Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI 150 Sport
List price £23,930
Target Price £23,698
A small premium-badged SUV has the potential for big sales. Does the Q2 deserve them?
DS 4 Crossback 1.2 Puretech 130
List price £22,295
Target Price £21,079
The SUV-style DS 4 Crossback is cheaper than the Q2, and it comes with more equipment.
Seat Ateca 1.4 EcoTSI 150 Xcellence
List price £23,905
Target Price £23,249
It does without a premium badge, but the new Seat Ateca is a plush and well-equipped SUV.
If there's a recipe for sales success today it surely features lashings of small SUV and a big pinch of premium. More and more buyers are shelling out for a posh badge and a swanky interior, while even more want a raised ride height.
The new Q2 is Audi’s smallest SUV yet. The brand is renowned for its high-quality interiors, and the 1.4-litre petrol version tested here also has a sensible sticker price and low running costs.
The Seat badge doesn’t have the cachet of Audi, but the Ateca offers more space and a lot more standard kit for the same money, ensuring it is as plush as it is practical. We’re testing it in the same 1.4-litre petrol form as the Q2.
Citroën’s DS brand is also after a piece of the premium pie. Its DS 4 Crossback has the all-important SUV looks, a generous kit list and is the cheapest car here in frugal 1.2-litre petrol form.
What are they like to drive?
The Q2 and Ateca’s turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engines produce an identical 148bhp, are able to shut off two cylinders at a cruise to save fuel and deploy maximum power and torque at identical revs. However, the Ateca weighs around 100kg more than the Q2, so it’s left behind when accelerating through its gears and it’s slower to gain speed from low revs in higher gears. With only 128bhp to call on, the DS is the last to cross the line in any situation, although its short gearing prevents it from ever feeling too sluggish.
The DS’s engine also protests the loudest when pushed, sending noticeable vibration back through the steering wheel and pedals and emitting a gravelly growl in the process. The 1.4-litre units in the Q2 and Ateca are far smoother, staying vibration-free no matter the revs and only sounding strained when they are pushed hard.
It’s no surprise that these high-riding SUVs don’t handle quite as sharply as traditional family hatchbacks, but the Q2 is certainly one of the most agile of its type. It changes direction with far greater urgency than its rivals, and it grips harder, too, even though its quick steering doesn’t provide a great deal of feedback.
That’s not to say the Seat is disappointing, however; its body leans more than the Q2’s, but it still changes direction sharply enough and hangs on well. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the DS 4. Its slow, slack controls and rolling body make twists and turns a thoroughly disagreeable experience.
The reason for the difference in handling ability has much to do with these cars’ suspension set-ups. The Audi is the lowest-riding car and has the firmest suspension, which makes for a slightly bumpy ride. Although you’re never uncomfortable, the Q2 does pick up on road scars and ruts more readily than the Ateca and DS 4. Our Ateca was fitted with larger-than standard 19in alloy wheels, but its slightly softer suspension better protects those inside over the same abrasions without proving too floaty over undulations.
It should translate, then, that the softest car here, the DS 4, proves most comfortable, but sadly this is not the case. Not only does it feel too wallowy along rolling country roads, but sharp ridges also send noisy shudders through its body. You’re also forced to put up with more road and wind noise driving the DS 4 at speed than you are in the Q2 or Ateca. The Ateca is fractionally the quietest cruiser.
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