Latest report: Audi Q2 1.4TFSI 150 S-Tronic S Line
28 June 2018
Author: Debbie Wood
Update 6: Cabin appeal
Hardly an issue of BusinessCar goes by without us talking about how quickly technology is evolving. The rate at which new kit comes to market is simply staggering. Recent years have seen the introduction of Nissan's e-pedal, Volvo's self-driving tech and BMW's gesture control, to name but a few.
Today, cars can park (and pretty much drive) themselves, you can charge your phone without using a cable and speak to the car to access functions. The latest sat-nav and infotainment systems can seemingly think for themselves too, modifying choices and locations to mirror our habits and tastes.
We drove Audi's flagship car, the A8, in late 2017 and were blown away by the level of advanced tech on offer. Although our Q2 doesn't quite offer the same level of high-tech features as its stablemate, it still impresses when it comes to modern kit.
Highlights include wireless charging if you've got an up-to-date phone, the excellent Virtual Cockpit and an autonomous parking system.
Audi's Virtual Cockpit was first launched in the TT in 2014 and mimics most of the information available through the car's main infotainment screen. The resolution is crisp and the system is so easy to navigate around, even safety fanatics will struggle to argue that it's distracting for the driver.
Because you can have the infotainment screen and the Virtual Cockpit displaying different features at the same time, the driver can have more information on show. For example, I like to listen to Spotify while on the move, so I can have the app open on the main screen via Apple CarPlay, which is standard on our car. In the meantime, I can keep the sat-nav directions and the map showing through the Virtual Cockpit. It sounds simple but it makes a big difference.
The sat-nav is advanced and includes traffic updates, adjusting the timings and rerouting accordingly. It also clearly shows on the map where roads are closed and congestion is building, whether you're heading in that direction or not. If you travel as many miles as I do, especially around the M25, kit like this is essential to avoid getting stuck in traffic. I actually prefer Audi's own sat-nav system to Apple CarPlay and Google Maps - something I cannot say for most systems currently available on the market.
Most of these features form part of the Technology Pack, which is the most expensive, but is still a good value for money option on our Q2 at £1,395 and incorporates the Virtual Cockpit display, wireless charging and the upgraded sat-nav system.
To activate the sat-nav, you can use voice control, the rotary dial or the touchpad system on top of the dial to insert destinations. For the most part, the touchpad works well, only sometimes getting confused between numbers and letters like '0' and 'o' or '1' and 'I'. If you have dumpy fingers like me (thanks, Dad) you may accidentally end up inputting a 'g' that gets mistaken for a 'q' - but, thankfully, it's easy to delete mistakes.
I've found voice control a little temperamental to use, but my husband raves about it, finding little fault in the system at all. The rotary dial is still my preferred way of getting around the infotainment system - probably showing my age.
Audi designers were keen to make the Q2 appeal to a younger - more hip - generation and, although design is part of the solution, technology plays a big role in attracting millennial buyers. While it might not be as technologically brilliant as the A8, the Q2 costs around £50,000 less and offers buyers a slice of modern technology, which is well executed and comes at an affordable price.
Our average fuel consumption: 41.9mpg
Update 5: Sporting effort
Our long-term Audi Q2 certainly knows how to grab the attention of passersby, but we all know there needs to be more to a car than those eye-catching looks. After all, for any keen driver, what lies under the bonnet will rank even higher on the priority list.
This member of the BusinessCar stable is fitted with a 1.4-litre petrol engine with 150hp, 250Nm of torque, and Cylinder on Demand technology, which essentially deactivates two of the engine's four cylinders when not needed, to keep economy respectable. Impressively, the engine is so refined that you'd struggle to notice when this wizardry is taking place, though.
Official economy figures are pretty good as a result, with a combined figure of 52.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 123g/km. Despite the green credentials, the car can sprint 0-62mph in just 8.5 seconds, meaning it feels far from sluggish.
Out on the road, this characterful petrol offers plenty of pull when accelerating and is eager to rev. It's an easy car to drive and have fun with when behind the wheel, with the Q2 feeling agile in the corners at speeds and well balanced around tight city streets. Comfort is good too, although on 17in wheels like our car here, the ride can get a little bumpy, especially for those in the rear.
The star however is the firm's automatic seven-speed gearbox, the S-Tronic. Its swift, smooth gear changes are an excellent pairing with this engine and make day-to-day driving more relaxing, especially in start-stop traffic, plus a flick into 'S' mode and a new urgency from the gearbox really adds to the overall driving experience.
Like most Audis, this Q2 features the Drive Select system that offers five different modes - efficiency, auto, comfort, dynamic and individual - which, in the Q2's case, make real tangible differences to the suspension and engine settings. Select Dynamic to accompany the 'S' mode in the gearbox, and you've got an overall engaging and responsive drive.
