Compact luxury cars. It’s a new, emerging niche with luxury brands launching entry-level models that are small in size but not so small in price. The recently launched BMW 2 Series Gran Coupé and Audi Q2 are expensive when you consider their ‘price-to-size’ ratios, a measure of value for most Indian car buyers, and this limits their popularity. But these models are also the most affordable luxury cars which makes them the first opportunity for many to own a luxury brand, value be damned. The important thing is that, size apart, they need to feel like a luxury car in terms of looks, performance, quality and features.
Bold, new look
That’s exactly what the recently launched Audi Q2 sets out to achieve in a bid to make its hefty price, which starts at Rs 34.99 lakh for the standard variant, stretching all the way to an eye-watering Rs 48.89 lakh for the top-end version, digestible.
But uniqueness is something a lot of customers are willing to pay extra for, which bodes well for the Q2 that looks quite different from the rest of Audi’s Q or SUV range. So, while the larger Audi SUVs like the Q7, Q5 and Q3 look like enlarged (or shrunken) versions of each other, the Q2 has been designed with a different pen and looks a lot more avante garde. Sure, the understated character is still there, but the body looks more chiseled with ultra sharp creases, chamfered shoulders and a tightly cut grille. The sloping roofline and raised bumper kind of squishes the rear and makes the Q2 look more crossover than pure SUV, but overall, the Q2 has a bold, new look and it’s hard to believe this model was launched internationally around four years ago. It still looks fresh and modern.
The driver is greeted with excellent seating position, superb forward visibility and comfy seat— making the Q2 a lovely driver’s car
That freshness is carried over into the cabin as well, which has a nice vibe. The dashboard is a bit minimalist, but the design is contemporary and reeks of quality. In fact, the fit and finish, the solid buttons, the rotary vents, and the chunky flat-bottomed steering wheel feel like they belong in more expensive Audis.
Giving away the Q2’s age is the infotainment system, which uses Audi’s older MMI display. The graphics look dated and there’s no touchscreen, which is something you get in hatchbacks today. But what is a shocking omission is the absence of powered seats and anyone paying upwards of Rs 40 lakh for a car won’t like the ignominy of having to manual adjust this seat. Except for these glaring omissions, the Q2 is pretty well-equipped. You get Audi’s Virtual Cockpit – the configurable, fully-digital instrument panel, which is a big draw, and the 10-speaker audio system sounds absolutely brilliant. There’s a must-have sunroof too, but it isn’t very big or panoramic.
Snug as a bug
For a car that’s just 4.2 metres long, the seats, especially at the rear, are quite snug, and there’s no doubt that the cabin is short on space and the Q2 doesn’t quite work as a chauffeur-driven car. Up front, however, the driver is greeted with an excellent seating position, superb forward visibility and a comfy seat, which sets the tone for what the Q2 is – a lovely driver’s car.
Now, the 190hp 2.0 litre TSI turbo-petrol is nothing exceptional in isolation. After all, this is the same engine that, apart from other Audis, has powered a host of cars from sister brands like Skoda and VW. But it’s not the power but the weight that is the secret to the Q2’s performance. Weighing a relatively light 1,430 kg, the Q2 feels quick compared to other SUVs with similar power. The engine is really smooth and the 7-speed twin clutch gearbox is quick and jerk free, too.
The Q2 is a car you’ll just love to drive quickly. Its compact size and weight make it wonderfully agile, the smooth engine loves to be revved and the light controls make it feel smaller than it is (if that were possible). The suspension throws up a pliant and quiet ride, which contributes to the Q2’s utterly user-friendly nature.
Expensive? Most certainly. But if compactness is a virtue, and at times it truly is, the Q2 has a special appeal that you can’t overlook.
The views expressed by the columnist are personal
From HT Brunch, November 1, 2020
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