Audi SQ2 review

Category: Sports SUV

Beautifully built, but can't match the Cupra Ateca for practicality or driver appeal

Audi SQ2 2021 front cornering
  • Audi SQ2 2021 front cornering
  • Audi SQ2 2021 rear cornering
  • Audi SQ2 2021 interior dashboard
  • Audi SQ2 2021 interior rear seats
  • Audi SQ2 2021 interior infotainment
  • Audi SQ2 2021 front right tracking
  • Audi SQ2 2021 right tracking
  • Audi SQ2 2021 rear right tracking
  • Audi SQ2 2021 front right static
  • Audi SQ2 2021 rear left static
  • Audi SQ2 2021 headlight detail
  • Audi SQ2 2021 rear light detail
  • Audi SQ2 2021 alloy wheel detail
  • Audi SQ2 2021 interior front seats
  • Audi SQ2 2021 boot open
  • Audi SQ2 2021 front cornering
  • Audi SQ2 2021 rear cornering
  • Audi SQ2 2021 interior dashboard
  • Audi SQ2 2021 interior rear seats
  • Audi SQ2 2021 interior infotainment
  • Audi SQ2 2021 front right tracking
  • Audi SQ2 2021 right tracking
  • Audi SQ2 2021 rear right tracking
  • Audi SQ2 2021 front right static
  • Audi SQ2 2021 rear left static
  • Audi SQ2 2021 headlight detail
  • Audi SQ2 2021 rear light detail
  • Audi SQ2 2021 alloy wheel detail
  • Audi SQ2 2021 interior front seats
  • Audi SQ2 2021 boot open
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Introduction

What Car? says...

It’s good being one of the first at something, and the Audi SQ2 can be credited with being one of the earliest examples of the sports SUV. 

It wasn’t what you’d call a half-hearted early effort, either. Audi gave the SQ2 a startling turn of speed by fitting the engine, gearbox and four-wheel drive system from the Volkswagen Golf R of the time into the petite body of a regular Q2.

Since then, the German car maker has refreshed the model, giving us a revised version with subtle changes underneath, a new look and different spec options that make it a better value proposition.

That's wise, because competition in the sports SUV class has really hotted up since Audi unveiled the original SQ2. And its newer rivals are by no means half-hearted efforts, either.

For a start, there's our 2021 Sports SUV of the Year, the Ford Puma ST. We also have two offerings from the Volkswagen Group chewing on the SQ2’s coat tails – the Cupra Ateca and the VW T-Roc R (both former What Car? award winners too).

That’s not all. There are even more potent alternatives to be found in AMG versions of the Mercedes GLA, while the M-Sport division at BMW has been whittling away at the X2 to give us the BMW X2 M35i.

So is the Audi SQ2 still one of the front runners in the sports SUV category, or are there better rivals out there now we'd recommend? This comprehensive review will tell you, as well as letting you know all you need to know about its performance, comfort and interior quality, running costs and more.

When you've decided which make and model of car to buy, remember you can quickly and easily find the best prices by using our free What Car? New Car Buying service. It's got lots of very appealing new Audi Q2 deals.

Overview

The Audi SQ2 is plusher inside than the Cupra Ateca but isn’t quite as practical or as sharp to drive as the best sports SUVs such as the Ford Puma ST or Volkswagen T-Roc R. For some, though, the added appeal of the four-ring emblem on the nose will be enough to justify the extra expense over its Spanish rival, but there are an awful lot more exciting options on the market.

  • Very quick
  • Interior build quality
  • Easy to use infotainment
  • Fidgety ride
  • Tight rear space
  • Not the most fun sports SUV
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

So what makes the SQ2 so different from the normal Audi Q2? Well, for starters, it has a rather more potent 296bhp 2.0 TSI engine shared with the Cupra Ateca and Volkswagen T-Roc R.

It makes for a genuinely quick SUV, and the 0-62mph time of 4.9secs is fast enough to embarrass many much more expensive cars, including the entry-level Porsche Macan. Helping matters is standard quattro four-wheel drive that provides superb traction whatever the weather.

The engine doesn’t sound particularly enthusiastic when driven hard in either the Cupra Ateca and VW T-Roc R, and the SQ2’s greater refinement dulls its tone even further. That does at least help make this a quiet motorway cruiser, unlike the Ateca, which always has a throbbing drone in the background at 70mph. You’ll also appreciate less wind and road noise at that speed than you'll experience in the Cupra Ateca. 

Audi Q2 image
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The SQ2 uses the same seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox as the Ateca and T-Roc R, yet hesitates more when you put your foot to the floor wanting it to kick down a gear for a burst of acceleration. The gear changes during normal driving are smooth, though.

Ride quality in the standard SQ2 avoids the constant patter at speed that can bother the T-Roc R, and is a world away from the punishingly firm BMW X2 M35i over potholes and drain covers at town speeds. The SQ2 can’t match the compliance of the Ateca, which has standard adaptive suspension that can be softened on demand. You’ll need to get the priciest Vorsprung trim for that.

Whichever suspension set-up you get, it’s agile for an SUV, and responds faithfully to your steering inputs thanks to huge reserves of grip, but this isn't an exciting sports SUV. It doesn't have the mid-corner adjustability of the Ford Puma ST and it doesn't corner as flatly as the T-Roc R. Keen drivers might also lament that the SQ2’s steering isn’t as quick as the Puma ST, but the same criticism can be made of the Ateca.

