13 December 2021
2021 AUDI Q2 35 TFSI S TRONIC: Surprise in a small package

Honest. Characterful. Playful.

Smaller cars have featured quite regularly in this author’s life. Having learned to drive in a 1980’s Daihatsu Charade, and still regularly driving an original Perodua Kancil when staying with relatives in Malaysia, there is a certain simple, straightforward and unpretentious charm with how smaller cars go about doing their thing. And when setting eyes on the Q2 for the first time, those memories came flooding back.

At first glance, one might be inclined to think that the Audi Q2 competes with the likes of BMW’s X1 and Mercedes-Benz’s GLA. However, in the small premium crossover category, the main rival for the Q2 is the Mini Cooper Countryman.

The outside

Audi is known for a clean design aesthetic. That philosophy carries over into the Q2 with a simple, yet cohesive and rugged-looking front, and nothing here looks contrived.

Audi’s signature whale-maw grille is surrounded by a matt aluminium finish, with Audi’s shiny famous four rings standing prominently against a matt-black patterned plastic grill.
The Audi Q2 LED headlights put on a light show when unlocking and locking
The Audi Q2’s LED headlights put on a light show when unlocking and locking.
Black plastics offer an off-roady look and feel; creases and folds offer sharpness to an otherwise blunt fascia.

Round the side, one finds more rugged-looking black plastic trim surrounding the wheel arches and sideskirts, which serve as a reminder that the Audi Q2 is a crossover capable of some off-road duty.

Lower down, the aesthetically-pleasant standard-fit 17-inch rims come into view, wearing 215/55R17 Michelin Primacy 4 tyres. These are not ultra-high performance tyres, but still offer good levels of grip in both the dry and wet, progressively protesting more and gripping less the harder they’re pushed in corners.

One would assume that, with such a thick sidewall, the ride would be pretty cosseting. In reality, it was firm on the road and seemed to ride much better going down a rutted, gravel track.

The car came with fixed-rate dampers which cannot be adjusted using the Drive Select toggle. Adaptive dampers should solve the ride firmness on the road but come as part of the optional Dynamic Package Plus costing just over $5,000. A pretty penny, for sure, but have a test drive and decide for yourself whether you can live with the standard dampers.

A bright silver ‘blade’ on either side of the Q2, reminiscent of the iconic S1 Sport Quattro, plays off well against the paintwork.

While reminding this author of his first crayon set during childhood, and with only one male friend captioning the photo of the Q2 “gaudy Audi,” the interesting and unique pastel green paint colour received many positive comments from those who were shown the car over the weekend, both in real life and via WhatsApp’d pictures.

More rugged-looking black plastics finish off the chunky and well-designed rear end.

Under the hood

Audi has fitted the Q2 with a transversely-mounted 1.5-litre inline 4-cylinder turbocharged engine putting out 150hp and 250Nm of torque, delivered to the front wheels courtesy of Audi’s 7-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic gearbox.

While it may not sound like much, the power and torque outputs are healthy for the 1.3-ton weight of this crossover. Granted, the performance of this engine is not going to set anyone’s pants on fire, but it is wholly adequate to move the Audi Q2 along with some urgency, and to smartly set off from a set of traffic lights.

More importantly, the engine is frugal. This author is known around the office for being rather lead-footed, and no effort was made to drive the Q2 economically. Here’s where things stood at the end of the weekend’s test drive, with a rather significant portion being on streets and sitting at traffic lights, all of it with the engine start/stop system turned off:

All said and done, we want to know how close or far these consumption figures are from what the manufacturer states. Audi claims 5.1-litres/100km or 19.6km/l petrol consumption for the combined cycle. Given that the Q2 was driven two-thirds of the time on streets, and a third on highway, this lead-footed author managed 6.4-litres/100km or 15.7km/l on average. It may be some way off the claimed figure, but impressive nonetheless.

As usual, the obligatory “your mileage may vary” disclaimer applies here.

In the boot

Having an electric tailgate in this segment is much appreciated, which elegantly swings open to reveal a respectable 405-litres of boot space with the seats up. Dropping the rear seats is done by levers built into the seatbacks themselves, and liberates 1,050-litres of carrying capacity.

The rear luggage cover is flimsy, and while easy enough to remove and install, leads one to wonder how long it will last doing this. This cover needs to be left at home when using the full carrying capacity of the Audi Q2, so plan ahead.

The inside

Firm but sufficiently supportive manually-adjustable front seats with electrically-adjusted lumbar support
Good sized steering wheel adjustable for reach and rake, with fully digital instrument cluster

The infotainment system in the Q2 is basic, but functional. Pairing a phone and streaming music via Bluetooth was simple and straightforward. As long as Bluetooth on the phone was turned on, the infotainment picked up the connection quickly and resumed playing music where it left off once the car was turned on.

