There comes a point in every road tester’s career where they get all philosophical about the car they’re testing. You know, it’s the kind of questions that linger in the back of one’s mind that echoes notions like “what’s the point”?
When I say every road tester, I really mean myself – in case that wasn’t too obvious. I’ve had my hands on the Audi Q2 35TFSI S line for five days now and I’m still scratching my head as to what it represents in the segment in which it’s positioned.
A segment I may add that’s quite competitive. If we were to just scratch the surface, it’s the Hyundai Kona 1.6T N Line, Mini Cooper Countryman and cousin VW T-Roc 2.0TSI Design that’s hoping to attract customers away from the Audi Q2 – Audi’s answer to the (at the time) growing compact premium crossover movement. At the time, it looked like a fool-proof plan to recapture market share.
Things; and by this I mean macroeconomics and by extension buying-priorities, have changed. Buyers are either buying larger, more practically apt vehicles or, well, subscribing to the buying-down trend. So, the big question: what has Audi done to the Q2 to still appeal to its core buyers?
Aesthetically speaking, the S Line with its optional Black styling pack that I had on test pretty much did the lion’s share of talking on the visual front. It is, in short, one heck of an attractive tiny SUV. Coated in what Audi calls “Apple Green” but better represents avocado, it has a good helping of black trimmings on the bumpers and mirrors with a 19” set of running shoes.
Put simply, that should appeal to some style-inclined buyers since the updates it received pretty much position it at the top of the styling pile despite its age.
Back to the matter of age… Despite some welcome interior updates and additions like the contour ambient lighting that comes in a range of 10 colours, there’s no hiding the age of the Q2’s interior architecture – especially when you’re not ticking the niceties boxes. With the exception of the Black Styling pack (R18,500) and S Line interior pack (R29,200), my tester wasn’t exactly specified to the brim with nice-to-haves.
Not that it’s a deal-breaker, not by any stretch of the imagination, but the one aspect that has been setting Audi apart from the competition didn’t feature on the Q2 I tested – the Virtual Cockpit. It’s only available with Audi’s Technology pack (R35,200) and in all honesty, without it, the Q2 felt a bit like a bare-bones approach despite all the options that were present. Analogue dials and operating software that’s as dated as the emo movement would be motivation enough for me to fork out that additional outlay; even if it means cutting down on the style elements elsewhere, perhaps that sporty wheels?
At least space is reasonably generous at least with a boot measuring 405 litres. It’s on the smaller side compared to its competitors but realistically, what can you really do with 50 more litres? It’s easy to get into the perfect seating position and when you do, the Q2 offers good all-round visibility. With a front-to-back seating test, though, space at the rear for taller occupants do feel a tad claustrophobic but hey, this is still a crossover…
The question of how it fares on the road? Well, it’s capable… you know in a sporty crossover sort of way. In none of the different driving modes are there stages of lag that’s worth writing home about (hence I’m barely mentioning it) and gear shifting from the 7-speed S Tronic under normal driving load is nearly imperceivable. Even fully loaded the 1.4 turbo breather engine that produces 110 kW and 250 Nm of torque pulled effortlessly, even on inclines. It’s not the most powerful in its class but at no stage was I yearning for more kilowatts.
While the Q2 proved competent around the sweeping bends (again, for a crossover) thanks to its progressive steering system that influences the directness of the steering the more the tiller is turned, I wasn’t too fond of its harsh ride quality on less-than-perfect roads, especially the gravel variety!
This is in large parts thanks to the 19” wheels that form part of the styling pack which I'd personally leave unchecked. What’s the point if a crossover can’t confidently traverse rugged(ish) terrain?
At face value, the Audi Q2 35TFSI S line looks like quite the bargain buy at R581,500. Add to that, however, nearly R100,000 worth of options to really spruce up the small SUV and you’re looking at a hefty price for what is still a crossover at its core with reduced gravel-travel abilities.
At least you’ll recoup some of that money on the economy front since our stint with the Q2 35 S Line returned consumption figures of the low-sevens per 100 km in mixed driving environments.
So, what does the Audi Q2 with its long naming extension represent? Well, it’s all about style and as I’ve found, scratching that itch to just get in and go – if you steer clear of anything that even looks like a gravel road.
With its facelift and all the updates that came with it, I’m of the opinion that the Q2 is now finally what it should have been when it first launched in the Republic of SA, as long as you check the right boxes.
Words: Deon van der Walt
Pictures: Audi SA