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Driven: Audi SQ2. Image by Audi UK.

Driven: Audi SQ2
Could be seen as the villain of the piece regarding the death of the Audi TT. Isnít, though, as itís really rather likeable.

   



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Audi SQ2

4 4 4 4 4

Good points: handles better than most performance crossovers, looks good, solid interior finishing, stonking performance, decent comfort/refinement

Not so good: cabin looks a bit dated, cramped rear seats, does it feel different enough to an S3 Sportback?

Key Facts

Model tested: Audi SQ2
Price: Q2 range from £22,720; SQ2 from £37,370, car as tested £44,350
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic, quattro all-wheel drive
Body style: five-door performance crossover-SUV
CO2 emissions: 159g/km (VED Band 151-170: £530 in year one, then £465 per annum years two-six of ownership, then £145 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 33.2mpg
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
0-62mph: 4.8 seconds
Power: 300hp at 5,300-6,500rpm
Torque: 400Nm at 2,000-5,200rpm
Boot space: 355-1,000 litres

Our view:

Having just written a paean to the departing Audi TT and, in said piece, laid the blame for its impending demise squarely at the door of crossovers and SUVs that have killed off such stylish fast cars... here's a performance crossover, courtesy of Audi. And, if that weren't reason enough to dislike the SQ2 from the off, then there's more. It's basically a jacked-up A3 Sportback with the S3 running gear, only it's 95kg heavier than an S3 Sportback at 1,585kg, it has a higher centre-of-gravity, it's more expensive than an S3 Sportback to the tune of £350, and it doesn't seem to be packaged as well inside, if the, um, bijou rear passenger space is anything to go by.

Is the SQ2 therefore a car to be avoided at all costs? Nope, not a bit of it. And, if you'll forgive us for seemingly adding more fuel to our self-defeating fire, a big part of the SQ2's appeal is that it feels most car-like to sit in and drive. Surely, we hear you say, that the point of a crossover is to offer a higher driving position and different driving experience to the hatchback it's based on? And, you know... it's a fair point.

But that is to ignore how well the SQ2 drives. It's 20mm closer to the ground on firmer S-spec suspension than any other Q2, while its version of quattro AWD has the electronically controlled multi-plate centre clutch for fast responses. The steering is a delight, bereft of that stodge and gloop which has afflicted so many S/RS Audis in the past, and it's arguably a better set-up than on many contemporary fast Audis as well. Sure, it doesn't exactly scream feedback at its driver, but there's more than enough goodness here to feast upon if you're a keener helmsmith.

Then there's the power and performance. Any VW Group product with an EA888 in it is going to be fast, but - in order to counter the SQ2's near-1,600-kilo bulk - Audi has given it (when compared to most other applications of the powerplant) 20 additional Newton metres of torque, for a peak of 400Nm, to balance out the universe. And this works devastatingly effectively, as a bloke in a Mk7 Golf R found out to his cost on the M60 when he tried to drop the SQ2 with a burst of acceleration and discovered, much to his surprise and astonished fury, that the small, grey Audi crossover was in fact coming past him on the outside, despite his valiant efforts. That it also sounds good, albeit with perhaps the faint soupÁon of artificiality, only helps the SQ2's cause, while the S tronic gearbox is a great companion for this particular turbocharged engine. Good brakes, too, with lovely pedal modulation and plenty of reassuring bite.

Furthermore, the handling is suitably decent, with a lack of notable push-on understeer, only a limited amount of body roll (plus a bit of pitch and dive, to let you know what's going on with weight transfer), and some marginal sensation of throttle adjustability when you've got the car loaded up in a corner and you give it a lift of the loud pedal. OK, it's not the finest dynamic machine in the world, but as fast crossovers and SUVs go, the SQ2 proved to be one of the more entertaining we've sampled.

It does the comfort thing well enough, too, although a note of caution here - some find the SQ2's ride too bouncy-bouncy; nevertheless, we thought it was firm but pleasant enough. There was very little pogoing around in evidence, as you might expect from a tough-suspension car with 19-inch alloys and a short wheelbase, and only on a very few extreme occasions of rucked-up road surfacing did it feel like the damping had lost the plot. Case in point: we did nearly 530 miles in the SQ2, many of which were schlepping from the East Midlands all the way over to Anglesey and back, and it never felt like the ride was getting tiresome or annoying. A 32.2mpg average economy during that time wasn't bad, either, as we drove it pretty hard on occasion, although its best was only 34mpg on the way to Wales.

Overall, it's a really good little package. It doesn't have any of the demented lunacy of an RS Q3 Mk1, nor the assured competence and brutal punch of an SQ5 TDI - either a Mk1 or Mk2 - but as a taut, tidy, capable hot crossover, the SQ2 is really rather likeable. Especially as it looks great, most definitely so in its matte-effect Quantum Grey paint with side decals and blacked-out side blades, features which tone down the busy look of the Q2 in regular format, while the interior is nicely appointed - although it looks old-fashioned now, in the era of Audi's three-screen MMI Touch human-machine interface. A little pop-up satnav screen which slides out of the dash is so passť in 2019, daaahling.

However, it doesn't matter what we've said above if you're a hater of the crossover. You're not about to christen this thing a Golf R on stilts. But we're of the opinion it's a talented, compact performance machine, even if it's a bit pricey and a touch badly packaged. Yes, it's sad things like the TT have to make way for the SQ2, but if this is the future of high-speed crossovers then we won't be complaining too much, as it's a damned fine effort from Audi, all things considered.

Alternatives:

BMW X2 M35i: not everyone's cup of tea, this, and it's certainly not cheap, either, but with its diff-equipped front axle we really enjoyed the M35i. A bit more than the SQ2, in fairness.

Cupra Ateca: uses the same drivetrain set-up and platform arrangement as the SQ2, only seems to be better packaged in terms of rear-seat space and it's less money to boot.

Volkswagen Golf R: the T-Roc R is inbound and is the analogue of the SQ2/Cupra Ateca, but you could also have a run-out Mk7 Golf R. Flatteringly fast, not massively involving, can be ridiculously expensive.


Matt Robinson - 28 May 2019



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2019 Audi SQ2 UK test. Image by Audi UK.2019 Audi SQ2 UK test. Image by Audi UK.2019 Audi SQ2 UK test. Image by Audi UK.2019 Audi SQ2 UK test. Image by Audi UK.2019 Audi SQ2 UK test. Image by Audi UK.

2019 Audi SQ2 UK test. Image by Audi UK.2019 Audi SQ2 UK test. Image by Audi UK.2019 Audi SQ2 UK test. Image by Audi UK.2019 Audi SQ2 UK test. Image by Audi UK.2019 Audi SQ2 UK test. Image by Audi UK.








 

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