As the plane descended into Bahrain International Airport, I could see the overhang of dust clouds like a blanket over the cold, wet tarmac. Just half an hour later, as my cab drove alongside the airport fences, I could hardly see an aircraft through the thick wall of dust. Even before we pulled into the porch of our hotel, the cab was speckled with blobs of dusty rain. Just the sort of morning to launch a multitalented little crossover that emerged from a dust of confusion that took five years to settle!
THE SPECS: 1.0L/1.4L 150hp/2.0 L 190hp TFSI engines, 7-speed S-tronic gearbox
THE FEATURES: Progressive Steering and Adaptive Chassis Control (Standard), Audi Drive Select, Head Up Display, Audi virtual cockpit, 8.3″ screen with MMI Navigation Plus
THE PRICE: AED 120,000 to AED 170,000
UPSIDE: Nice mix of funky and urban styling, Plenty of options to customize, Midsize engine offers reasonable power and economy
FLIPSIDE: Options will take price high, Rear legroom
It was in 2012 that Audi introduced a dual mode plug in hybrid crossover convertible coupe concept called the Crosslane Coupe to a befuddled audience. In 5 years, the Q2 lost its lithium and shed a few more pounds, gained a couple of doors, and decided to keep the funky spirit. So that the confusion has been pretty much restricted to the hashtag Audi has chosen for its newest family member.
The new Q7 could be called elegant and angular; the Q5 sportily sleek and the Q3 a starting point for all Q-rious about Audi. As for the Q2… well, the Q2 keeps a safe distance from the serious and suave line-up – far enough for those who don’t like the face of sobriety yet appreciate Audi’s attempts to deliver fun in its own straight-faced way. It gave me the same feeling as the range Rover Evoque gave during its launch. Very much a Range Rover, yet deliberately different. Likewise, the Q2 is an Audi in essence yet follows ‘freestyle’ in design. Q2 is like an outhouse to have fun in, just far enough from the family manor.
The Q2 has a higher beltline and a short greenhouse (that is, the windows are high up and narrower) while design lines on the sides are much sharper. Yet the lights (in front and back) are freed up in their edges. They are large rather than sleek and narrow, as one would expect. The Q2 received a touch of the design philosophy of Marc Lichte, Audi’s new design boss, on its grille and the trimmed down sides. The fluid touches that smoothen the edges and corners that are plentiful in the Q2 hide the fact that this 4.19 m long compact crossover is 20 cm shorter and 8 cm lower than the Q3!
The First Drive
Just when I was counting on the rain and the slip roads to feel the Quattro, our pilot announced that the 1.4L TFSI engine did not come with the all wheel drive. The reason was obvious as soon as we drove off. This Q2 is only 1205 kg heavy and without the extra weight of the AWD, the 150 horsepower keeps the flaccid phase very brief and renders the drive rather quick and steadily powerful.
The Q2 has comfortable front seats that in my test car could be raised mechanically, but the rear might feel crammed with a tall guy in the front. The car had a navigation and blind spot monitor, a stylish audi cockpit display and the family’s multimedia control on the console.
The very SUV-like short overhangs is good for the little and light off-roading you might do in your Q2. The wheelbase is even shorter than the R8 by 5 mm, which showed its advantage as I sharply, and accurately, turned into the right lane from transverse traffic. The mid range torque is ample and the Q2 rushed to catch up with the A5 in the lead through city traffic. Patches of sludge on the roadside teased me as I looked far into the year, at the promise of a 2.0L AWD Q2 joining the range. The 1.0L option internationally introduced will not likely make it to our region.
The Q2 comes with progressive steering and dynamic chassis technology of Audi that means less effort while turning and easier maneuvering. It drives like a contemporary urban crossover and does smooth over bumps. With parking assist and camera, the window line shouldn’t be a bother. The cliché about today’s crossovers rings true in the case of the Q2 as well – about detached steering, lack of feedback and all that Greek!
The most attractive thing about Audi Q2
It is not power, handling or comfort but customization! This car comes in catchy colours like ibis white, coral orange and Vegas yellow. The trims are Basic, Sport and Design while an Offroad styling package and Carbon styling are also available. The door and dashboard inlays too can be specked in body colour or otherwise; the same can be done to the roof. 10 alloy wheels in sizes ranging from 16” to 19” can be fitted on to the Q2 while the thick angular C-pillar, what Audi calls the C-blade, can be customized in 60 different ways! Guess what. The blades can be swapped too: so you could have one for the office and another for the after party!
What you typically get here
UAE showrooms will have an interestingly specked Audi Q2 displayed from next month. The 1.4 L TFSI model will have leather seats, auto hold function, rear view camera and automatic park assist. It is priced at AED 155,000.
The essential Audi Q2
The Q2 adds the fun and funky touch to the Audi family – what the Evoque does to the Range Rover. The devotees of Mini could find a less quirky and more practical option in the Q2. Those mourning the departure of the Juke may want to throw in a few more (and some more) thousands and turn to the Q2. Adding Audi cockpit (the nice and big navigation panel for the driver) and blind spot monitor options could make the Q2 too pricey! Anyway, the Q2 customer is not one to wonder ‘Then why not Q3?’ because they’ll want the ‘funky edge’ so much so that they might not even miss the Quattro!