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Cars long ago ceased to be simply a means of getting from A to B. The new Audi Q2, for instance, is 'the latest tool for modern living,' according to its maker.

If that sounds about as emotionally involving as a plate of cold bratwurst, consider that this smallest SUV in the Audi range is also 'an essential life prop.'

Peer through those lifestyle utterings and you'll find a car that deserves better than phrases that mean an empty nothing; it's a good drive and will sell in shedloads.

In fact, Audi reckons it will become the fourth best seller in its UK line up, with around 15,000 of them finding homes here each year (FYO; the A3 is top of the sales chart with double that number), but don't bet on Q2 numbers climbing.

Worldwide, around half of all new Audis are now SUVs, headed by the huge and faintly menacing bulk of the Q7, with the Q5 and Q3 following in descending size order.

Now the Q2 doorstops the Audi SUVs with a car that manages to look chunky and tough without the visual thuggery of its older siblings.

It also starts at the moment with £22,380 for a 1.4 litre petrol version, which looks positively bargain basement in Audi terms.

And, before year end, there'll be an even cheaper 1.0 litre petrol model that will cost just £20,230 in entry level SE trim.

The current Q2 engine choice is between the 150 horsepower 1.4 TFSI or a 116 horsepower 1.6 litre TDI diesel with the latter a scant £100 dearer in all the three trim levels on offer– SE, Sport and S line.

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Only 15 per cent of Q2 owners are likely to take their car at SE level, with most heading for the £1,550 dearer Sport models that add satellite navigation, cruise control, bigger alloy wheels, sports front seats, auto lights and wipers, a choice of four driving modes (which will stiffen the suspension, for instance) and modest bodywork changes to tell the cars apart.

Pay another £2,250 and you arrive at the S line, expected to woo a significant 40 per cent of sales with changes that include powerful LED headlights and rear lights but are mostly cosmetic and add a bit of the visual aggression of bigger Audi SUVs, from enlarged front air intakes to sculpted side sills.

If that's not enough, there is the Q2 Edition #1, starting at £31,170 and topping out at £35,730 for a 2.0 litre diesel with quattro four-wheel drive. Stand out features are special Quantum grey paint, black alloy wheels and other black body parts adding a touch of menace.

Inside, you'll find sports seats in soft nappa leather and an LED package that includes dash and door inlays that light up softly.

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Every Q2 has what Audi calls a C-pillar blade but you might know as the bit behind the rear doors. It comes here in four different, contrasting colours (grey, silver, titanium ot grey) depending on the grade of the car.

Standard kit across the range includes low speed automatic braking if you're not paying attention and extra cash brings an instrument panel with TV screen definition, head-up display and adaptive cruise control that will take most of the drudgery out of slow speed driving by stopping and starting the car in line with the traffic ahead.

Audi sees the MINI Countryman as a key competitor and a comparison shows how relatively small the Q2 is, at 4191mm nose to tail only 94mm (or less than four inches) longer and a little lower and lighter and larger of boot into the bargain. It doesn't look that small, and drives like a larger car too. If Audi was once knocked soundly for building cars with suspension too stiff for British roads (it was and it did) that no longer applies with the Q2.

Tellingly, the Q2 in its most overtly 'sporty' S line guise comes with non-sport springing but can be stiffened at no extra cost. The test car had been, yet drove some indifferent Suffolk roads with controlled aplomb.

The 1.4 TFSI petrol engine, matched to a fine 7-speed automatic gearbox (£1,550 extra) punted the car along very nicely indeed and showed 42.2mpg at journey's end.

A 1.6 diesel tried in most softly sprung SE trim actually coped markedly less well with poor roads, feeling stiff and unyielding at times. It also made more engine noise but pulled strongly and topped 55mpg on the same route.

Either engine sits nicely in a car that has hit the madly expanding desire for SUVs at precisely the right time, and at prices that are going to raise eyebrows – for the right reason.

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