The Q2 looks like a small SUV, but on closer inspection, it could easily pass for a coupé or even a hatchback. It truly is a crossover vehicle from that perspective.
There has been a lot of hype surrounding Audi’s new Q2 compact crossover/sports utility vehicle (SUV), which is not always a good thing. One reason is that it can build up your expectations to an unrealistically high level, only to disappoint when you try out the vehicle.

The same can be said about movie trailers. I often watch a trailer and get very excited about seeing the movie, only to be let down afterwards. This is because the trailer often highlights the best bits of the movie and can make it seem far more action-packed than it really is.

The launch of the Audi Q2 also had trailer-like hype. The luxury German carmaker paid big bucks for a marketing blitz across social and traditional media using the “#untaggable” moniker. Audi claims the Q2 cannot be tagged as it crosses different segments from sports car to an all-road vehicle and SUV. The video advertisement alongside the launch was in-your-face dramatic, loud and highly entertaining. So, my expectations were definitely on the high side when I took the Q2 for a weekend test drive.

To put things in perspective, the Q2 is to Audi what the HR-V is to Honda and the CX-3 is to Mazda. But I feel Audi has set its sights higher with the Q2 and wants to eat into the market share of the popular BMW X1 and Mercedes- Benz GLA. When you first look at the Q2, it does look like a small SUV, especially when you park it next to its bigger brothers, the Q3, Q5 and Q7. But on closer inspection, it could also pass for a coupé or even a hatchback. It truly is a crossover vehicle from that perspective.

Surprisingly, the Q2 is only 20cm smaller than the Q. But the Q3 sits higher than its smaller sibling and has a boxier shape. The Q2 also differs in some design features, such as the front grille and headlights. You can also customise the C-pillar (that section of bodywork on the side just behind the rear seats) by choosing from a wide range of colours. My red Q2 came with silver C-pillars, which made it look funky, in a Mini sort of way. On looks alone, the Q2 stands out from the crowd.

This new model comes with a choice of two engines — the 1l and 1.4l. I drove the one with the bigger engine, which delivers 150bhp of smooth power and can get from standing start to 100kph in 8.1 seconds, mightily impressive for a SUV crossover. But then again, in all my years of driving Audis, not one has been unpowered, regardless of its engine size.

What is very smart about this car is it comes with active cylinder technology. That means two cylinders are shut off at low loads to save more fuel. Fuel consumption is very easy to monitor on the driver’s dashboard behind the steering wheel. Pick Eco mode if you really want to save petrol and keep the stop/ start engine function on.

But when you are test-driving a car, fuel consumption is less of an issue. So, I was happy to remain in Sports mode for most of the time and push the 1.4l engine a bit harder. It feels more like a sporty hatchback to drive than an SUV crossover, being punchy and responsive at all times.

The boot space is also less like an SUV. It is not cavernous, but still offers slightly more space than a VW Golf. The interior space is not quite as generous as a Q3 or Q5, but that is to be expected, given its smaller size. I did manage to get two adults in the front and four boys on their way to a football match in the back with ease, though.

For the driver, you sit low and sporty, like in a sedan. The interior is pretty funky yet functional too. The trim in my model was red, which gave it a sporty look. This is a car aimed at the entry-level Audi driver, so electronics are kept to a minimum. You can, of course, pay extra for sat nav, sunroof and other options such as Audi’s virtual cockpit. Seat adjustments are also manual rather than electric.

What I really liked about the Q2 was that it was different and stood out in the sea of homogenous cars that you see on Singapore’s roads. It is hard to pigeonhole this car, but easy to enjoy it. It may be smaller than Audi’s other SUVs, but it is also cooler, in my opinion. For those reasons, I think it will be a success on these shores. And, by the way, there are plans for a Q4, Q6 and Q8 too.

AUDI Q2 1.4 LITRE
$170,300 including COE
Engine: 1,395cc, 16V, inline 4, turbocharged
Power/torque: 150bhp/250Nm
Fuel consumption: 5.4l/100km
0 to 100kph: 8.5 seconds
Top speed: 212kph

Justin Harper is a freelance journalist with a passion for all things fast

This article appeared in Issue 799 (Oct 2) of The Edge Singapore.