It’s easy to forget about the Audi Q2.
Its newer, bigger brother, the Q3, stole the spotlight last year with its more grown-up look and coupe-styled Sportback option, and continues to dominate the Q2 on the sales charts.
That could be about to change. A recent update has given the Q2 a subtly sharper look for 2021, along with a more up-to-date interior and fresh base engine.
The old turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder from last year’s 35 TFSI has been replaced with a turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder with cylinder deactivation technology.
There’s also a new SQ2 flagship, complete with Golf R power.
Can the update drag the smaller Q2 out of its bigger brother’s shadow?
Pricing for the 2021 Audi Q2 range kicks off at $42,900 before on-road costs for the front-wheel drive 35 TFSI.
The 40 TFSI quattro S Line ups the price to $49,990 before on-roads, but brings more power, all-wheel drive, and more standard equipment.
Sitting atop the range is the SQ2, priced from $64,400 before on-roads.
Standard across the Q2 range is an 8.3-inch infotainment system with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, factory satellite navigation, and DAB+ digital radio.
There’s LED headlights and tail lights, keyless entry and start, leather seat and steering wheel trim, wireless phone charging, and an eight-speaker sound system as well.
Some rivals charge extra for keyless entry and leather trim on much more expensive small SUVs, so to see it standard here is a welcome change.
The headlights and wipers are automatic, and dual-zone climate control is standard. The 35 TFSI rides on 18-inch alloy wheels.
Moving to the 40 TFSI brings a powered tailgate, selectable drive modes, the S Line exterior package, front sports seats, and paddle shifters.
Standalone options include the 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster and a 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen premium sound system.
There are also two main option packages. The Style Package ($3490 35 TFSI, $2690 40 TFSI) adds 19-inch alloy wheels, Matrix LED headlights, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, and extended black exterior trim.
Opting for the Premium Package ($3050 35 TFSI, $2950 in 40 TFSI) gets you adaptive cruise control with stop/go, lane-keep assist, semi-autonomous parking assist, and auto brake hold.
It also brings heated, power-folding mirrors, rear privacy glass, front seat heating, a 10-speaker sound system, and the 12.3-inch digital cluster.
The 2021 Audi Q2 has a five-star rating from ANCAP based on testing conducted in 2016.
It received an adult occupant protection score of 93 per cent, a child occupant protection score of 86 per cent, a pedestrian protection score of 70 per cent and a safety assist score of 60 per cent.
The five-star rating doesn’t apply to the SQ2, which remains untested by ANCAP.
All 2021 Audi Q2 models come standard with the following safety features:
- Autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Front, front-side and curtain airbags
- Reversing camera with front and rear parking sensors
Audi is culling buttons at a rapid rate across its range, but the Q2 bucks the trend.
It’s based on the previous-generation A3, and features the same interior design. Usually an older interior would be a drawback, but the design in the Q2 still looks box fresh.
From the cool metal air vent surrounds to the satisfying click-clack of the climate controls and infotainment controller, it’s tactile in a way touchscreen-heavy designs just can’t be.
It does feel a bit cheap in places, though. The base door trims are plain black and rock hard, and there’s no air vents or fold-down central armrest in the rear.
Infotainment is a mixed bag. On the one hand, the (optional) Virtual Cockpit sat where the speedo and rev counter usually would be is still the standard-setter for digital dials.
Like in more expensive models it can overlay critical information on a high-resolution satellite map, display fake analogue dials, show a simple trip computer, or give information about your media.
It makes the Q2 feel orders of magnitude more grown up, especially when you consider even the top-spec BMW X2 has old-fashioned analogue dials.
The central infotainment screen is a generation old, which means it isn’t touch-operated nor is it running Audi’s latest interface. Instead, it’s run with a rotary controller on the transmission tunnel and a smattering of shortcut buttons.
It’s dead easy to use once you’re dialled into to what’s required, and arguably demands less eyes-off-road time than a touchscreen, although the graphics are a bit blockier and the startup times slower than Audi’s latest.
