Audi Q2, Audi’s crosses over to the small side

Zurich, where we drove the Audi Q2 may be neutral territory, but instead my mind was in Moscow, at least thematically. For a long time now, the crossover has been the Russian Doll of vehicle segments— with a Q7, Q5, Q3, and now the upcoming Q2; Audi has mastered a Putin-approved expansion.

Still, this move to scale their SUV/crossover line is predicated on success, which is no doubt how Audi came to ask: What do you do when you’ve sold 400,000 crossovers since the model’s introduction in 2011, but the merciless advance of time and design aesthetic require a make over? Keep it simple— make a car that is at once more appealing but clearly capitalizing on the successful design of the outgoing model.

Such is the tale of the Audi Q2, which has reached its middle years by industry standards, and gets a revise because, well, that’s just how this game works. But why worry about, er, why this is happening when it’s clearly a good thing. The model gets engine updates for added more power and improved efficiency, the headlights and taillights are more LED bedazzle than ever, and a ‘3D effect' frame gives the front grille a but more premium appeal.

The top tier engine is a 2-litre TFSI petrol producing 190bhp while employing cylinder deactivation to beat the ever-narrowing restrictions on emissions and consumption. Under cruising conditions, two of the four cylinders sit out as long as possible, waiting at standby for more throttle demand. This tech has appeared elsewhere in the broad family of VW group offerings, and works a treat. 1.0L and 1.4L powerplants are also on offer.

Whatever power plant, we highly recommended the optional seven-speed paddleshift 'S tronic' gearbox, which greatly adds to the joy of driving this little crossover. With the S tronic, the car’s punchy mid range torque is always on tap, allowing you to stay out of the upper register (where this and all turbos fear to tread).

While we enjoyed the S tronic and quattro iterations, it’s also worth pointing out that the six-speed manual (90% of GCC drivers just stopped listening) is very good and the front wheel drive Q2 is firmly planted, forcing you to really over reach before the quattro version differentiates itself.

Audi worked on the Q2’s suspension with an eye towards improving both handling, low body roll and excellent overall comfort. With Drive Select, the driver can adjust the optional active dampers to taste— a particular favourite feature here at MAQINA. Wheels are available in 16 to 19 inch variations in diameter, and we say the bigger the better.

Inside the Q2 is inviting and solid, it has that signature Audi styling, but isn't quite as aesthetically compelling as some of the newer models— I suppose that’s no shock, really— this is a refresh, not a ground up redesign. The MMI multimedia system, for instance, has its controls on the dash, which we found a tad more distracting and less ergonomic than the transmission tunnel setup offered in some of the larger Audis.

The crossover offers decent enough space at all five seating positions, but not everyone will love the backseat depending on how long their legs are. Behind the tailgate is a large luggage compartment with lots of space for sports equipment or plenty of shopping items. A power opening and closing tailgate is available as an option. A practical feature is a through-loading facility in the rear bench seat that makes it easy to transport skis or shelving.

All in all, the Q2 doesn’t fit the typical GCC SUV mold, e.g. that bigger is always better. But then, the times they are a changin’ and if you’re looking for a smaller crossover that can hold it’s head high, perhaps the Q2 is worth a look.

2.0-litre TFSI, 7-speed Auto, 190bhp, 0-100kph in 8.9 secs, 200kph estimated, AED TBD

By: Sidharth Saigal

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