IN FOCUS

RAISE A TOAST

We head out in the new Audi Q2 to visit one of London's most innovative craft-beer breweries

WRITER Emma Barlow

PHOTOGRAPHER Fred MacGregor

In the past, ale tended to be the preserve of men of a certain age, but if you've spent any time in a pub recently then chances are you will have come across a new generation of lovingly created craft beers behind the bar. Over the past couple of years a new breed of ale drinker – and brewer – has been emerging. I jumped in the new Audi Q2 Sport 1.4 TFSI to visit one such brewer, Toast Ale.

At the Temple Brew House in central London, Vanesa Le Blas and Rob Wilson showed us how this tasty pale ale is created using surplus bread – a foodstuff that is wasted in shocking amounts. 'There's about a million tonnes of bread wasted each year worldwide,' Rob says. In fact about a third of the food produced and sold around the world is wasted, and this is why all profits from Toast Ale are donated to Feedback, a charity fighting against food waste.

I offer to do a pick-up from the sandwich shop nearby, where Rob and Vanesa get their bread, as there is plenty of room in the Q2's square, flat-bottomed 405-litre boot (and even more if I fold down the back seats, which stretches the capacity to a highly impressive 1050 litres).

Vanesa tells us more about the process of making Toast Ale, the last batch of which was created using 88kg of surplus fresh bread. 'The malted barley contains enzymes and these break the starch in the bread into sugars, then later they eat the sugar and produce alcohol and CO2 gas,' she says. 'Each bottle ends up containing about one slice of bread.' It gives the beer a rich, malty and – unsurprisingly – bready taste.

Obviously I can't taste the beer there and then, so I bid farewell to Rob and Vanesa and take a couple of bottles for sampling later. The Q2 looks perfectly at home parked on the small side street by the microbrewery. With a height of 1.51m, it's just 10cm taller than the Audi A1. But as the latest member of Audi's Q family,

which includes the Q3, Q5 and Q7, it's equally at home outside the city. Indeed, before my jaunt around the capital I drove the Q2 through the Suffolk countryside, where it handled the lumps and bumps of the country lanes with aplomb.

The range features a choice of 1.0 TFSI 116PS and 1.4 TFSI 150PS petrol engines, plus 1.6 TDI 116PS and 2.0 TDI 150PS turbodiesel units, the latter also being available with quattro all-wheel drive. The Q2 is Audi's most customisable car, with a huge number of equipment packages, exterior and interior paint colours, upholstery and trim combinations for customers to choose from. One of the most innovative options is the new LED interior lighting pack advanced, which brings the cabin alive at night.

As I drive the Q2 across town to my flat, I muse that it might be the perfect car for the craft beer generation. The Q2 has unique appeal, with its mould-breaking styling, premium-quality cabin and superior technology. Whether you're driving it in the heart of the city, or miles from anywhere and anyone, it offers the performance and handling you'd expect of an Audi Q model. And, like the Toast Ale I'll be enjoying later, it's the result of intelligent thinking, precision craftsmanship, and a passion for innovation.

AUDI Q2 SPORT 1.4 TFSI

Price from £24,400 OTR
Engine 1.4 TFSI 150PS
Transmission six-speed manual
Drivetrain front wheel drive
0-62mph 8.5 secs
Top speed 131mph
Efficiency 

51.4mpg combined*,

124g/km C02*

*Standard EU test figure for comparative purposes and may not reflect real driving results. With 17-inch wheels