The invite to the launch of any new (or even updated) Audi vehicle always brings on a sense of excitement. You can be relatively sure it’s going to be stylish and good looking (inside and out), it’s going to be technologically advanced, prestigious and undoubtedly well designed to fit the market perfectly. So you can imagine how I felt being invited to see the launch of two!
The location was a trendy cafe in the heart of windy Wellington and Audi had plenty of surprises up their sleeves. We arrived in time for Brunch and a raft of entree style posh nosh came out, each with their own hashtag flag description, in fact the entire venue was covered with hashtags (I’ll get to the reason behind this soon).
While we ate, the team told us all about the all new Q2. The Q2 joins at the smallest end of Audi’s impressive Q family. It fits in as an ‘Urban SUV’ as it is compact and sporty and loaded with technology but despite Audi knowing WHERE it fits in their lineup, they find it harder to truly label WHAT it is, thus deeming it ‘untaggable’ and hence the array of hashtags around the venue. The Q2 is modern in its design, with a lean towards a coupe and a polygonal (yep I had to look this up too) flow to its profile lines. The wheel arches have been emphasised and combined with wedge-shaped LED headlights and the high position of the Singleframe grille it gives off quite the powerful roadside presence. It also has an eye catching C-Pillar blade that has 4 contrast colour options.
Although its exterior size (4.19M) deems it a compact SUV; it has more than ample room (1050 Litres – seats down) on the inside for weekend adventures. It has all the driver assistance tech (Pre Sense City, Parking aid, Side assist, Cruise control and more) to make city driving a pleasure with a respectable ground clearance (15cm) and torquey 1.4L TFSI for the open road. The Q2 is city vehicle that yearns for the countryside, in short, it’s an all rounder and that’s what makes it that little bit untaggable.
To show off its true urbaness, the Audi team gave us a challenge of visiting some key Wellington sights and grabbing some pics with a giant hashtag. Weta studio, Mt Victoria, The Beehive etc, all needed to be experienced and with imaginative photographic proof. It took us through the tight city streets and round the Basin Reserve more than once. However; the task was made easier by Audi’s amazing voice command navigation. A few well chosen words meant that us Wellington city novices could route plan with ease.
With the challenges all completed; we went on a scenic trek out to Martinborough and to Peppers resort to relax after such a very busy day. Dinner gave us a chance to discuss the merits of the Q2 (there were many) and prizes were given out for best pictures – We got second place in case you were interested.
The Q2 felt comfortable in the city environment, it has just the right amount of height (1.5M) to handle the likes of traffic visibility and awareness, while the 1.4L engine had plenty of torque (250Nm/110kW) for the out of town run up and through the Rimutaka’s.
After a great night’s sleep and a dip in the room’s Spa Tub it was back to the briefing room for information on the new S4.
Apparently the S4 is considered the stepping stone to the RS but either Audi didn’t get the memo or things have just got a lot hotter in the world of Audi Sport (I think it’s the latter). The Audi S4 now has a newly developed twin-scroll turbocharged V6 3L TFSI brute of an engine that produces 260kW and a whopping 500Nm of Torque. The sedan’s 0-100kph time is 4.7 seconds (the same as the outgoing RS4) with the Avant a mere .2 of a second behind. It is of course quattro permanent all-wheel drive so it is more than capable of handling virtually whatever you throw at it (especially with all the driver aids turned on – 13 of them as standard!). It has an 8 speed tiptronic auto box that can also be controlled by paddles if you want (and I wanted).
The S4 is still a luxurious but sporty tourer, plenty of room for 5 adults and plenty of prestige to satisfy the pickiest of individuals. Nappa Leather fills the cabin with its deep and inviting aroma and the S4 boasts a leather-trimmed 3-spoke sport steering while matt brushed aluminium and piano black fill in the rest of the story. Outside it now has as standard, LED headlights, and round the rear the LED taillights have dynamic turn signal.
The information on the upgrades and improvements were all well and good, but what we really wanted to do was drive. The route back to Wellington would take us through Akatarawa forest and along Paekakariki Hill Road (it’s an excellent road). We grabbed the keys to the Avant and headed to the hills.
On the highway, the S4 is a luxury cruiser. Its ride is smooth and comfortable and the massage function on the fronts seats makes long drives a real pleasure. But all things being equal, it’s the tight twisting ribbons of roads where the S4 comes into its own. I paddled that V6 up and down the hill to the coast, letting the V6 roar its lungs out and it felt exhilarating. Given its size, it really shouldn’t handle the way it does but fact is the quattro system and its torque vectoring, loves winding roads.
Dropping the S4 back at the Audi dealership in Wellington was quite deflating, however I am reliably informed that I will be getting some more review time in both cars.
Both the Q2 and the S4 could be classed as category stepping stones. The Q2 gets you into the SUV arena offering charming city chic and out of town functionality, while the S4 takes you on a giant leap towards the breathtaking world of Audi Sport. In my opinion, with these two vehicles, Audi have blurred the lines between One small step and One giant leap.
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