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RPM TV Website | March 25, 2017

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New Audi Q2 is more than just a lifestyle SUV

New Audi Q2 is more than just a lifestyle SUV
Deon Schoeman

Audi’s Q2 urban crossover has finally been launched in South Africa. More compact than the popular Q3, but with a strong emphasis on lifestyle appeal, the Q2 is expected to attract younger, trend-conscious buyers looking for a vehicle that breaks the mould.

The Q2 has the raised stance and profile of a SUV, but the strong geometric lines, a pronounced C-pillar in contrasting metallic finishes, and narrow glass apertures create a look that is both distinctive and sporty. The design language is certainly more emphatic than recent Audi designs, and augurs well for future models.

The interior mirrors the functional, minimalist and smart approach adopted in the likes of the latest Q7 and A4 ranges, including the option of Audi’s Virtual Cockpit instrumentation. The cabin is more spacious than expected, with good rear legroom and a decent boot.

Tactile quality is up to Audi’s established high standards, with top-class finishes, while the Multimedia Interface (MMI) includes a controller with integrated touch pad that works well in practice.

The Q2 will initially be offered with Audi’s 1,4-litre TFSI petrol engine only, linked to either a six-speed manual or seven-speed S-tronic gearbox. The 110 kW/250 Nm mill is already a popular choice in current A3 and Q3 models, and felt more than up to the task of lugging the sleek SUV up mountain passes and hurrying it along sections of highway.

Coming in May is Audi’s 1,0-litre TFSI engine, credited with 85 kW and 200 Nm, which should still be ample in muscle terms, while promising enhanced economy. It will be joined at the same time by a 2,0-litre TDI turbodiesel with 105 kW and 350 Nm on tap. For now, there are no quattro all-wheel drive models on offer, underlining that this is very much an urban warrior.

The seven-speed S-tronic transmission is Audi’s latest, with an improved ratio stack, better low-speed responses, and a seamless shift action, making manual operation a pleasure. Talking of manuals, the six-speed manual option remains a great choice for those drivers who enjoy the engagement of swapping cogs manually.

An extended route through the fire-scarred landscapes around Slanghoek and Wellington, including the notorious Bainskloof Pass, provided ample opportunity to sample the Q2’s dynamic capabilities – and impressively so.

The little 1 400 cc unit always feels willing and eager, even when steaming up steep slopes, and turbo lag is never an issue. Perhaps more importantly, the chassis is exceptional, especially in quasi-SUV terms: taut and composed, with little in the way of lean.

As sexy as the optional 18-inch or even 19-inch wheels may be, the standard 17-inch versions are probably the best choice as far as ride quality are concerned, with the taller sidewall offering a bit of welcome extra give – especially on bumpier surfaces.

That said, expect most buyers to opt for the bigger wheels and lower profile rubber, purely because of the stronger visual appeal. And let’s face it, very few Q2s will ever be asked to negotiate anything worse than a smooth gravel road to some exclusive game reserve.

Indeed, the Q2 shouldn’t be considered a junior Q3, but rather a sporty, compact and highly aspirational crossover with real dynamic talent, a slightly taller stance, and strong lifestyle appeal.

As such, the fact that it’s priced at a premium compared to the now ageing Q3 shouldn’t come as a surprise. R434 500 will buy you the baseline one-litre model with no extras, while the mid-range 1.4 TFSI Sport Manual is priced at R511 000.

The TDI flagship retails for R565 000. Add some of the nicer bits and pieces from the options list, and the price tag will easily exceed R750 000.

Even so, expect to see plenty of Q2s on our roads – not only because it looks good and goes well, but because it heralds the next step forward for the Audi brand.

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