- Published: Thursday, 22 June 2017 21:58
A new 1.0 litre engine gives Singapore a Q2 for under 139 grand, but does the car feel like a proper Audi?
SINGAPORE — You can now buy an Audi crossover for $138,900 with COE, which is pretty noteworthy because before this you would have had to pay at least $165,800.
That leads us o a natural question, namely: what kind of crossover do you get for that kind of money?
Surprisingly, you end up with a decently equipped, reasonably cheery one in the form of the Q2 1.0 TFSI.
The Q2 was launched at January’s Singapore Motor Show, but it was only available with a 1.4-litre engine. Being the runt of the brand’s Sports Utility Vehicle litter, it duly slotted into the price list below all the others, but perhaps not far enough below; for just $6,465 more you can instead buy a Q3, a larger SUV.
But this new version has a tiny motor that’s all of 999cc in displacement, and that goes some way towards explaining the $26,900 price difference between it and the Q2 1.4 TFSI Sport.
Downsize this, downsize the price. It's McDonald's in reverse
Some of it is down to an additional $5,000 worth of tax savings under the Carbon Emissions-based Vehicle Scheme (which is set to expire at the set of this year), and the rest of it can probably be explained by equipment differences between the two cars.
The 1.0 has less flashy bodywork, for example, with plain black plastic in place of the fancier silver trim on the bumpers and grille of the 1.4.
Inside, the cheaper Q2 has ordinary seats instead of racy “Sports” ones, and it does without the wide expanses of dashboard trim painted in red.
That's not to say that the Q2 1.0 is meanly kitted-out, however. It may not have red cabin trim, for instance, but its dashboard inlays are back-lit with LEDs whose colour can be altered.
We probably should have used a tripod for this shot...
They do plenty for the cabin’s ambience, but so does the overall solidity of the interior. Your fingers will encounter the odd cheap-feeling plastic, but otherwise the Q2 feels more expensive inside than most cars do.
Keyless entry and engine starting, six airbags, auto headlamps and wipers, and a Bluetooth-enabled sound system are other worthwhile but standard features.
Something that came with our test car but costs extra is the Virtual Cockpit system; the digital screen with fancy, customisable displays that make conventional analogue gauges look last-century.
Presto, change-o! Push a button and your dials grow or shrink...
It’s part of a $8,200 bundle that includes a larger MMI (Multi Media Interface) screen with a touchpad on the controller for you to write inputs by spelling them out with your finger.
With a 4G connection it can support eight Wi-Fi devices, and the navigation system is powered by Google. Looking for a nearby cinema? Key in “Golden Village” and the Audi offers suggestions.
The 1.0 TFSI actually comes without a navigation system, but the Virtual Cockpit bundle is worth considering, given how it adds both useful features and a touch of luxury.
None of this would be worth much if the Q2 were a dud to drive, given Audi’s brand aspirations, but happily the little crossover steps up gamely.
The new 1.0 is no fireball, of course, but it does have heart, pulling the Audi along with far more urgency than you would have expected. Load the car up fully, show it a hill to climb, and the little turbo engine gets on with the job, burbling along merrily with a pleasing three-cylinder thrum.
The Q2’s compact size probably works for it here, in the sense that its relatively small body (a VW Golf is a bit bigger, both outside and in) means the engine only has 1,240kg to haul along.
It’s built on the Golf’s MQB platform (a German acronym for Volkswagen’s “modular transverse matrix” architecture) and feels like it, meaning it’s supremely predictable through corners, with great steering feedback and the ability to shrug off bumps. That’s in spite of a low-cost (but space-saving) twist beam set-up in the rear.
The relatively tall height of the car means there’s a fair bit of body roll, and if you want something sharper than this you would be better off with Audi’s A3 instead. That would bring the added benefit of a bit more cabin space in the rear, with back seats that are less upright.
Still, the Q2 does radiate more of a sense of style, and it’s trendy in the way that crossovers generally are right now. Among the breed, the Q2 1.0 probably offers the best prestige/price ratio at the moment.
A recent growth spurt makes the new Mini Countryman more suited to family use, but the 1.0-litre engine makes the Q2 meaningfully cheaper. Jeep’s Renegade is another contender, and apart from a basic cabin has plenty of style going for it, along with a roomier interior.
That said, there is a built-in audience for the Q2 1.0 TFSI that gives Audi a chance to make hay: the people who wanted a Q2 1.4, but couldn’t afford it.
NEED TO KNOW Audi Q2 1.0 TFSI
Engine 999cc, 16V, inline 3, turbocharged
Power 116hp at 5000-5500rpm
Torque 200Nm at 2000-3500rpm
Gearbox 7-speed dual-clutch
Top Speed 197km/h
0-100km/h 10.3 seconds
Fuel efficiency 5.2L/100km
Price $138,900 with COE