Audi updates its smallest crossover/SUV, the Q2, just in time for 2021 and, as there wasn't much wrong with it in the first place, not much has changed. Therefore, if you liked the Audi Q2 before its modest facelift, you're going to find little to disagree with here on the refreshed model.
In the metal
Aesthetically, get your magnifying glass out - we're on one of these 'minimal' facelift jobs. Hawk-vision readers might have spotted there are three slats now cut into the top of the Q2's 'Singleframe' grille, tying it in with the same styling feature on other modern Audis and harking back to the capital-Q Quattro of the 1980s, while there are LED headlights as standard on more models across the board, with new daytime running signatures at the front. This has necessitated a slight, pentagonal reshaping of the outer detailing of the front bumper so, for the easiest way to spot an updated Q2, toddle round the back of the car and you'll see the same polygonal shape repeated at the extremities of the rear bumper. Previously, the little Audi crossover simply had two horizontal reflector strips in the same position.
This 'samey' air continues inside, where the Q2 continues to have modest rear-passenger accommodation in the back of the cabin and the dashboard architecture from the previous-generation Audi A3 up front. This fact might bother you, if you're into everything looking as shiny and up-to-date as possible, but on the other hand, if you're a person who laments the increasing digitisation of car interiors in the 2020s, then the Q2's simple and highly effective MMI controller plus physical climate controls and switchgear will probably please you no end. In our view, the Q2's interior still looks funky and modern at first glance, and it feels suitably well-built and classy when you start operating various onboard functions and prodding at bits of the trim finishing.
The Audi's oh-so-similar visuals outside and in lead to a driving experience that is not revelatory in the slightest. Which is no bad thing, of course, because the Q2 has always conducted itself rather sweetly on the road - and so it proves again.
We tried both a 150hp S tronic TDI with quattro all-wheel drive and a 110hp manual TFSI with drive going to the front wheels only, and it's the latter car that is far more representative of what Q2 buyers want. The minute you start adding twin-clutch gearboxes and quattro and big-power engines to the Audi, its asking price edges ever-closer to the Q3 family of models and so the Q2 starts to make less sense as a prospective purchase.
Thankfully, the 1.0 TFSI (it's badged '30' on the boot, in that befuddling model hierarchy that Audi came up with some years back depending on power outputs, but it's not a 3.0-litre, folks) is a deeply capable machine in this class and the one we'd recommend you look at first in the Q2 range. Its high-speed stability is tremendous, while the ride and refinement are superior on the smaller-wheeled models with softer suspension, as it should be - so the 1.0 TFSI is the nicest car on the motorway, despite its relative paucity of power.
Not that you'll mind the on-paper 110hp and 200Nm, nor the positively glacial 11.2-second 0-100km/h time, because the Q2 TFSI feels far livelier than any of these black-and-white numbers would have you think. It uses a turbocharged three-cylinder engine that revs out keenly to its 6,500rpm redline, without becoming wheezy and thin beyond 5,500rpm and the point of peak power delivery, while it stays largely vibration-free and admirably subdued even when it is being exerted. It should prove to be economical to run, as well, because a wholly irrelevant 185km/h Autobahn thrash then spirited drive across German countryside (no owner will ever be doing this with their Q2, not even Germans themselves) only saw its consumption dip to 8.5 litres/100km (33.2mpg). A later, steadier cruise at 120km/h saw it turn in 6.3 litres/100km (44.8mpg), so around town you'll probably be looking at more like 50-to-the-gallon with little effort.
In terms of handling, it's typical Audi - perfectly accomplished, if a touch strait-laced and reserved. Which is precisely what a compact, premium crossover needs to be, of course, not some sort of hot hatch in disguise, but there are rivals in this class that can offer the keener driver a bit more involvement behind the wheel at the limit. Not that the Q2 has any significantly serious flaws, save for one: its Progressive Steering, a standard feature on all facelifted cars, is utterly horrid in Dynamic mode. It's all springy, artificially weighted and lacking in feel. Audi has shown it can do variable steering to a suitably high standard in other cars in its portfolio, while the quattro Q2 TDI we drove later also had a more acceptable Dynamic steering setting than the TFSI, but it would appear that if you buy a front-wheel-drive Q2 petrol, you ought to leave the steering in Comfort mode all of the time. Rendering the fitment of Progressive Steering a touch pointless, if we're honest.
However, body control, brakes, damping, wheel travel, resistance to understeer, the steering (in the Comfort setting) and that ultra-slick, well-spaced six-speed manual gearbox all contrive to make the Q2 very decent on the right road. It'll grip onto the asphalt a lot longer than you'd expect and its chassis balance is, in the main, resolutely neutral no matter what lunacy you try with turn-in speeds nor mid-bend throttle or brake inputs, so across country it's fast and dignified. It's just not massively entertaining in the same scenario, is all.
What you get for your money
While we can't mark this section up at the moment, it is likely the revised Audi Q2 will be priced broadly the same as the old version's starting figure of €30,645. Trim lines should continue to run SE and then S line. Engine choices will be the 30 TFSI and 35 TFSI petrols, as well as a 30 TDI diesel, with six-speed manual and seven-speed S tronic gearboxes offered. It is not expected that any quattro all-wheel-drive Q2s will come to these shores, unless Audi Ireland does the decent thing and gives us the SQ2 this time around, and we are still awaiting fuel economy and CO2 figures for the 1.0-litre TFSI engine to be homologated, so we don't know the tax implications of the Q2 as yet.
While 'nothing new under the sun' is being harsh on the updated and undoubtedly talented Audi Q2, as it's hardly a boring or undesirable car in its class, this is familiar stuff from the German company. Here you have a polished, proficient little product that has sold well since its inception, so - come update time - the cautious Teutonic company has decided not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Visually, the 'new' Q2 looks like the 'old' Q2 and, surprise surprise, it's the same story with the driving experience as well. Unless you're an LED-headlight fetishist, there is little extra here that will make you suddenly rush out and buy an Audi Q2, any more than you would have done in the first place.