Audi SQ2 2021 rear cornering

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

There’s so much adjustment in the Audi SQ2's steering wheel and driving position that just about anyone should be able to get comfortable, and adjustable lumbar support is fitted as standard.

Forward visibility is good, with a raised seating position that allows you to peek over family hatchbacks. Rear visibility is hampered by thick rear pillars but you get a reversing camera and sensors as standard.

The dashboard layout is the same as the regular Audi Q2. While its minimalist design may not look as glitzy as the Mercedes GLA 35 and 45 S AMG, it is simple and easy to get used to. Technophiles will appreciate the standard 12.3in virtual cockpit that provides lots of information in front of the driver, supplementing the rather dated looking 8.3in central display.

The infotainment screen is a doddle to use, though, with a simple rotary dial controller and shortcut buttons mounted next to the gearlever. You can skim through the menus far easier than with many touchscreen-only alternatives found in rivals, including the Cupra Ateca

The car comes with a standard DAB radio, sat-nav and Bluetooth system, plus you can use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto to operate your smartphone through the infotainment screen. The standard sound system is fine, but you’ll need to pay more for the Comfort and Sound pack to upgrade to the 14-speaker, 705 watt Bang & Olufsen system – or plump for the top-spec Vorsprung trim.

The SQ2 does feel like a step up in quality compared to the Ateca. We’re not talking poles apart, but the materials feel better and it all seems more robust when you give the dash a poke and a prod. That said, the scratchy plastics on the door cards are very much akin to what you’ll find on the VW T-Roc R and feel downright cheap.

Audi SQ2 2021 interior dashboard

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Even tall drivers will find no shortage of front-seat space in the Audi SQ2. There’s as much leg and head room as most small SUVs can offer, although the Cupra Ateca does offer more room for the longer-legged.

Space isn’t quite as generous in the back, though. Adults will find the SQ2 pretty tight, with knees close to the front seatbacks and heads brushing the rooflining. It’s a rather unappealing prospect for three adults to sit side by side, too, owing to the relatively narrow back seat.

Restricted space aside, two rear passengers are each treated to a door bin big enough for a small bottle of water, as well as a folding centre armrest with two cupholders concealed inside. If you regularly carry passengers in the back, though, you’ll find the roomier Ateca much more convenient.

The SQ2 has 60/40-split folding rear seats as standard, which is typical for the class. A more flexible 40/20/40 arrangement is available with the top-tier Vorsprung version. Both set-ups leave a near-flat load area when stowed, unlike in the Ateca, although it is easier to drop the Ateca's seats because it has extra handles on the boot wall (the SQ2 has them on the seatbacks only).

The boot is usefully square, and there’s room for three or four large shopping bags or a folded pram. It is, however, considerably smaller than that of the Cupra Ateca, and it doesn’t have any clever hidden storage nooks below the boot floor like the Ford Puma ST because of the four-wheel drive gubbins.

Audi SQ2 2021 interior rear seats

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Pricing for the Audi SQ2 has been adjusted since it came out, so it’s now cheaper in its entry-level form than a Cupra Ateca and VW T-Roc R. More impressively, It significantly undercuts the BMW X2 M35i and the least expensive 35 AMG version of the Mercedes GLA. It does cost more than a Ford Puma ST, but then the SQ2 is far faster in a straight line.

Highly competitive PCP finance deals means the SQ2 is more affordable to run than all of its main competitors except the Puma ST. That's backed up by strong resale values that better the GLA 35 AMG and X2 M35i, although they do come up short of the T-Roc R, Ateca and Puma ST. Remember to check the free What Car? New Car Deals pages for the best current prices.

With four-wheel drive and nearly 300bhp under the SQ2's bonnet, fuel consumption and emissions are unsurprisingly on the high side. It pumps out 188g/km of CO2 which puts it into the top 37% tax bracket for benefit-in-kind (BIK) company car tax. The official economy figure of 34.9mpg beats those of all rivals except the X2 M35i and Puma ST, but expect to see mid to high-20s when driven spiritedly.

Audi as a brand finished a disappointing 18th out of 30 manufacturers in the 2021 What Car? Reliability Survey. That puts it behind the likes of BMW, but ahead of Volkswagen, Mercedes and Ford. You get a comprehensive three-year, 60,000-mile manufacturer’s warranty, which includes breakdown cover and can be extended to five years and 90,000 miles without breaking the bank.

The Q2 received a five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP, with a strong 93% score for adult protection and 86% for child protection. That makes it one of the safest cars in its class, and there’s no reason to believe that the sportier SQ2 would perform with any less aplomb.

All models come with a full complement of airbags and two rear Isofix child seat mounting points, plus a number of safety systems to help prevent accidents. These include automatic emergency braking (AEB) to reduce the risk of a collision with traffic ahead and optional lane-keeping assistance to help prevent you wandering out of your lane on the motorway.

Also on the options list is Audi Side Assist, which warns you if another car is in your blind-spot when you’re about to change lane, as well as a rear cross-traffic alert system that applies the brakes if you haven't seen a car crossing behind you when reversing out of a tight driveway or parking space.

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Audi SQ2 2021 interior infotainment
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RRP price range £49,740 - £49,740
Number of trims (see all)1
Number of engines (see all)1
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)petrol
MPG range across all versions 32.8 - 32.8
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / 60000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £1,727 / £3,555
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £3,454 / £7,109
Available colours