beneath the side windows, the contrasting C-pillars, a face that immediately distinguishes itself from all the other visages in the sales catalogue.

It seems Audi’s new head of design, Marc Lichte, might well be pulling the brand out of the deep ditch of sales-rep conservatism in which it hasbeen stuck. And it’s about time.

So, yeah, the Q2 stands out. It attracts attention and sparks conversation with parking-lot strangers. “Wow, it sure looks beautiful,” they exclaim, slowly circling it like a rogue wolf sizing up exotic prey. “What’s it like to drive?” And the short answer is “Good”.

The Q2 goes about its business like an A3 Sportback on stilts. While the raised ride height gives you better confidence in traffic, the familiar MQB underpinnings help deliver pleasantly crisp driving dynamics. Maybe not quite as sporty as the Mazda CX-3 but definitely tight enough to keep most keen drivers happy.

It rides pretty well too. Even fitted with optional 18-inch alloys, my test unit was not too hard and not too soft. Just right in the Goldilocks sense? Provided the asphalt wasn’t radically uneven or undulating then I’d have to say yes.

While the six-speed manual gearbox was pointless — I can’t see why you would want anything other than the S-Tronic in a machine like this — the surprisingly thirsty 1.4 turbocharged engine offered more than enough pull.

And, like all Audi products, the cabin refinement was top-notch. The build quality, the fit and finish of all the switchgear, and the way materials all blend together are second to none.

Space? Although the Q2 looks like an SUV, don’t expect SUV levels of room inside. The boot might be slightly bigger than the one doing duty in the A3 Sportback but with the rear seats folded flat there’s actually less cargo-carrying capacity on tap — 1050 litres versus 1220 litres. Hmm, deceptive, isn’t it?

What also proved misleading is the perceived sense of luxury — particularly in the amenities department. My test car was fitted with all manner of gadgets and gizmos that made it especially nice to spend time in. Satellite navigation, LED headlights, Audi Drive Select, artificial leather seats, adaptive cruise control, a beefy sound system and virtual cockpit instrument cluster: all the stuff I liked and wanted, and would no doubt put into the Q2 I would theoretically purchase, was an optional extra.

And when you add all these things to the steep base price (R511 000), you’re suddenly staring down a R120 900 premium: a premium that rockets the Q2 into a ridiculous pricing bracket. I mean, mine was nearly R650k!

Perhaps there was a mistake? Perhaps I was missing something here? Alas. The more I scrutinised the price list and the more I added tempting variables into the final mix — even on the entry-level 1.0TFSI model — the more I struggled to justify Q2 ownership.

Don’t get me wrong: this is a fine car and architecturally it certainly makes a bold statement, particularly about Audi’s design direction going forward. But through my eyes it’s simply not worth it. An A3 Sportback will do everything it can for less, while the more practical Q3 will out-trump it for not much extra. Q2. Pretty. Pointless. – Thomas Falkiner

Fast Facts: Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI

Engine: 1395cc four-cylinder turbo
Power: 110kW at 5000rpm
Torque: 250Nm from 1500 to 3500rpm
Transmission: six-speed manual
0-100km/h: 8.5-seconds (claimed)
Top speed: 212km/h (claimed)
Fuel: 9.3l/100km (achieved)
CO2: 128g/km (claimed)
Price: From R511 000