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Tested: Is Audi's Q2 worth the premium?

Road tests

Johannesburg - It wouldn't take a brain surgeon to figure out where Audi’s new Q2 fits into the range. The brand’s handy alphanumeric naming system quite obviously gives away that this car slots in under the humongous Q7, mid-size Q5 and compact Q3 as a pint-sized entry point for customers to get into the brand’s premium SUV family.

The premium word is key here, because even if this is the cheapest way to get a raised-up four ringer in your driveway, it’s certainly not cheap by current compact SUV standards. Similar sized crossovers from other less premium (that’s a nice way of saying non-German) brands would be much easier on the wallet, but that’s no news. Same goes for pretty much any offering in any segment from the three big Teutons. Premium anything will always cost you.

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It’s also not that much smaller (or cheaper) than the ageing Q3, so there’s a bit of overcrowding happening at the lower end of Audi’s SUV spectrum. When the Q3 is replaced in 2019 it’ll most definitely grow in size and price. What the Q2 does offer over the Q3 is some seriously funkadelic styling (by Audi standards anyway) and a much more up-to-date interior, brimming with modern tech though most of the cool stuff is only unlocked when ticking the options list.

I don’t really want to harp on about expensive options because this is the norm with premium German products today, but this so-called entry-level Audi can get quite pricey when loaded up with extras. A base 1-litre Q2 with nothing in it comes in at a relatively reasonable R434 500, but costs start creeping up with more powerful models such as the 1.4 Sport auto on test here at R529 500. Add to that options like LED lights, sunroof, imitation leather, navigation, Virtual Cockpit, parking sensors and a few others, and things start getting crazy ... R695 550 crazy in the case of our test car. Ouch.

Sure, it’s unlikely many Q2s will be specced to such illogical levels, where pricing surpasses next-model-up territory and then some. My point is that unless it’s a lower end derivative with few options, the Q2 misses its target as the easily accessible entry point it’s intended to be.

Pricing aside, it’s a nice vehicle. Just like all current Audis its interior is immaculate in presentation and build quality is solid as a rock. Dashboard layout and instrumentation (Virtual Cockpit digital cluster included) is all straight from Audi’s form book so if you’re familiar with the workings of a latest A3 or A4, the Q2’s cabin will be a familiar place.

But wait, isn’t this really just an A3 Sportback on stilts? Yes, it kind of is. Both cars ride on the same MQB platform and many parts including engines and drivetrains are shared between the two. The Q2’s a bit longer and the boot’s a tad bigger, but to the eye the five-door A3 and Q2 are pretty much identical in size both inside and out.

That is, besides obvious ride height differences. Audi quotes 149mm of ground clearance, and while that’s still fairly low in this class (compact SUVs generally sit between 180 and 210mm off the ground), it’ll definitely be less prone to scraping its belly on speedhumps than its hatchback sibling. I say speedhumps because the front-wheel drive Q2 is a city dweller at heart.

It’ll handle a dirt road to some degree, but an offroader it’s not.

Also tagged onto our car’s lengthy options list was a set of 19” mags (R23 000), and though they look fantastic, they absolutely decimate the Q2’s ride quality. I’m normally okay with sacrificing a bit of bump absorption for cool looks, but rubber band profile tyres don’t suit the Q2 at all. I’d advise sticking to the 1.4 Sport’s standard 17-inchers instead. Your rump will thank you for it.

We know this 1.4 petrol turbo engine well from various other Audi vehicles, and it performs pretty much the same here as in all others. It’s not a very charismatic motor, and it won’t send your heart racing with either its exhaust note or acceleration, but it gets the job done in a very unobtrusive, inconspicuous way. Audi’s seven-speed S tronic (aka DSG) autobox is a smooth-shifting pearl though, and at R18 500 is a no brainer over the standard six-speed manual.

VERDICT

It’s no secret that SUVs are most carmakers’ best moneyspinners today and almost all brands are scrambling to build as many size offerings as possible. The Q2 takes up position as Audi’s smallest and most affordable option, but in upper 1.4 turbopetrol and 2.0 turbodiesel guises affordability is questionable. Consider the 1-litre three-cylinder and use some savings on niceties like Virtual Cockpit and the brilliant S tronic gearbox. Also, avoid the harsh riding big wheel options.

FACTS: Audi Q2 1.4T Sport 

Engine: 1.4-litre, 4-cylinder turbopetrol
Gearbox: 7-speed automated dual-clutch
Power: 110kW @ 5000-6000rpm
Torque: 250Nm @ 1500-3500rpm
0-100km/h (Claimed): 8.5 seconds
Top speed (Claimed): 212km/h
Price: R529 500
Warranty: 1-year/unlimited km
Maintenance plan: 5-year/100 000km

ALTERNATIVES

BMW X1 sDrive18i auto 100kW/220NmR546 284
Mercedes GLA 200 auto115kW/250NmR508 452
Mini Cooper S Countryman auto141kW/280Nm R522 806

Star Motoring

Follow me on Twitter @PoorBoyLtd

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