However, all this sporty driving has taken its toll on my average fuel economy, which has dipped into the 30s when I've been enjoying myself around my local country lanes a little too much.
Our average fuel consumption: 41.8mpg
Update 4: The multistorey challenge
It doesn't take a genius to work out that SUVs are very fashionable at the moment. They are no longer known just for their off-road capabilities, however; a lot of the SUVs of today take a 'style over substance' approach.
Take our Q2. It's an SUV designed for city living, thanks to its compact dimensions and low running costs - two things you would never have associated with the SUVs of old.
Not only does the Q2's small turning circle help navigate tight city streets, but its 4.19m length means Audi's baby SUV is easy to squeeze into cramped parking spaces and can tackle even the trickiest of multistorey car parks.
Sharing a great deal of its underpinnings with its sister car, the A3 Sportback, the Q2 drives, unsurprisingly, very much like a compact hatchback, with the added luxury of more headroom. As is the case with most modern Audis, the Q2 comes with progressive steering, which varies the amount of input needed by the driver, depending on the speed of the car.
The end result is a car with light, responsive steering that is simple to drive, especially in the city.
If the car's steering set-up and small dimensions didn't make parking easy enough, driving aids are also on hand. At the top of the list is the reversing camera, a must for anyone who isn't confident with parallel or bay parking, which costs an extra £395. Standard on the Q2 in S Line spec are rear parking sensors, which should be essential kit for any fleet, as well as Audi's pre-sense front system with pedestrian detection, a clever technology that uses sensors to detect people or other vehicles. If an impending collision is detected, it warns the driver with audible beeps and can even initiate braking.
However, if you want to take the stress completely out of parking, then Park Assist is the system for you. The technology uses the car's many sensors to search for a car parking space and then performs the steering action autonomously, leaving the driver only responsible for the accelerator pedal and working the brakes, and pressing the button to activate the system in the first place, of course. It couldn't be easier and is a bargain at £450, we think.
Our average fuel consumption: 43.7mpg
Update 3: Generation Z
The term 'millennial' has been thrown around a lot recently to describe the latest generation of car buyers that have grown up in a digital age. These savvy buyers have moved away from traditional ownership, and prioritise technology and connectivity above anything else - or so the experts say anyway.
However, we all know that when it comes to choosing your next company car, unless you're carefree and single, it's never really your decision - millennial or not.
Alongside your partner, your children's opinion will be one of the biggest influences - after all, everyone wants to be the parent with the 'cool' car, especially when the kids reach those dreaded teenage years.
Eager to find out what's important to the next generation - or Generation Z to give them their official name - I asked my 15-year-old stepdaughter what she thinks of the trendiest (apparently this is an acceptable term for someone over 30) member of the BusinessCar fleet - the Audi Q2.
The first thing that received praise was the bodystyle - SUVs are in fashion at the moment, after all - and the second was the Q2's compact dimensions; a mini SUV is apparently very 'cute'.
Most teenagers today are very brand aware and even though they cannot drive yet, manufacturers like Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW attract more admiration than most - the school run is proof of this. Even if the Q2 was stripped of all luxuries and tech, it would still be the first choice over the Ford Focus also sitting in our driveway.
Luckily our Q2 doesn't scrimp in the kit department. In the S Line trim, our car comes with plenty of equipment as standard, including stylish LED headlights that are particularly popular, front sports seats in part-leather upholstery (another feature that has received praise) and Apple CarPlay, something that is now deemed essential for any car by the next generation of drivers.
The biggest hit in terms of kit, though, is wireless charging, which forms part of the Technology Pack (£1,395). Frustratingly. it will only work with the most modern phones, which I don't own but, of course, most teenagers do, and it's proving invaluable to help keep the kids connected - well worth the investment.
I rarely get things right in my stepdaughter's eyes, especially when it comes to my taste in music or fashion sense; however, the Audi Q2 seems to be the exception to the rule.
Our average fuel consumption: 44.3mpg
Update 2: Baby on board
You wouldn't be alone in thinking that, being the smallest member of the Audi SUV family, the Q2's main strengths lie in personalisation and design, and not in the practicality department.
Boot space, at 405 litres, is significantly smaller than the BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA and MINI Countryman, the Q2's more obvious rivals. However, it trumps many of its compact SUV mainstream rivals, like the Renault Captur, Seat Arona and Hyundai Kona, and betters most C-segment hatchbacks, like the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf.
The brochure tells us this is more than enough space for a large suitcase or the weekly shop; however, a new addition to the family meant I could find out first-hand just how practical the Q2 is for family travel.
Having a baby is life-changing for any couple and it's amazing how much stuff somebody so small needs. So a practical car is a must.
