Wirries says: “Audi are well known for using aluminium in vehicles, but this is all steel. In the A3 we have several parts which are aluminium, such as the front body, and while the Q2 is completely steel we did lower the weight with other measures.
“We did things in different ways. Some parts in the front of the body have been built up in a different way. So we didn’t need some of the measures we have in the A3, which saved us several kilograms. It’s step-by-step work.”
And Wirries is happy with the result. The 1-litre engine and manual transmission variant weighs 1,205kg, aided greatly by the use of hot-shaped steels that give the passenger cell a strong backbone and high rigidity. “While the A3 is a little bit lighter, that’s because of its lower body. The weight difference is just 60kg between A3 and the Q2,” he says.
And Wirries says that the development of the vehicle’s body-in-white was perhaps the most challenging part of the programme. “Because we have new structures and forming techniques, fulfilling Audi’s quality standards for these parts – so if you look on the side every corner fits to the other one – was really a hard process,” he says.
After this, the second biggest challenge was reaching the aerodynamics targets.
Driving the Q2 on the roads surrounding Zurich, the lack of weight in the vehicle was noticeable as it had the feel of its sibling compact A3. Which is what consumers want, even from an SUV.
Although the Q2 isn’t the largest SUV, its taller profile means that drag will be higher than in a vehicle such as the A3. But the engineering team put considerable effort into optimising airflow over the vehicle. The Q2 has a drag coefficient of 0.30.
Wirries says: “We did several things: the blade and the C-pillar are part of the optimisation. At the tail-light we have a special corner to optimise flow, and the underbody is almost completely closed – just the exhaust parts are open.” On certain specifications there are also air curtains for the front wheels, and Wirries says that the team closed the grille as much as possible, depending on the engine. But active aerodynamics technology wasn’t on the agenda.
“We did look at it, but we didn’t need it to improve the Cd value so we didn’t use it,” he says. But one technology that the development team did look to was simulation to meet targets. “It’s more important because the engineering time gets shorter,” says Wirries. “We do simulations from the beginning. We check them against our prototypes and see if the simulation is on the right track.”
That not only helped to reduce the time it took to finish the development programme, but also cut costs as fewer prototype vehicles were required. The same thing is happening throughout the industry.
Even though the car has now been unveiled and is heading to dealerships, the work isn’t over. More homologation work needs to be done. And, not only to carve the Q2’s niche but also to grow its market share, engineers will need to increase its efficiency further without sacrificing performance. So further down the line you could easily imagine a plug-in variant of the Q2.