» » 2016 Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI 150 S tronic review

2016 Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI 150 S tronic review

We head to Havana to find out how the new Audi Q2 2016 is shaping up ahead of its November launch.

2016 Audi Q2

Q2 what is it?

It isnt rare for a manufacturer to let us drive a new model before final sign-off. There are benefits for both parties: we get an early taste of what said car is all about and its maker gets some independent feedback while theres still time to make minor tweaks.

The deal usually involves an informal spin in a decidedly unglamorous location where the car is in its final stages of development. A proving ground, usually. A remote public road, perhaps. And thats fine by us.

So, given that the new Audi Q2 was developed in Ingolstadt and will soon be rolling off a production line very nearby, youd imagine thats where wed be headed on this occasion. Er, nope. Weve had to jet halfway across the world to Havana. Yep, the one in Cuba.

But here were are, and the car in question has been in the pipeline ever since Audis Cross Lane Coupe was shown at Paris four years ago. The "99% finished article has five, rather than three, doors, is a fraction under 4.2 metres long and sits on the now well-utilised MQB platform. That means the Q2 shares most of its underpinnings with the slightly longer, but lower and narrower, A3 hatch.

Audi says the Q2 "cant be pigeonholed but well have a go because, from where were standing, this very much a small SUV in the mould of a Nissan Juke or a Mini Countryman. It just happens to wear a more premium badge and look a bit more interesting than most other modern Audis, thanks largely to its unusually chamfered shoulder line and contrasting C-pillar.

Prices will start from around £20k and the line-up of engines kicks off with a 114bhp 1.0 turbo triple, although Audi reckons the bulk of buyers will choose either the familiar 148bhp 1.4 TFSI or the equally powerful 2.0 TDI. Both of those engines are available with front- or four-wheel drive, while the range-topping 188bhp petrol and diesel motors are exclusively offered in quattro form.

Q2 what's it like?

Thorough test drive this is not. Our route around sprawling Havana was in strict convoy led by a police escort and we rarely nudged above 40mph.

2016 Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI 150 S tronic review2016 Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI 150 S tronic review
2016 Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI 150 S tronic review2016 Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI 150 S tronic review
2016 Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI 150 S tronic review
2016 Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI 150 S tronic review
2016 Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI 150 S tronic review
2016 Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI 150 S tronic review

Mind you, we often find ourselves grumbling about how smooth the roads are on foreign launches and that certainly isnt the case here. Few British roads are in such a sorry state as Cubas, so it would actually be unfair to draw too many conclusions about how well or otherwise the Q2 might ride on home soil.

Nevertheless, its certainly firmer than the A3 with which it shares a platform. The standard passive dampers allow surprisingly little wheel travel by SUV standards, so theres head toss aplenty along lumpy roads. The optional adaptive setup brings some welcome longer wave compliance when called upon (by choosing Comfort mode), although actually struggles more to keep wheel and road in contact over the really rough, broken-up stuff.

Audi-Q2-2016 interiorAudi-Q2-2016 interior
2016 Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI 150 S tronic review
2016 Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI 150 S tronic review

The upside of is fairly tidy body control by class standards at least through tight, low-speed corners. All versions come with Audis variable Progressive steering, which gives excellent manoeuvrability in town and only adds to that feeling of agility that isnt present in any rival even the Mini Countryman. Wider experience tells us a conventional rack may be preferable for faster driving, but confirmation of that will have to wait until weve driven the Q2, well, faster.

Audi had wanted to show off the range-topping 2.0 TDI, but the terrible quality of Cubas diesel fuel put paid to that. Instead we tried the 1.4 TFSI petrol, which is just as flexible as it is in other applications across the VW Group, only sounding slightly uncouth when you push it beyond 4500rpm. Itll shut down half of its cylinders during light throttle inputs, although you can barely tell when this happens even when youre anticipating it.

Audi-Q2-2017 engineAudi-Q2-2017 engineInside, the Q2s close relationship with the A3 is blindingly obvious, but thats hardly a criticism because Audis premium hatch is as plush as it gets below £30k. Look a little closer and youll notice mildly restyled air vents, the odd more angular surface and one of two harder plastics (some because our car was a prototype, others because Audi reckons an SUV should be slightly more rugged). By any standards, though, the Q2s cabin is a suitably pleasant place to be.

If space is a priority there are larger SUVs in this price bracket, including the Nissan Qashqai. That said, the Q2 isnt exactly cramped inside. Theres lots of head room in the back, despite that swooping roofline, and just about enough knee room for taller adults. Boot space is marginally better than a A3 Sportback, and marginally worse than a Qashqai, at 405 litres with the seats up.

Of the three trim levels SE, Sport and S Line Audi reckons more than half of buyers will plump for Sport. It looks like the pick to us because for a £1550 premium you get sat-nav, auto lights and wipers, cruise control and that contrasting C-pillar.

Should I buy Audi Q2 2016?

A pint-sized SUV with an Audi badge on it is as close to a guaranteed sales success as there is in 2016. And if youre sold on the idea of a (slightly) jacked-up driving position, a swanky cabin and mildly butch styling, theres every reason you might want to wait for the Q2 to arrive.

A more thorough assessment of the Q2s dynamic prowess will have to wait until we drive a production version on European roads. But aside from our reservations about ride comfort, Audis smallest SUV yet looks to be classy, practical and surprisingly good value at least compared with the closest premium-badge-wearing competition.