Car Review: Here's a Car Worth Saving Your First Paychecks For
When young professionals first start making money, their first big spend will invariably be either a downpayment on a home, or a car. Those choosing to buy a car will no doubt base their decision on factors such as function, reliability, and, of course, cost.
Here in the Philippines, Japanese and, to a lesser extent, Korean-made brands, are often the top choice for first-time car buyers, and many are now choosing to go with SUVs or crossovers, partly to overcome difficulties in driving on paved but pockmarked city roads, and partly to experience the agility and performance they just can’t get in a regular sedan. And, again, compared with European manufacturers, they’re just more affordable.
But if cost is a secondary concern, there are more upscale choices, too. This segment of car buyers is exactly what German carmaker Audi is targeting with their subcompact crossover, the Q2. Audi’s range includes a full line of premium sedans (the As) as well as SUVs (the Qs), and the Q2 is perhaps the model that most closely links one to the other. When a young up-and-coming junior executive or business owner is ready to take the plunge and invest in a German-made automobile, and one that possesses the best qualities of sedans and SUVs, the Q2 is an ideal candidate.
Audi calls the Q2 “untaggable” in its ad campaigns, and on a recent test drive, I understood why. Slightly bigger and higher than a regular sedan, too cute to be a full SUV, with qualities of a hatchback and a sports car, the Q2 is many things at once. Thus, trying to define it with one moniker may prove futile. Still, it’s a vehicle that is as attractive as it is functional.
It was pouring the morning I took it out for a quick day trip to Tagaytay. Unlike higher models in the Q line, the Q2’s seats are adjusted manually. Find your ideal sitting and driving position and you’ll only need to do it once. The infotainment display system is simple and easy to navigate, but, if you’re used to the tech-savvy Audi range, is pretty basic. This is, after all, the closest Audi comes to an entry-level SUV, so it’s understandable. Still, when you can hook up your phone to the car’s infotainment system through USB or via Bluetooth, that’s all you really ever need.
The interiors are pretty roomy, enough for grown adults to sit comfortably in the front (not sure about knee room in the back though, I wasn’t able to get anyone to sit back there during the drive).
Powering the Q2 is a 1.0 liter three-cylinder inline turbocharged gas engine with direct fuel injection. Audi says it can deliver a max output of 116 horsepower and 200 Nm of torque. On paper (or on screen) it may not sound like much, but on the road, the Q2 was quick and responsive, nimbly overtaking other vehicles in the elevated portions of the getaway city. It’s the kind of engine you know you won’t have trouble with in the city, and you can feel comfortable with enough on country roads.
Even with the roads slick and muddy because of the nonstop rains, I hardly noticed: the drive was firm and steady throughout. In fact, it was no-nonsense and straightforward, with the Q2 small enough to weave in and out effortlessly through light traffic in Tagaytay but big enough not to be bullied by other vehicles. It probably also helped that other cars were intimidated by the four rings logo of the Ingolstadt-based carmaker.
Although the unit I test drove was the 2019 Q2, Audi Philippines says the newer, 2020 model has recently become available. Enhancements include the Audi Virtual Cockpit, a version of the digital dashboard located in the driver's front display; an ambient lighting package; Multi Media Interface (MMI) navigation; and cruise control. Infotainment functions and driver information are displayed in brilliant high resolution, with two different layouts possible at the touch of a button. For the full infotainment experience, the seven-inch high resolution colored MMI display is positioned up high on the instrument panel which can be operated by a rotary/push-button control and two buttons on the center tunnel. Best of all, the system is now compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
As for safety features and driver assistance systems, Audi says the new Q2 is equipped with cruise control, speed limiter, electronic stabilization control, electro mechanical parking brake, antilock braking system, airbag for driver, passenger and side airbags in front with curtain bag.
While it’s nice to experience drives with fancy tech, blinding-fast speeds and eye-popping exterior design, there’s nothing wrong with going back to basics when you’re on the lookout for a dependable, everyday drive that you can just as easily take on spontaneous, out-of-town excursions. The Q2 checks all of the boxes and should be a top contender when you’re ready to upgrade to something a bit fancier than what’s available on the market today.