Two minutes into driving the 2021 Audi Q2 for the first time, I watched a man in a bakkie miss his green light because he was too busy staring at the Apple Green crossover. It set expectations for the reaction I should expect to Audi’s compact urban cruiser and, though the price tag maybe controversial, one thing became abundantly clear: the appetite for a stylish, competent compact SUV that’s good at being, well, a compact SUV is quite strong.
The Audi Q2 line-up kicks off at R519,900 for the 35 TFSI Launch Edition trim, though our particular Apple Green-coloured launch drive model was the 2021 Audi Q2 35 TFSI Advanced (R567,500) with Black Styling Package (R21,200) which throws in a single frame in black; front and rear bumper trims in black; exterior mirrors in black; side blade in black; 19”10-spoke Y style wheels (can you guess it?) yes, black; sports suspension. S Line trim starts at R581,500.
Inside, it feels Audi but elevated. There is some familiar switchgear, yes, but it all looks and feels cohesive. No squeaks or cheap-feeling plastics.
The whole interior feels spacious and solid like it could hold up to being used as a crossover for a young family. In the boot, there are 405 litres to play with,expanding to 1050-litres with the rear seats folded. As an optional extra, Audi will deliver the storage and luggage compartment with a tailgate that opens and closes with the simple push of a button.
Dominating the dashboard, of course, is the big touchscreen display. It is cantilevered out so that it looks like it’s floating, a high-resolution panel that looks great and feels very responsive. Fortunately, there are a few physical controls still, not least the volume knob fixed to the lower centre section of the console. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are present too, so you can flip between your smartphone’s interface and other vehicle menus. A Qi wireless charging pad underneath the armrest is just big enough to fit an iPhone 12 ProMax, and there are several USB ports – both Type-A and Type-C – front and rear.
The 1.4 TFSI that powers the Q2 35 TFSI has an output of 110 kW and produces 250 Nm of torque. The sprint from 0-100 km/h takes 8.8 seconds; reaching its peak at 213 km/h. To transfer power to the road, it utilises an 8-speed Tiptronic gearbox.
Once on the road, the Q2 is a whole lot of fun, but no slouch either. The default drive mode will get you through aimless cruising in town, but when it’s time to overtake, best you keep your hand close to the lever to switch over to Sport.
As is usually the case with city cars, that first stab of the accelerator is enough to put a smile on your face. All that instant torque leaves the Q2 feeling more than perky: even if you’re not burying the right pedal, the Q2 feels eager and belies the not-insignificant curb weight.
The luxury compact SUV market is huge right now, and you are spoiled for choice if you have R400 – R600K to spend and a desire for a roomy interior and some badge prestige, it might even pay dividends to look beyond the usual German options. Consumers are, quite simply, spoilt for choice.
That’s good news for drivers, but not so great for Audi. The Q2 still does some things very well: it’s a smooth and comfortable ride, with a whisper-quiet cabin, and is capable and competent. All the same, it demands some compromises that rivals do not, and that is a fatal flaw in a category so fiercely competitive as this one – even if you did sort of invent it.
Words: Papi Mabele