Using CarPlay is also easier with touch than a rotary controller, which is worth keeping in mind.
Factory satellite navigation is standard, as is wireless phone charging.
Storage space around the cabin is generally good, with cupholders behind the transmission lever, a small under-armrest storage space, and decent door bins.
Rear seat space is acceptable, albeit not standout. Legroom is limited behind taller drivers, although headroom is surprisingly good for a compact, style-focused crossover.
There are no air vents in the back of any Q2 model, and the 35 and 40 TFSI lack the rear USB ports featured in the SQ2.
Boot space is 355L with the dual-tier boot floor at its lowest setting, although it can be raised to make loading heavy items easier. There is no spare wheel.
A powered bootlid is standard on the 40 TFSI, and a $900 option on the 35 TFSI.
For 2021, the Audi Q2 is available with a choice of two engines.
The 35 TFSI uses a turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder producing 110kW of power and 250Nm of torque. It’s available only with front-wheel drive.
The 40 TFSI uses a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with 140kW of power and 320Nm of torque, exclusively available with all-wheel drive. All models use a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
The Q2 uses 5.2L/100km on the combined cycle in the 35 TFSI, and 7.0L/100km in the 40 TFSI. It drinks 95 RON fuel, not cheaper 91 RON regular unleaded.
The SQ2 uses its own 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. For more on that car, check out our separate launch review.
The Q2 drives exactly as you’d expect. It’s solid but largely unremarkable, which is par for the course at the low end of most premium line-ups.
At the base level, the 35 TFSI is best suited to life in the city. It’s smooth and quiet in fine Volkswagen Group tradition, and makes peak torque from just 1500rpm.
That means it feels punchy off the mark, or when you just lean on the throttle at low speed, although it doesn’t necessarily have all that much to offer if you push harder and chase the redline.
The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is quick to shift on the move, and can be forced to hold lower gears by flicking into Sport or using the paddle shifters.
Our time was spent mostly on higher-speed rural roads, so it’s tough to comment on how the transmission behaves off the mark, but previous experience suggests it’s likely to be a smooth mover – especially given the base Q2 range doesn’t get auto brake-hold.
Although it’s a small car riding on big wheels, the base Q2 floats along nicely at highway speeds. It does a good job filtering out little imperfections, while body control remains good.
The lack of standard adaptive cruise hurts it as a highway cruiser, as does the amount of road noise on coarse chip surfaces. It’s a bit loud on country highways, as is often the case in entry-level European cars.
Moving to the 40 TFSI quattro doesn’t change much on the ride and handling front. Like the 35 TFSI, it has effortless steering and a comfortable ride, thanks in large part to the fact both ride on 18-inch alloy wheels.
Like the 35 TFSI, the engine is smooth and quiet, with plenty of torque off the mark and a punchy mid-range.
There’s more power at essentially any speed, so the 40 TFSI doesn’t run out of puff when you ask for a bit more performance on the highway, and gets off the mark faster when you’re in a hurry.
The security of all-wheel drive will be worth its weight in gold to some buyers, too.
The 2021 Audi Q2 is covered by a three-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.
It’s disappointing Audi persists with a three-year warranty when Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, and Genesis have followed the mainstream market in offering a five-year warranty.
A five-year service plan will set you back $2280.
Does the Audi Q2 deserve to sell in better numbers? Probably.
It’s the least expensive Audi, BMW, or Mercedes-Benz SUV you can buy in Australia, but it isn’t cheap and nasty.
Although the entry-level model feels premium-ish, a extra smattering of special touches and more powerful, all-wheel drive powertrain make the 40 TFSI quattro feel like the smarter pick.
With a starting price below $50,000 it makes the BMW X2 look a bit expensive, provided you don’t dive too deep into the options.
Start ticking boxes, though, and it’s worth considering the more powerful SQ2. At $64,400 before on-road costs it’s $7000 more than a 40 TFSI with all the fruit.
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