What is it?
The Q2 is the smallest SUV from the German luxury brand, Audi. An SUV that has the potential to be India’s most affordable premium car, the Q2 retails in other markets at the same price as the A3 hatch; this, incredibly, means it could go on sale for a price not too removed from Mercedes A-class or BMW 1-series, giving it a big advantage.
While it is based on the A3 that uses the MQB platform, the Q2 uses an all-new design language that differs substantially from the minimalist approach currently used by the four ring brand. Full of cuts, creases and heavily stylised bits, the Q2 has much edgier feel than SUVs like the Q3 and Q5. Up front, the new single-frame grille is wider and larger than those used earlier and its edges are more squared off than those of recent Audis too. The grille 'floats' above the chin in an interesting manner, and Audi has once again used metallic angles under the headlights to good effect. What sets the design apart, however, is the gouged-out shoulder line, which appears to have been sculpted with a palette knife, and the blacked out 'C' pillar in the rear, that makes the roof 'float', is quite interesting too. The rear, however, does look quite hatchback-like, and that's despite the big splitter and the nicely sculpted rear section. Under the skin the front-wheel-drive models get a non independent suspension setup and a fully independent multi-link setup is used for those with four-wheel drive or quattro.
What's it like on the inside?
The cabin of the Q2 is full of both typically Audi highlights as well as some fresh new bits. And the quality and high spec shine through immediately. The Q2 may be one of the most affordable Audis, but the cabin is so well specified and built, it could pass muster on something like a Q3 or even a Q5. To begin with, it comes with Audi's all-new virtual cockpit, and the build quality of the cabin is also right up there with some of the best SUVs from a class above. The controls work with pleasing precision, the MMI infotainment interface is simple and intuitive to use and there’s an edginess to the design that will appeal to many. The high-quality decals on the dash are an interesting bit. They light up in florescent shades and even change colour (it sounds tacky, but it isn't), and the A3/TT-like circular vents and the minimalist buttons and chromed work knobs work well too. While the top of the dash has an attractive soft-touch finish and the grey leather seats are beautifully finished, there are harder/cheaper plastics on the door pads and around the centre console. And look lower down inside the cabin, and there's even more here. Audi, however, has integrated them so smartly; they really appear to be quite inoffensive.
Also, importantly for India, there's a sufficient amount of legroom in the rear, and rear-seat passengers certainly won’t be complaining; you can fit a 6ft tall adult behind another of the same height without any problem. And, the cabin is wide and you are sat at a decent height. The Q2, however, is one of the smaller SUVs out there (it's 20cm shorter than a Q3), and this takes a toll on the feeling of space on the inside. The high window lines makes you feel quite hemmed in, while the very stylised and sporty roof does come down quite a bit towards the rear.
Bootspace, however, is quite impressive. The 405-litre boot is bigger than even some compact sedans in this class and it benefits from the option of a 40/20/40 split to add practicality.
What's it like to drive?
Very impressive to begin with. Levels of refinement are extremely high, especially at low engine speeds. The 190hp 2.0 TDi has a good amount of punch in the mid-range, and with the quick DSG gearbox taking care of gear shifts, there's plenty of accessible performance on tap. Yes, in traffic, there is a bit of hesitation and there's a bit of a spike when the boost comes in too, but once the engine starts pulling hard it's quite thrilling from behind the wheel. There's plenty of performance here for sure and though it does feel a bit strained after 4,500rpm, you can avoid this by allowing the car to shift up early. One thing's for sure, the Q2 will be quite a fun car to drive if Audi brings the motor in this spec to India.
It even steers and handles reasonably well. The suspension functions silently and the steering has a nice damped feel to it. It feels fresh, new, light and capable from behind the wheel and what's good is that Audi's variable-ratio steering works in an extremely intuitive manner. The rate at which the steering quickens is always the same and this means it’s easy to judge how much steering lock is needed to turn the car. So most of the time, all you need is a neat flick of the wheel. It also turns into corners quite crisply for a small SUV, body roll is well contained and there’s plenty of grip too. It isn't extremely sporty at the limit and feels a bit wooden at higher speeds, but for regular driving the Q2 is clearly capable enough. The steering though could have had a bit more feel; you do miss it at times. Our test car also came with Audi's Drive Select that gets adjustable dampers, throttle responses and steering weight, but these do little to make the car better to drive.
Ride, on its big wheels, is a bit revealing though. It's not fundamentally uncomfortable, far from it, and you don't get tossed around either, but over bad patches there is more than a bit of pitter-patter and the Q2 does transmit a few of the road’s imperfections into the cabin. Smaller wheels would be a good idea for India.
Should I buy one?
Given how popular luxury SUVs are in India and how important value for money is, it's fair to say that Audi has a big success on its hands. This is especially true if the company gets the pricing right and places it somewhere below the A3 sedan. The Q2 may not have the best ride and handling package around, and because the rear feels a bit cramped, it won't lend itself well to being chauffeur-driven either. Still, look at what the Q2 delivers and it clearly has the makings of a winner. The design is fresh and gets better with time, the cabin is good enough to take on more expensive cars, and the engine and gearbox are right up there with the best. Is the Audi Q2 worth waiting for? Clearly yes, but it's likely to be a long wait. The car isn't expected in India until the middle of next year. And the wait could be longer still if Audi decides to bring the long- wheelbase car from China.