The big Germans have been known to slice their sausages in different sizes to appeal to different customers. Audi’s approach could be clearly seen on their A series sedans, which were all different sizes, same silhouette. But, their hugely successful Q range of SUVs has seen big shifts lately with the distinctive Q8 and now, the Q2.
While not all-new, the pre-facelift version we get in India is still cheeky enough to stand out from the crowd with its bold, single-frame grille, the wedge-shaped headlights with typical Audi detailing in the LED elements and a chiselled shoulder line that is more unique than a Schnitzel on a Haldirams menu. It’s a head-turner despite its compact dimensions and Audi has done well to give it a playful, urban and youthful look with the blacked-out C-pillar that adds a hint of R8-inspired sportiness. Sitting at the bottom of the Audi SUV pile, the Q2 gives out no indication of its entry-level credentials at all. This is a properly premium looking crossover/compact SUV any way you look at it, but just wish that it came with a better alloy wheel design.
Tech you need, tech you don’t
Books could be written on Audi’s obsession with interior design and quality and again, while the Q2 might feel like a generation older on the inside compared to its newer siblings, it welcomes you with a sense of purpose. The driving position, the seats, quality of the touchpoints...all feels perfect, plush and solid. It’s a cabin that really reminds you of what the basics are and mostly, that’s really all you need. Not to say that it’s stingy on equipment. Our test mule was the top of the line Technology variant that comes with the now familiar 12in Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster that still wows, MMI Navigation Plus, parking sensors with rear-view camera, wireless phone charging that can accommodate up to an iPhone 12 Pro Max, USB-C ports for the rear passengers and USB-A for the front, CarPlay, ambient light inlays in cool textured trim panels and a mildly panoramic sunroof. Of course, as expected, the Bang & Olufsen sound system of the more expensive Audi’s gets a miss here but the 10-speaker, 180W stock system sounds alright to be fair. It doesn’t warrant the need for an upgrade and it can play pretty loud too. There are some sore points like the MMI screen that doesn’t retract into the dashboard or the manual adjustment for the front seats, which would be fine if not for the Q2’s inflated price tag.
Four times the fun
For those into the nuts and bolts over gadgets and gizmos though, the Q2 is all good news. It comes standard with Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system and gets the new 2.0L TFSI engine that is one of the wonders of the modern small engine world. Boasting a healthy 190bhp of power and 320Nm of torque, in a car this size and weight, it’s close to a booster jet backpack. The typical light steering found in most everyday Audis has been given a makeover with Progressive Steering as an option that weighs up nicely with speed and the paddle shifters really come in handy to harness the 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Drive modes can alter throttle and gear shift parameters between comfort, dynamic, auto and individual and if you really need to get somewhere in a hurry, Sport mode with transmission in manual mode puts a smile on your face as quickly as its 0-100 km/hr time! The compact cabin has the perfect driving position, slightly high set for a great view outside and yet snug and sporty. Turbo lag is well masked but the Stronic gearbox does get jerky in low-speed downshifts. The moment you get past 2000rpm and on an open stretch though, this little gem of an engine astounds with its mid-band power and eagerness to rev. Tucking it in and out of traffic gaps becomes fun and gives you a whack of power just when you need it. Thankfully the brakes have enough bite to slow things down with equal enthusiasm and the compact dimensions make it a Mini on stilts, it is pointy and darty. The suspension though is stiff and there is constant lateral movement which could tire you out over perpetually potholed roads. Of course, the flipside is great body control and minimal body roll. I do wish the engine had a better sounding exhaust note to go with that zingy performance. You might not take it off-road ever, but the grip from the Quattro AWD system allows you to use all the power in the city too, finding corners and pushing it harder.
Infotainment wise, sure the system looks a bit dated now compared to the new dual-MMI screens of most modern Audis but to be honest, all the essentials are there, if in a less fancy clothing. The touchpad/rotary dial works well to get around the system or type out navigation keywords and the hotkeys for direct access work like a charm too. The AC controls are easy to operate via knurled knobs, which I actually prefer and it also sports a volume control knob instead of twiddly buttons. You can’t change the colour of the ambient lighting and you might miss an air purifier that you get in cars costing less than ₹15 lacs these days but hey, this is still a CBU and its trump card is clearly its drivetrain.
If you’re looking for a fun driver's car under 50lacs, the Q2 fits the bill without a doubt. It does come with caveats though. Short on creature comforts and a slightly dated design inside and out might keep some away. But, it is as much fun as a Mini Cooper or a BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe and a lot more practical with its SUV-ish stance and ground clearance and if you’re looking for an argument, that’s the best you’ll find. Audi definitely won’t be expecting to sell the Q2 by the truckloads for its asking price, but if you value great engineering over well...value, the Q2 is as good as a small Audi gets.