No touchscreen on the infotainment – use the rotary knob and shortcut toggles and buttons to navigate

Below the infotainment screen and central aircon vents sits a row of toggles. The Drive Select toggle affects throttle and gearbox response, switching between Efficient, Comfort, Sport and Individual. However, without adaptive dampers, this was not too useful. Hence, the Q2 was left in Comfort for the whole drive because the throttle and gearbox mapping were just nice in this mode.

Physical buttons and knobs for the dual-zone climate control system – HOORAY!

Interestingly, the Q2 came with the cost-optional Park Assist with Reverse Camera package fitted. The system works well enough – engage Park Assist; signal in the direction of the desired parking spot and drive forward until the parking spot is passed. Then simply follow the instructions on-screen, operate the gear lever, brake and throttle pedals and the car parks itself into said spot, be it perpendicular or parallel.

However, given this is a nearly $4,000 option, and also considering the relatively petite size of the Q2 and its ease of parking therefore, one would be better off plonking down a bit more for the aforementioned $5K+ Dynamic Package Plus to enjoy adaptive dampers instead.

The circular aircon vents perfectly juxtapose against a sea of angular designs in the interior of the Q2, offering it a rather pleasing and honest design aesthetic. The picture above is of the passenger-side aircon vent. See a light blue hue on the trim just below it? No, it isn’t a digital artefact.

The mood lighting glows from within and follows the pattern on the trim. This can also be found on the trim on both sides of the front centre console. Brilliant! But with a caveat – the mood-lights for the front passenger reflects off that respective side window at night, and can be a little distracting for the driver. Thankfully, the brightness can be turned down if need be, although there didn’t appear to be a way to change the mood lighting’s colour.

The gear lever is traditional, with detents for each gear position, and features a sports mode with manual gear selection. Manual gear selection was only used once during the test drive and left in D the rest of the time because the gearbox is good enough when left to its own devices.

Simple and straightforward – cupholders, USB port, Engine Start button, volume control knob
Wireless charging pad and USB ports; a 6.41-inch OnePlus 6T fits snugly

The theme of the Q2’s interior is, simply stated, simple and straightforward. No fluff, just good implementations of functions and as if appearing to say “let’s just get on with it.” As with all modern Audis, the interior feels like it is hewn from solid and tightly put together, with no creaks and rattles felt or heard during the test drive.

Rear seat legroom is, as expected for a vehicle this size, at a premium. This author at 182cm height cannot sit behind his own driving position, necessitating someone much more petite to occupy that seat. Two aircon vents feature at the back of the centre console, keeping the (hopefully occasional) rear passengers cool and ventilated.

The rear seats are also firm, and in combination with how the Q2 rides firmly on-road, led this author’s teenage cousin to use the word “hard” when describing ride-comfort over the rumbling roads of Pasir Ris Drive 3. Cue scrolling the options list for the package with adaptive dampers.

Given the sculpted seatbacks are more on the narrow side, a wider individual would likely struggle to sit back there for longer drives.

The drive

Despite its firm ride, driving the Q2 is pretty enjoyable. At a cruise, the Q2 settles down to a frugal, fuel-sipping pace and munches up the miles with ease.

The LED headlights are powerful, and lit up an unlit road with good width and distance, both on low- and high-beams. Flick the integrated foglights on and the beam pattern becomes so much wider nearer the car.

Outward visibility is good and shoulder-checks are easy and unimpeded. Rearward visibility is a little on the small side owing to the rear windscreen’s size but the reversing camera helps a lot in that respect. The Q2 is easy to drive and park.

Then came a pleasant surprise – late one Saturday night, when returning home from the Tour de Singapour Highway Edition part of the test-drive, the Q2 was chucked into a tightening radius bend leading from one expressway to another, and, despite howling tyres, handled that bend with supreme confidence, flying out of the exit with composure and causing this author to exclaim out loud “the Q2 could do that?! The front-wheel drive Q2 could do THAT?!”

It wasn’t only this author though. The driver of a modified Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 10 who was sedately going into the same bend must have been shocked to see the Q2 so far ahead and proceeded to fly up to its rear-end to have a closer look before flying past.

The Audi Q2 has character – LOTS of it. It is willing, eager and playful. The rear-end of the Q2 rotates beautifully in corners to assist the front through turns, with understeer only setting in very late.

Being simple, straightforward, unpretentious and composed for the everyday drive, yet fun and playful when called upon to do so, there is so much to like about the Q2. The experience with it was, albeit flawed, honest and wholesome.

On a personal note – on the Monday morning when it was returned, the Q2 was parked two spots away from the Q5 Sportback from a previous article. After the key had been handed over and while walking away, this author found himself stopping and looking back fondly at the Q2 once more, with quite a tinge of sadness that the weekend’s test drive had come to an end.

Fast Facts

Audi Q2 1.5 TFSI S tronic

Engine: 1,498cc in-line 4, turbocharged

Power: 150hp @ 5,000-6,000rpm

Torque: 250Nm @ 1,500-3,500rpm

Gearbox: 7-speed twin-clutch automated

Top Speed: 218km/h

0-100km/h: 8.6 seconds

VES Band: B

Price: S$193,949 with COE

Contact: Audi Singapore

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