Like most small crossovers, the front-wheel drive Audi Q2 1.6-litre diesel is what Irish buyers will want, and they are in for a treat, as this model drives exceptionally well.
In the Metal:
Given that the Audi Q2 is pitched as a small crossover, the surprising thing about seeing it in the metal for the first time is how sporty its proportions are. It has a distinctively wide track and it appears low-slung considering its 'soft-roading' capabilities. Audi is targeting a younger audience than it typically appeals to and has styled the Q2 accordingly.
It is a bold design that stands out when compared to the conservative styling of Audi's other SUV models such as the Q3 and Q5. The front is dominated by a combination of Audi's signature large grille (this time in a new octagonal shape), large intakes on the lower corners and angled headlights.
The flanks of the Q2 are a smorgasbord of angles and surfaces that all capture light in different ways. One fresh piece of design runs along the tops of the doors and looks as if excess bodywork had been sliced off with a scalpel. Another distinctive feature is the contrasting C-pillar panel. This gives the roofline a 'floating' appearance and the impression of a larger cabin area when viewed in side profile. A 405-litre boot is another welcome addition, giving the Q2 some real practicality.
It's all good inside the Audi Q2, too. As expected from a premium car maker such as Audi the quality of the interior is of a very high standard. Audi doesn't appear to have cut corners anywhere, even in the mid-level SE grade trim. Search throughout and you won't find cheap scratchy plastics anywhere, even in the lower sections that are usually out of sight.
Likely to be the most popular model, this 1.6-litre TDI version of the Q2, with a six-speed manual front-wheel drive transmission, will satisfy the needs of most buyers in Ireland. It is also one of the best models in the Q2 range to drive. The engine offers a useful 250Nm of torque and does so from 1,500rpm so you don't have to work the engine very hard to extract most of the performance.
Generally, manual transmissions from Audi are good, but the six-speed in the Q2 feels especially good. It slots into each cog with a fluid motion and enough weight to add to the Q2's substantial feeling. The variable ratio steering requires minimal effort at urban speeds, with parking being an easy affair that requires fewer turns of the wheel.
Out of town, the ride quality of the Q2 shines through. So good in fact is the suspension that we had to double check that it was the standard suspension in our test car and not an optional adaptive type. It would be fair to say that the ride is just firm enough to add some real composure to the Q2's demeanour. It still manages to soak up most surface imperfections with ease. The S line sport package has a slightly different setup, which sees the car's ride height lower by 10mm on sports suspension.
Steer the Q2 through a series of fast bends and you will be surprised by how well it grips the road, even in front-wheel drive guise. There is less body roll than expected too, all of which combines to give the baby Audi SUV one of the best chassis in its segment.
What you get for your Money:
The full breakdown of model pricing and specification details has yet to be confirmed by Audi Ireland, but the impression that the Q2 should have competitive pricing is there. We expect there to be three different trim levels as on other cars - Attraction, SE and S line.
S line models will get a sportier exterior style with the sill and wheel arch cladding coming painted in the same colour as the body, while the front and rear bumpers take on a slightly different look.
For those willing to spend the extra money Audi will have no shortage of technology to add. A full suite of connectivity will be available including Android Auto and Apple Car Play. Full internet capability is on offer thanks to a built-in sim card that will also enable Google Earth navigation, while tech-lovers will want to add the 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit digital instrument display.
The new Audi Q2 sets a new standard for small crossovers and is likely to be a huge hit amongst buyers. With a multitude of colour and specification combinations available it offers plenty of room for personalisation, but crucially drives with all the finesse and refinement customers will expect from the Audi brand.