If you want hatchback practicality and driving ease, but with an SUV’s practicality and lofty driving position, there’s a brace of options out there. We pit three stand-out choices – the Audi Q2, Mini Countryman and Volvo V40 Cross Country, against each other to decide which is best. Mat Watson, carwow’s expert car reviewer, brings you his video verdict.
Audi Q2 vs Mini Countryman vs Volvo V40 Cross Country prices
The Audi is the least expensive costing from £21,360 for a 1.0-litre turbo model with 115hp and a manual gearbox. The Countryman is priced at £22,625 for a 136hp 1.5-litre turbo petrol and a manual gearbox. Finally, the Volvo V40 Cross Country is the most expensive costing from £24,015 for a 152hp petrol engine with a manual gearbox. At the time of writing, the Volvo has highest average carwow discounts of the three so could end up being more affordable than you might think.
Audi Q2 vs Mini Countryman vs Volvo V40 Cross Country styling
The Mini is stylish – looking like a jacked-up version of the firm’s smaller hatchback, but some may find its fussy exterior details a little over the top. Ironically, it’s the least ‘mini’ of the three cars here – especially compared to the comparatively compact V40.
The Audi’s styling is slightly bolder than other cars in the brand’s Q range with an exaggerated bluff grille, contrasting rear roof pillars and angular headlights. It’s not quite as flashy as the Mini with fewer badges and fake vents dotting its bodywork. Those rear roof pillars painted in a different colour might look cool but they do make the back seats feel a little claustrophobic and limit over-the-shoulder visibility.
The Volvo’s design is smart and understated, but its inoffensive shape may be a little too bland for some buyers. This Cross Country model does get some special features to elevate it from the conventional V40 hatch including a raised ride height and black plastic cladding for its bumpers to help it resemble an SUV.
Audi Q2 vs Mini Countryman vs Volvo V40 Cross Country interior
Inside, the Mini interior is the most stylish thanks to a large centrally mounted circular housing for excellent BMW-iDrive-based infotainment system and tasteful chrome detailing around the air vents. It stands out from the other two thanks to its easy-to-use central control knob and logical menu layout.
The Audi’s interior is also stylish, if a little more understated than the Mini with more black plastic elements – somewhat lifted by adjustable LED ambient lighting giving it some character. It can be specced with the firm’s 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit digital dials that lend it a very high tech feel while Audi’s MMI system is easy to use if not quite as slick the Mini’s.
The Volvo’s minimalist cabin looks dated alongside the other two cars’ tech-laden cabins – especially with its low-res infotainment system and telephone-pad-style controls in the centre console. Nevertheless, its seats are some of the comfiest you can buy in any car and there’s a respectable level of fit and finish.
Audi Q2 vs Mini Countryman vs Volvo V40 Cross Country practicality
In terms of practicality, the Mini has lots of passenger head and legroom along with optional sliding and reclining rear seats. It has the biggest boot of the three at 450 litres and it’s usefully practical with a 12V socket and an optional flip out bench seat for those impromptu car boot picnics. There are plenty of interior cubbies for your kids to lose toys in for years to come.
The Audi Q2 features a still-respectable 405-litre boot with a wide shape and only a small load lip while, for £450, you can specify electric opening to save you the effort. Rear passengers will find themselves a little more squashed than in the Mini and the lack of rear quarterlight window means it can get a bit dark and depressing back there.
Volvo passengers will find themselves cramped in the rear seats although those seats are set slightly inwards comapred to the fronts, allowing rear passengers a view out the windscreen. Its 324-litre boot is the least practical of the group, plus its small opening and big load lip makes it harder to load awkward, heavy items. The compact body also means cabin storage is minimal with door bins only just big enough for drinks bottles.
Audi Q2 vs Mini Countryman vs Volvo V40 Cross Country driving
The Mini is the most fun to drive – especially 192hp Cooper S model fitted with grippy optional four-wheel drive. Its controls respond the sharpest to inputs but the suspension is a bit on the firm side so buyers after the best cruiser should look elsewhere. There’s also a little road and wind noise at speeds that can get tiring if you don’t cover it with the stereo.
The Volvo leans more on the side of comfort with its soft suspension soaking up many of the imperfections in the road surface – there’s also a little less noise in the cabin than the other two on the move. It’s nowhere near as fun to drive as the Mini, however, with fairly lifeless controls and noticeable body roll during aggressive cornering – this is definitely a car better suited to cruising.
The Audi strikes the best balance of comfort and sportiness – it handles well while demanding little from the driver and still soaks up the bumps competently. It’s also admirably quiet on the move, helped by the pleasingly smooth and powerful engines throughout the range – especially the 1.4-litre petrol that’ll suit all but the highest mileage drivers.
Audi Q2 vs Mini Countryman vs Volvo V40 Cross Country verdict
The Volvo is good value for money with carwow’s discounts taken into account but it’s not as practical or fun-to-drive as the other two cars – best suiting those after comfort rather than fun. The Mini is fun and practical, but its firm ride and divisive looks won’t be to everyone’s liking. The Audi is a great all-rounder, blending style, practicality, comfort and driving fun into one well-built package, making it the winner of this group test.
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