Here’s the Audi Q2, Ingolstadt’s Mini Countryman Rival
Audi’s bid for the modern urban hipster who needs 7.9 inches of ground clearance.
When BMW’s Mini Countryman first landed in showrooms circa 2011, the idea of a Mini crossover seemed ridiculous to the automotive intelligentsia. Minis were, well, mini—two-door city cars designed to slide comfortably down narrow European alleys, wedge into Lilliputian parking spaces, and zip through the occasional sewer tunnel. They weren’t meant to be four-door vehicles with off-road pretensions. And yet the buying public ate ‘em up like crack-filled hotcakes; the Countryman rocketed into the number two spot in the Mini sales figures. Germany's big three automakers never leave any niche uncontested. So, if anything, we should be surprised that it took Audi this long to haul out the new Q2, which is about as clear-cut a Countryman competitor as Audi could build without breaking copyright law.
One hundred sixty four-inches long, six feet wide, five feet tall: The Q2’s dimensions are within inches of the Countryman. (The Audi does takes it on ground clearance, though, riding 1.6 inches higher.) While porting traditional Mini styling to a crossover leaves the Countryman looking bloated, the Q2’s proportions take to Audi’s design cues easily. The domineering single-frame grille, bright-eyed headlamps, and hippy rear wheel arches play well, simultaneously playing up its compact size and its youthful pretensions. The contrasting D-pillar is a neat tweak on the “floating roof” design; rendered in silver, it’s reminiscent of the dearly departed “side blade” on the last-generation R8. In (what we hope is) Audi’s attempt to throw some shade on Mini, the Q2's front bumper’s hint of an underbite has a bit of bulldog to it.
Audi's also playing up the myriad ways buyers can personalize their cute ute. Kooky trim colors and LED interior lighting packages are available, plus a catalog of electronic goodies. An MMI infotainment system, in-car Wi-Fi, and automatic emergency braking all come standard, the latter entry presumably a result of millennials being distracted by the first two features. Options include the super-cool 12.3-inch virtual cockpit from the new R8 and TT, touchpad controls, and a self-parking system, which can also extricate the car from a space if you’re just that lazy.
Engine options? Six in total, at least for European markets, three gas and three diesel. The 2.0-liter turbo four, good for 190 horsepower, seems like the obvious choice for the American market. Ditto the hydraulic multi-plate clutch all-wheel drive system. Europe gets the choice between a six-speed stick and a seven-speed dual clutch gearbox. We’ll probably only see the latter, because American legs are for ass-kicking, not for clutching.
The Q2 goes on sale in Europe this fall. Expect to see it in the U.S. as soon as Audi is physically able.