Usually, when I’m asked to review the smallest car in its hierarchy, the excitement shimmers down because I’ve experienced better things. But is that always true? The buzzworthy compact SUV segment has the sales charts soaring for many manufacturers with more following suit. Many to choose from, but what if brand value is of equal importance to you and understated looks is what your heart desires? Audi seems to have identified the gap here, and their answer is the Q2.
The Q2 sits in a sweet spot like none other; it has no direct rivals from other luxury brands, and someone who sees excellence in compactness will certainly appreciate its dimensions. The baby Q is based on the VW’s MQB platform and is identical to the T-Roc and the Karoq in terms of its size however the four-rings on the front and the crisp styling give it more character than those two, and not just that, the Q2 also looks significantly different from the rest of the Q family owing to its slightly different blueprint.
The front takes a departure from the bigger Qs by wearing a wide trapezoidal grille just above the sport air-vents exclusive to this S-Line trim. The lights have good detailing to them and the T-pattern DRL gives it a recognizable look. The sides feature some negatively offset wheel arches that house those smart-looking 17-inchers. Not dramatic, rather elegant. What’s sure to grab attention is the scoop on the side, neatly chiseled, giving way to a very prominent shoulder line. The blacked-out C-pillars are really wide, and while they certainly add to the SUV appeal on the outside, rear visibility from the driver’s seat is hindered a fair bit. The rear is subtle yet neat, the T-pattern LED lights match the ones on the front, and the coupe-like sloping roofline gives it a very likable design. Neat, crisp, typical Audi.
The tailgate opens to up reveal a decently sized boot which sure can house luggage for four. Some very interesting figures – with the rear seats upright, the VW T-Roc, which is cut from the same MQB platform, has 40 litres more space than the Q2 and when you fold these seats down, you get almost 250 extra litres to play with. This ultimately proves just one point. While the rear seats on the Audi Q2 are all finished in good quality materials and the comfort is adequate, it’s not really a place you’d want to spend long hours in. The lack of rear AC vents and integrated sunblinds doesn’t make it any better.
And then you’d come to the front seat with higher expectations. Why not, after all, you’ve paid the upwards of the Rs 50 lakh mark upwards for this Technology pack. So, what’s it like? The front seats are– extremely good; however, you don’t get electronic adjustments or even ventilation. What’s likable is the dashboard layout which with the rotary AC vents and design theme would surely remind you of the Audi TT.
The cabin feels opulent, of course it’s an Audi, fit and finish is impeccable, and of all the things you’re surely going to love the virtual cockpit. It’s crisp, brilliantly intuitive, customisable and very well laid out. A downer here is the 8-inch infotainment system which feels a tad bit underwhelming on this range-topping Technology trim. The screen size is not the biggest, the interface feels a generation or two old (which it is), and there’s no touch input for the screen. What you get is the MMI trackpad, and although it’s slick to operate and the resolution and crispness is all up there, it just doesn’t feel special enough. What will leave you further disappointed is the quality of materials down below. While the top surfacing is made excellent with soft-touch materials, some bits low down feel plasticky and scratchy.
So if space isn’t all that great and the features aren’t something to gloat about, what makes the Audi Q2 worth your money?
Maybe something in the way it drives. Start it up and the ultra-refined 2.0-litre TFSI comes to life with a slightly raspy exhaust note. Nice! This is the same motor that powers a few others like the Skoda Superb, the Tiguan All-Space, and the more expensive Audi A6. Compared to those big German tanks, this feels like a German Ninja that’s sharp and agile.
With just 1,430kgs to move around, the engine feels rather punchy and lively in this baby Q. So much so that the rest of the shortcomings are passed on like a blur. The acceleration is strong from standstill, and even in-gear acceleration feels joyous. The motor revs neatly all the way to the 6,200rpm redline and you’d always want to indulge in some spirited driving.
And that’s the beauty of this Q2. Other cars that pack this sort of performance are either too low to the ground or too large to be sprightly but this, this is a proper driver’s delight for the road conditions we are blessed with. What’s the term here – usable performance; and that’s what puts the Q2 back in the game. It’s okay to power it through those broken sections of roads, it absorbs potholes rather well, and you wouldn’t be left with a damaged wheel should you miss those highly visible and well-placed speed bumps. The chassis feels nice and tight, the ride feels surefooted and the steering feedback, well it’s a tad bit heavy but show it a good set of twisties and you’re in for a treat.
I like it. And then there’s the admirable S-Tronic transmission (a rebadged DSG). Silky smooth, swift responses, very intuitive and certainly, a perfect fit to that TSI motor. The unit comes with a sports mode, a manual mode, and two generously sized paddle shifters.
The benefit you have here is the Quattro all-wheel-drive system for the Q2. Doesn’t mean you can conquer some mad trails in this thing, but it has enough traction for our weather conditions all around and it channels out power to all four wheels, ensuring your spirited drive is rewarding irrespective of the surface condition.
Yes, it lacks the roominess you would expect from a car this expensive. Yes, the features list isn’t that impressive and yes, this isn’t the refreshed facelifted model that was showcased a few months back. But if Audi were to pack the Q2 with all that, why would anyone want to buy the bigger Qs?
And it’s not the kind of car you’d be looking to buy if rear-seat comfort is your priority. I’d be surprised if you did that. You’d buy the Q2 for its utterly delicious driving dynamics, its SUV stance and ride height that works brilliantly on our tarmac, its punchy rev-happy engine, its DSG transmission, it’s fit and finish, its quality, its clean and crisp design lines, and its 4WD traction that makes it all the more enjoyable. Traits of a good, well-built driver-centric vehicle. Attributes that make those open stretches of roads amusing.
I guess some might also want to buy it for the four-rings on the grille and if driving is something that calms your senses, you wouldn’t be disappointed one bit.
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol DOHC
Transmission: Seven-speed S-Tronic
Fuel tank: 55 litres
Boot space: 355 litres
Tyres: 215/55 R17
Prices: Rs 34.99 lakh onwards (ex-showroom)