Audi SQ2 review
If you want performance, but also the raised driving position and butch looks of an SUV, then the Audi SQ2 will be for you. It’s pricey, though and not the most practical choice inside.
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Back in the 1980s, the humble hot hatch was the go-to car if you wanted to combine fun with practicality. In many ways the Audi SQ2 is your modern-day equivalent, combining performance with the chunky SUV looks and raised driving position many crave today. Oh, and, strictly speaking, it’s still a hatchback.
But it isn’t revolutionary – there are other small performance SUVs that could tempt you away. These include cars like the BMW X2 M235i, Cupra Ateca and Mini Countryman Cooper S.
The Audi SQ2 sits at the top of the Q2 range, getting a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine that produces 300hp and Audi’s famous Quattro all-wheel drive. That gives the SQ2 an impressive 0-62mph time of 4.8 seconds and will take it on to a limited 155mph top speed. And to keep it from rolling around too much in the corners, Audi has lowered the SQ2’s suspension slightly compared with the rest of the Q2 range.
The result is a small SUV that’s genuinely engaging to drive. The SQ2 offers enough performance to excite and makes an addictive thrum when accelerating hard. Its standard seven-speed does dither at low speeds and when trying to change down a gear using the paddles when driving quickly, but the rest of the time it flicks between gears promptly and smoothly.
This isn’t a one-trick pony, though – the SQ2 has bags of grip and its steering is light but precise. The combination of that power and confidence-inspiring grip means you’ll have great fun pushing it hard around country-road corners without worrying about any sudden unpredictability. Ultimately, it’s more fun that both the Mini or Cupra.
The good news is that the SQ2 will also play the relaxing SUV when you want it to. Switching back from its focused Sport driving mode to Comfort relaxes the accelerator and gearbox and lightens the steering. Its modest dimensions make it easy to thread through town, there isn’t much wind or road noise on the motorway and despite feeling firmer over bumps than regular Q2s, it’s never outright uncomfortable, even on its standard 18-inch alloy wheels.
Yet another performance SUV. It’s not surprising manufacturers are following the money, but just bear in mind that the cheaper hatchback S3 equivalent is even more fun to drive.
Inside you’ll find Audi’s traditionally solid build quality and expensive-feeling materials, but the infotainment situation is less impressive. There’s nothing wrong with the way the standard 7-inch screen and rotary controller work – in fact, Audi’s MMI system is one of the better systems on sale – but it’s disappointing that on this range-topping model you still have to add Audi’s expensive Technology package as an option
And you’ll want to, because it brings a bigger 8-inch infotainment screen as well as Audi’s brilliant Virtual Cockpit digital dials, lifting the cabin further. At least Bluetooth, sat-nav and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are all included as standard.
The SQ2’s front sports seats are comfy and space in the back is okay for two tall adults, but you’ll soon hear complaints if you squeeze three adults back there. Those upright rear seat-backs means your passengers can’t fully relax on long trips, too. On the plus side you can fit loads of stuff in the Audi Q2’s boot, and if you flip the rear seats down there’s enough room to carry a bike with both its wheels attached. Even so, there are small SUVs with more space for people and luggage if that’s what you care about most.
On that note, the Audi SQ2 competes directly with the BMW X2 M235i on price, but it’s more expensive than a Mini Countryman Cooper S and Cupra Ateca, both of which offer more space and similar pace. As such, the SQ2 undeniably expensive for both a Q2 and performance SUV, while the elephant in the room is that Audi’s cheaper S3 hatchback is more practical and even more fun to drive.
Still, SUVs are popular and the SQ2’s high-quality interior and smile-inducing drive go some way to making up for its hefty price tag and stingy infotainment.