Don’t get me wrong, I really like driving vans – the bigger the better. However, I didn’t do a car diary last week because, with one exception, I only drove vans – which may not be the most interesting thing to write about (unless of course its a VW Transporter Kombi!). The exception to the van fest was another Mercedes C350e saloon plug-in hybrid and plenty of ramblings on this eco-wagon can be found here. For the record, the (ahem) green, planet-saving wheeled warrior managed 40.9 miles per gallon on a steady 55 mile run (mostly motorway) compared to the official figure of 134.5 mpg.
This week looked as if it was heading the same way (i.e. all vans) but things changed when the VW Transporter I thought I was going to deliver on Friday turned out to be an Audi Q2:-
Tuesday: Vauxhall (Opel) Corsa 1.4 SRi (hire car), Leicester to Southampton and back to deliver a Vauxhall Combo van – about four miles across Southampton!
Wednesday: Vauxhall Corsa van 1.3CDTi Sportive, Bolton to Middlesbrough; old Vauxhall Corsa van 1.3CDTi (2014), Middlebrough to Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire
Thursday: Ford Transit Custom, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire to Bristol
Friday: Audi Q2 2.0TDi Quattro S-Line S Tronic (auto), Alconbury, Cambridgeshire to Colchester, Essex.
So, an Audi Quattro! Not really, obviously. Four wheel drive versions of Audi’s offerings have simply borrowed the hallowed Quattro label from the original and legendary fire-breathing, rally-bred Audi Quattro. Couldn’t imagine Detective Chief Inspector Gene Hunt (Life on Mars, Ashes to Ashes) growling “Fire up the Quattro!” and then jumping into a modern little SUV.
However, he could do much worse. If you want an upmarket, smallish but practical car, then the Q2 seems a good bet … if you have the money (more on that later). The Q2 is described as an SUV but, to be honest, it doesn’t really look or feel like one. It’s a bit like a family hatchback that’s drunk lots of milk. Did you know the Dutch are the tallest people on earth? I used to travel to the Netherlands quite frequently on business and in office canteens at lunch time, the Dutch would all be drinking milk. So, I’m guessing there’s a link between height and milk (standing on a milk crate would prove this theory). Anyway, back to the Audi milk float, I mean Q2, which is really just a slightly taller, A3/Golf-sized hatchback with a larger boot (in fact, I think the Q2’s footprint is slightly smaller than the Golf’s). The Q2 doesn’t look like an off-roader if that’s what the SUV appellation is supposed to imply. However, in the looks department, it’s smart but not ground-breaking and has an upmarket air about it. The matt grey rear pillars (reminiscent of the side panels on the Mk1 Audi R8) are a neat touch.
Inside, its smart too – as you would expect from an Audi. And the top of the range version I delivered had a couple of extras. One was the virtual cockpit where you pay more for an electronic instrument display that impersonates traditional dials that you could get for free (provided you’ve purchased the rest of the car). Too much cynicism, Colin; actually the electronics look quite posh and futuristic. The other option was the wireless phone charger which does seem very handy. Just pair your phone and pop it in the cubby hole under the centre armrest and it magically charges without the need for you to untangle any cables, plug it in or swear when you get to end of your long journey and realise that your phone hasn’t charged at all because, despite being plugged into the socket, you didn’t give the charger that two degree turn to the right that it needed to make contact (grrr, that’s so annoying, take a breath now).
So what is the Q2 like to drive? Well I’m afraid I only really drove it in straight lines but it did do that rather well. Actually, driving in straight lines to Colchester was quite appropriate because the town has a significant Roman history, having at one time been the capital of Roman Britain. At the time, the town was called Camelodunum which is impossible to say at the first attempt and sounds like a Victorian opium-based medicine for humped ungulates. The Emperor Ian Claudius (I can’t think what else the “I” in I, Claudius could stand for) stepped off the Calais to Dover ferry in 43AD and personally led the attack on Colchester before bringing underfloor heating to the masses of Provincia Britannia (Vorsprung durch hypercaust). And of course the Romans had a fondness for travelling in straight lines but I don’t think they built the A14, M11 or A120. In Colchester however, they did build a fortress, temples, a chariot circus (they liked a bit of high speed slapstick), theatres and no doubt a lot more. The sign telling me that I had arrived in Colchester also claimed that it is the oldest recorded town in Britain. Would probably be more impressive if it was the undisputed oldest town in Britain. In the modern day Colchester, you can still see parts of Roman walls dotted around plus there is a museum based in the largely complete and large Norman castle (built on the foundations of a Roman temple) and the renowned Beth Chatto gardens. Ooh, there is a zoo as well where you will probably find some dizzy ungulates (that word again – look it up).
Anyway, I have digressed again; milk and Romans can be so distracting. The Q2 was absolutely fine cruising at 70mph on the motorway. Road noise was ever present, as it is in almost every car except the most expensive, but it only became intrusive on the roughest surfaces. When cruising, the engine was quiet but typically dieselly (new word) under acceleration. On the few occasions I did turn the steering wheel, every indication was that the steering would be pleasingly direct and accurate if you pressed on through some twisty bits. And I strongly suspect the four wheel drive would provide all the grip you would need when called upon. Incidentally, four wheel drive and a seven speed automatic gearbox are standard (or compulsory would be another way of looking at it) if you want the 2.0TDi engine in your Q2. Front wheel drive and a six speed manual box are available with the less powerful engine options and since the 150hp 2.0TDi weighs in at more than £29,000, there are opportunities for saving some money if you fancy a Q2. The cheapest Q2 (1.0T petrol, front wheel drive, manual) would save you £8,000 or 444 denarii (based on the estimated purchasing power of the denarius at the end of the Roman Empire) or between 16,326 and 17,777 pints of milk (depending on whether you shop at Waitrose or Aldi). Quids in tuus pocitus.