New Audi right on Q

Audi Q2 Sport, 2016, front, cornering
Audi Q2 Sport, 2016, side, cornering
Audi Q2 Sport, 2016, rear, cornering
Audi Q2 Sport, 2016, interior
Audi Q2 Sport, 2016, boot
Audi Q2 Sport, 2016, display screen
Audi Q2 Sport, 2016, rear seats
Audi Q2 Sport, 2016, rear pillar
Audi Q2 Sport, 2016, trim

YOU could be forgiven for believing that there's no room in the car park for yet another small SUV or crossover.

Britain's fastest growing sector is brimming with shiny, tall faux four-wheel-drives that boast outdoor looks and hatchback handling.

But, wait a minute. Audi, never one to miss an opportunity or a gap in the market, this month launches its smallest ever SUV. And unlike some of the opposition, it even has the option of all-wheel drive.

The Ingolstadt firm sees its Q2 as a new entry point into quattro motoring, and believes it helps establish a sub-niche for prestige compact crossovers. Maybe BMW would dispute this, since they got there first with the MINI Countryman.

But Audi's blend of style, quality cabin design and refinement is certain to hold strong appeal to the iPad generation.

All the goodies and gizmos featured in its bigger brothers, such as virtual reality cockpit, are offered in the Q2.

Other possible rivals include the Renault Captur, Peugeot 2008, Jeep Renegade and Nissan Juke. But they are largely a tad cheaper than the Q2's £20,230 starting price.

Space-wise the new Audi is 200mm shorter than a Q3 but larger than either the current Juke or Countryman. Despite the compact external dimensions - and a relatively low roofline by crossover standards - luggage space is generous at 405 litres, slightly larger than an A3.

It is a genuine four-seater but shoulder room and leg room in the rear are somewhat tight.

There are the usual array of engine options ranging from VW Group's 1.0-litre three-cylinder, which will be available at the end of the year, to the ubiquitous 148bhp, 2.0 TDI unit that powers so many of the group's models.

Unusually, the engine expected to be best seller is a petrol version - the 1.4TFSI, a sporty four-cylinder that knocks out 148bhp. Quattro four wheel drive is available on the 2.0 TDI now, and a 2.0-litre petrol version will have it next year.

As you'd expect, the cabin is a lesson in quality and style and very similarly laid out to more costly Audis. There's all the tech and connectivity you could wish for, and apart from the reduced dimensions it feels just like an A4... or even an A6.

There are bags of opportunity for exterior personalisation over and above the dark cladding featured on the SE and Sport versions.

The rear body pillars - Audi calls them ‘floating blades' - can be specified is different colours in the same way found in the R8 supercar's side panels are picked out.

A drive on Suffolk's fairly deserted and well-maintained roads showed the 1.4 TFSI to be a nimble performer with strong through-the-gears acceleration and a level of quietness and refinement better than most opposition. Sixty-two comes up in little more than eight seconds and maximum is 130mph.

It sticks well to the Tarmac with just moderate roll and the ride, even on bigger 18-in wheels fitted to the S line version, is comfortable and compliant. Steering is a rather numb, but that tends to be an Audi trait.

Despite the 1.4's generous power output, fuel consumption is miserly, partly thanks to the cylinder-on-demand technology which cuts the second and third cylinders when coasting or driving lightly.

The six speed manual manages 52.3mpg combined and the seven-speed S tronic 54.3mpg. Price of the 1.4 TFSI S tronic is £27,045.

A further 10mpg can be squeezed out of the 1.6 TDI which is priced at £21,795. With plenty of mid-range poke and acceleration to 62mph in 10.3 seconds this version is a good blend of cheap motoring alongside strong performance. Although the engine isn't as modern as the TFSI unit it is quieter and smoother than most diesel rivals.

With Audi's unquestionable ability to spot a niche and take advantage of it, few would doubt the Q2's success.

However some buyers, many of whom are females, may wish that the Q2 had the ride-height and over-the-hedge visibility of some rivals - often a leading reason for choosing an SUV.

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