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Playful, powerful Audi Q2

BY RORY DALEY
Observer writer

Friday, July 21, 2017

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THE 2018 Audi Q2 emits a playful essence not present in the other Q series sport utility vehicles (SUV). That's a function of its target market. However, it doesn't give up the core ethos of the brand.

Externally, the Q2 is its own being. While the other three Q-series scale up, the new model drags styling cues from the family, Audi history, and adds its own unique touches. The distinctive Audi grille takes prominence, but goes without the sizeable metal surround of the others. There's no mistaking it for anything but an Audi, yet the more square lines and wider colour options would make one question if it was indeed. Throw in the ability to have the C-pillar — which harks back to the company's rallying heritage — in a contrasting colour and marked with the Audi rings, and the Q2 mixes up the SUV visual game a bit.

If the exterior is a game changer for the brand, then the interior is a revelation for the small crossover SUV segment. This is where the Q2 doesn't deviate from the lessons learned from the more upmarket Q-products. For those that have tasted the higher-numbered models, the interior is instantly familiar. Elegant in understated design is the best way to describe what one sees once sitting in the driver's seat. Quality materials, such as the cool inlays finished in a contrasting anodised paint, abound in the major touch areas, further enhancing the experience. Even the simple act of adjusting the air conditioning vents hold a small sense of occasion, given their design and operation. Convenience is the new luxury and features such as automatic rain sensing wipers, auto headlights, and a suite of parking assist technology are available.

The uncluttered ergonomics gives access to all the major functions with the quick press of a button. For more, the excellent Audi MMI infotainment system can be delved into for further customisation. It moves quickly, smoothly, and has intuitive controls and sensible menus on top of shortcut keys. Space is more than adequate for all. Rear passengers can travel in relative comfort. Cargo options are plenty starting with electronic hatch access. From there the usual swathe of Audi netting — hooks, split folding rear seats and dual level floors — are easily found.

From behind the wheel, the Q2 will continue to impress. The first clue is the flat-bottomed steering wheel, something usually reserved for the most sporting of the Audi line-up. Fire up the turbocharged motor and the level of interior cabin refinement comes to the forefront. There is precious little noise, making the Q2 a relaxing long-distance prospect. Even with the windows down and the sunroof in its fully-open mode, at speed the wind noise is more than bearable. Not that it matters, as the stereo system will automatically adjust its volume to compensate.

Like its bigger brothers, the Q2 isn't missing much on the performance front. There's no real need for an efficiency mode as the vehicle is capable of delivering great gas mileage with the right driver at the wheel. This leaves three modes --- COMFORT, DYNAMIC and INDIVIDUAL. Those not equipped with the optional adaptive dampers can only have the steering, throttle and the seven-speed tiptronic adjusted. COMFORT makes things more relaxed. INDIVIDUAL allows customisation. Drop the Q2 into SPORT and one won't be disappointed. The wheel weights up for more direct feel of what is light and willing chassis. The extra ground clearance doesn't impact handling much. The transmission does a good enough job, but to fully exploit the power its best to grab the paddle shifts and do thing yourself. The Q2 can be hustled along with the best in the class without degrading its ride quality.

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