The good news is that the Q2 can easily accommodate a modern baby-travel system with room for a few bags if out on a shopping trip. The boot lip is fairly low too, making easy work of lifting the travel system chassis in and out; meanwhile, the clips inside help secure anything fragile. The only downside is if the pram part is needed the parcel shelf has to be removed to be able to fit it all inside. If more boot space is needed, though, the rear seats can be easily collapsed to liberate up to 1,050 litres of space.
Fitting the car seat also proved a doddle (after a bit of practice), thanks to the Audi's Isofix points and, although it's not the most spacious of cars in the rear, my teenage stepdaughter, who is taller than me, has had no grumbles about roominess so far.
There are plenty of storage options throughout the front of the cabin for keys, purses and paperwork, while the rear footwells can accommodate the new changing bag that carries everything but the kitchen sink. The only complaint is the lack of storage options and cupholders in the rear, an issue for a 15-year-old, but not so much for my four-week old son.
Our average fuel consumption: 43.2mpg
Update 1: Welcome
"Why on earth did you choose yellow?"
That was the first question my husband asked on returning home with our latest addition to the BusinessCar fleet. My reply was, "Why not?"
The days of the typical company car being a D-segment saloon or C-segment hatchback, in only sombre black or silver colours and fitted solely with a 1.6 or 2.0-litre diesel engine under the bonnet, are long gone. Drivers have so much more influence over what car they can choose these days and, because of the advancements across the board in engine technology, and the gaps getting tighter for whole-life costs, choice lists have been blown wide open.
It's never been a better time to be a user-chooser and design has become a fundamental part of the decision process, leaving cars like the Q2 hot property on user-chooser lists.
It's not just the 'Vegas Yellow' paintwork that grabs attention either (although it's got very mixed reviews so far with friends and family), there are a number of distinctive features that are likely to turn heads, like the wide tailgate, coloured C-pillar panel and familiar Audi grille design.
Helping to further drive appeal is the fact that the Q2 is a compact SUV, a sector that is still showing considerable growth in the UK.
Like the rest of its family, the Q2 boasts premium appeal with excellent quality throughout. Our new long-term car is in top-of-the range S Line trim and comes with part-leather sports seats, Apple CarPlay, cruise control and parking sensors as standard. Admittedly, there are better-equipped cars for the cash; however, options are reasonable and our latest long-termer is fitted with just under £4,000 worth of them.
We've added important safety features like park assist and a rear-view camera, both very keenly priced at just £150 and £350 respectively, and also opted for adaptive cruise control at £375, another must for many fleets today.
The Technology Pack is the most expensive option at £1,395 and incorporates some of our favourite features introduced to Audi cars over the past couple of years, including the excellent Virtual Cockpit display, wireless charging and the upgraded sat-nav system.
Early impressions of the 1.4-litre petrol under the bonnet of the car are good, too. The 150hp and 250Nm of torque provide plenty of get-up-and-go, while the seven-speed S-Tronic gearbox seems well matched and timely in its gearchanges. We've only driven the car a few miles so far, so it'll be interesting to find out just how versatile the engine is over longer distances and more challenging terrain than the flatlands of Lincolnshire. The ride has been the biggest surprise, though, proving very comfortable despite sitting on 18in alloys.
The engine is fitted with clever 'cylinder on demand' technology, which deactivates two of the engines four cylinders when not required, helping to keep running costs low. The figures in question are 52.3mpg on the official NEDC combined cycle and 123g/km, meaning a 23% BIK tax band until April this year - very competitive numbers overall.
Practicality is seemingly the Q2's biggest downfall, though. At 4.19m long, it's 13cm shorter than the A3 hatchback sibling with which it shares its mechanical underpinnings; however, the Q2 actually offers a boot that is 25 litres bigger than the A3. At 405 litres, it is still small for its class, but should prove big enough for most small families.
It's early days in our six-month custodianship with the Q2 but so far it's proving to be a little ray of sunshine on the BusinessCar fleet. We're looking forward to finding out how it fares under all sorts of everyday life scenarios and to see if there's anything that can take the shine out of that bright yellow paintwork.
Audi Q2 1.4TFSI 150 S-Tronic S Line
P11D price: £28,795
As tested: £32,620
Official consumption: 52.3mpg
Our average consumption: N/A
Standard equipment: LED headlights, front sports seats, sat-nav, Audi Drive Select, Apple CarPlay, parking sensors, cruise control, air-con, part-leather upholstery
Options: Vegas Yellow Solid paintwork (£550), adaptive cruise control (£375), Comfort and Sound Pack (£995), sports steering wheel (£150), park assist (£150), rear-view camera (£350), Technology Pack (£1,395)