Stemming from initial head scratchers like the BMW X6 to the downright bizarre and fortunately never locally available Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet, the ongoing crossover / SUV onslaught has seen manufactures race against clock to produce something unique and guaranteed to grab the attention of would-be buyers.
Creator of a new niche?
While it has been in the SUV game for well over ten years with the Q7, Q5 and more recently the Q3, Audi has now set its sights firmly in joining the so-called boutique SUV niche with the new Q2. Likely to be a segment on the verge of developing further, the recent arrival of a rather sporty looking Tango Red Q2 1.4 TFSI Sport was met with a lot of expectations and even a touch of uncertainty as you will soon find out.
Opinion splitting looks
Slotting in between the A3 and Q3 in Audi’s product line-up, the Q2 does break from the Ingolstadt marque’s often conservative styling nature by virtue of its octagonal singleframe chrome grille, angular headlights with integrated daytime running LEDs, prominent black C-pillar, sporty (optional) five-spoke grey 18-inch alloy wheels and an optional panoramic sunroof.
Compared to its love-or-hate front end, the rear facia remains the Q2’s weakest design element with an appearance not dissimilar to that of the Polo, with the dual chrome exhausts, boot spoiler and satin silver faux diffuser failing to perk matters-up much.
Tech savvy comes at a cost
Counting in the Q2’s favour though is when you get inside. Featuring the now standard issue minimalist interior with most of the functions relocated to the MMI infotainment display protruding from the dashboard, the overall look is both clean and modern with the usual rock-solid Audi build quality, and soft touch plastic upping the Q2’s premium factor further.
No longer a novelty, the optional 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit Display instrument cluster continues to rate as the highlight of the interior, with the ability to place either vehicle information or navigation between the speedometer and tachometer.
Speaking of the latter, our tester sported the upgraded MMI Navigation Plus as well as Audi Smartphone Interface which not only made connecting via Bluetooth a breeze, but also incorporates Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Wi-Fi hotspot able to connect eight devices at once.
Despite its 4 191 mm overall length, the Q2 is hampered by a lack of passenger head and legroom in the rear. Boot space is rated at 405- litres or 1 050-litres with the rear seats folded down.
A quick run-through said sheet arguably turns up the most worrying aspect of the Q2 Sport, namely the price of the niceties fitted totalling R120 940, which resulted in our tester commanding an eye-watering sticker price of R631 940
Does it have the go?
Perhaps the most impressive part of the Q2 comes up front where the 1.4 TFSI now features cylinder deactivation technology to improve fuel consumption.
Producing 110 kW/250 Nm, the engine more than stands up to the task of hauling the Q2 along, with very little lag and a subtle turbo whistle when you step on the loud pedal.
As our Q2 however had the optional (R2 780) Audi Drive Select fitted, throttle response was made quicker by selecting Dynamic mode, which also made the steering heavier and the ride a tad firmer. The former also came in for a surprise by being sharp even in normal Comfort mode with good levels of feedback, while the ride, despite the bigger wheels, felt comfortable.
Although slick and a joy to use, the fitment of the six-speed manual gearbox made for a slight oddity as the greater number of Q2 owners are likely to opt for the seven-speed S tronic ‘box instead. That side, those preferring to go it manually won't be disappointed.
What did frustrate a bit was the eventual fuel consumption which settled at 6.7-litres/100 km after some 450 km, a figure well off Audi’s claimed 5.4-litres/100 km.
While its combination of looks, slightly raised ride height and selection of customisation options might be the deal clincher, a certain amount of scepticism still exists as to whether the Audi Q2 really has what to takes to tempt buyers away from the cheaper A3 and bigger Q3.
Factor in its extensive list of options and availability of better equipped albeit less premium crossovers on the market; Mazda CX-3, Opel Mokka X to name but a few, you really cannot help but feel compelled to question it.