Road test: Compact Audi continues go-anywhere heritage

The 'go-anywhere' Audi Q2

WE live in a world of contrasts and there could hardly be a greater one that that between the Skoda Superb and Audi Q2.

Both are products of the VW Group and when they arrived on our driveway on consecutive weeks they did so powered by the same engine and gearbox combination offering 150 PS and automated DSG gearbox.

Even their prices were similar, with the Skoda listing at £27,950 and the Audi £27,765 although Audi then requires you to add its £845 on-the-road package (making the total £28,610) which is already included in the Skoda’s list price.

The major difference, though, is that while the Skoda is a slab of serious kit the Audi is slightly more frivolous in its purpose. Some might argue it doesn’t have one because it’s a mini 4×4 without even a spare wheel but other manufacturers have been producing shrunken 4x4s for years. When you view success of the Mini Countryman you can see just why Audi has to be here, too.

Buying preferences are highly polarised in the rarefied atmosphere of this part of the market. Audi buyers wouldn’t be seen dead in a BMW, Mini, or Mercedes, while any salesman working for one of those three brands would find it equally difficult to persuade an Audi driver to swap the badge on his or her chosen key fob.

Audi has always had enjoyed warm enthusiasm in the Hardy household since we owned a 1972 100LS saloon back in the ’80s. It was huge on the inside, felt powerful for its day, and was comfortable.

It had also been restored to near pristine condition for export to Finland, which had really tough laws, but its owner never emigrated so we bought it. When we decided to sell there was no shortage of buyers, either, thanks to Audi’s quality image.

Some things never change, and that image is one of them. It helps explain why you can get so much Skoda or apparently so little Audi for the same money. But that’s not to say the Q2 is bad value. Where it sits in the market it’s about right it’s just that not that many of us would necessarily be able to afford to sit in it.

The Q2 is both capable and compact and for many people that’s exactly what they want. The front seats major on space and comfort while those behind, while comfortable as chairs, suffer when it comes to leg space.

But if you are the modern nuclear couple with one or two children then it will suit just fine, the more so because the Q2 shares the same superb and easy-to-use ISOFix mounts as the Skoda. With a 10 second slot-in time there’s no excuse for cutting corners by using just seatbelts to secure a child’s travel seat.

Inside Audi’s Q2

Those who regularly park in urban spaces will appreciate the Audi’s compact exterior. It’s perfect for what car park architects consider to be an average-sized car and the same might also be borne in mind by purchasers of modern houses, where driveways can be more a figment of the imagination than a reality.

There’s plenty to like about this Audi in everyday use, not least the quattro four wheel drive system that makes a nonsense of the snowy conditions experienced by much of the country just before Christmas. Audi has been campaigning its quattro cars since the 1980s and has never let up on them.

Initially they were to add to sporty driving abilities but these days they also provide all-surface traction across the whole range and have led to the Q models as well as the allroad cars that enhance the A4 and A6 line-ups.

It’s a simple yet effective system as far as drivers are concerned because basically it can be ignored and left to its own devices. That’s exactly how all 4x4s should operate – manual selection can mean stopping with consequent loss of traction that makes it difficult to get going again.

Despite its compact dimensions there’s a usable boot with a sensible cubic shape that can be increased to a maximum 1,000 litres with the seats folded. Beneath it is a spare wheel well which should really be used for its proper purpose but instead there’s a pump and gunge system.

Outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate the car’s 1.8 tonne towing ability, perfect for a decent caravan, boat, or brace of jet skis. With the trailer unhitched, the car then becomes the perfect chariot for exploring narrow lanes in remote places. And at 44 mpg it’ll travel along quite a few before it needs replenishing.

Maurice and Annette Hardy

Car: Audi Q2 2.0 TDI quattro Sport S tronic 150PS

Does it fit your ego…

0-62 mph: 8.1 secs

Top speed: 131 mph

PS: 150 @ 3500 rpm

Torque: 340 Nm @ 1750 rpm

…and your wallet…

Price: £29,640

Combined: 58.9 mpg

CO2 emissions: 125 g/km

Best bits: compact go-anywhere family car



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