I imagine that somewhere in the offices of Ingolstadt several years ago, Audi’s executives were busy poring over reams of market research on millennials. Customisability must have been one of the most prominent factors, because the first-ever Audi Q2 – priced to be an accessible point of entry into the brand’s Q range – comes with a plethora of options for personalisation. In Singapore, there are two engine choices, three trim lines, five rim designs, and 12 paint finishes – just to name a few aspects of the customisation available.
If you read my review of the BMW X2 last year, you would know I’ve warmed up to the crossover segment, thanks largely to my time in the Beemer. Driven around cities, well-built crossovers offer a nice balance of hatchback-like agility and the elevated visibility often reserved for sport utility vehicles (SUVs), without as much of the intimidating heft and drawbacks on fuel efficiency.
One of the most striking design features on the Audi Q2 is its C-pillar blade. Car geeks will recall a similar aesthetic on the motorsport-inspired R8
Visually, the Audi Q2 stands apart from other models bearing the famous four rings. There are a lot of polygonal shapes, distinct lines, and sharp body panel creases. The shoulder line runs from the headlights to the fenders and splits below the windows into two contours – one above the other – framing a concave surface with six corners. It may seem a little Lego-like from afar, but there’s more coherence in the exterior’s design when you take the time to look at it in person.
In this 1.4 TFSI COD (that’s Audi’s acronym for Cylinder On Demand, but more on that later) guise, the bumpers, air inlets, wheel arches, and side skirts come in contrasting Manhattan grey. The 17-inch ‘5-V-spoke’ design alloy wheels pictured here are an upgrade over the standard 16-inch alloys; this $2,896 option strikes a nice balance between looks and road-going comfort. There are 18-inch options available too, but those will set you back by more than ten grand.
The Q2 lives up to Audi’s reputation of making some of the best car interiors around. The overall aesthetic is modern with tasteful restraint – you can sense a lot of care was poured into the design and assembly of the cabin. The multifunction leather steering wheel is a pleasure to hold, and I particularly like the three-spoke design; the spaces between the panels are uniform; and the S tronic gear lever felt like a natural fit for my palm. The typeface on the analogue dials (Audi’s virtual cockpit is an optional extra) provides excellent legibility and a nod to the brand’s motor racing heritage. It’s a very nice place to be in.
The refinement carries through to the drivetrain. There is practically no judder when you start the engine and shift changes from the seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch gearbox are seamless. And while this 1.4 litre unit churns out a decent 150 hp, a peak torque figure of 250 Nm is available between 1,500 and 3,500 rpm, enough to effortlessly overtake road hoggers.
When things are less hectic on the road, the 1.4 TFSI engine uses its cylinder deactivation system to shut down two of its four cylinders to increase fuel efficiency. It’s impossible to tell when the system is in operation because the transition between four- and two-cylinder modes is seamless – I was cruising at 90 km/h on the highway and only realised the car was in two-cylinder operation when I glanced at the instrument panel. This is an example of the best implementations of technology, where the innovations can work unobtrusively without any change in user behaviour.
The Q2’s suspension is also set up to offer the best of both worlds. It’s forgiving enough to moderate all but the most uneven surfaces on Singapore’s roads, yet firm enough to take on fast turns without too much body roll. Although not very communicative, the progressive steering – which is standard in the Audi Q2 – is designed so that the steering ratio becomes increasingly direct when turning, depending on your speed. This gives the Q2 better agility and precision when you’re in the mood for a sporty drive.
The standard leather seats are comfortable on long drives, so you’re less likely to feel fatigued even after getting out of a traffic jam. The average Singaporean won’t find the Q2 wanting for head room despite the sloping roofline in the rear, while leg room in the back is also ample. Behind the tailgate, 405 litres of luggage capacity were up to the task of a gift-bearing mother-in-law visiting from out of town for two weeks.
Nothing is perfect, however. The location of the electronic parking brake switch seems to be better suited for left-hand drive configurations. Some parts of the door panels are made of hard plastic, but you wouldn’t notice unless you set out to look for them. The buttons all produce an audible click that’s claimed to be “an acoustic expression of Audi perfection”, but the negligible key travel reminded me of Apple’s much-criticised butterfly keyboard introduced in 2015.
The absence of a USB port in the standard specification is almost unacceptable, although you have the option to add it when ordering your car at the dealer; you can otherwise purchase a USB charger to plug into the 12V socket. The wide range of options can also cause choice paralysis when deciding on the car, although it may just be the cynic in me talking.
Then there are the looks, because the Q2 is unlike the larger and more established Q3, Q5, Q7 and even Q8 siblings. It’s all lines and polygonal shapes. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing – it’s just different, almost edgy. A bit like how the X2 caused a bit of a design stir when it was introduced into BMW’s X family. But if the Q2 is to Audi what the X2 is to BMW, then I’d say Ingolstadt got it right with this new model.
Special thanks to Audi Singapore for this opportunity.