Used test: Audi SQ2 vs Cupra Ateca

Pick up a used Audi SQ2 or Cupra Ateca and you'll save plenty of money, but which sports SUV packs the most performance and driver appeal?...

New Audi SQ2 vs Cupra Ateca

The Contenders

Audi SQ2 TFSI quattro S tronic

List price when new £37,175
Price today £26,000* 
Available from 2019-present

While smaller than its rival, the Audi SQ2 has the same engine and a plush interior

Cupra Ateca 300

List price when new £35,900
Price today £26,000*
Available from 2018-present

When new, the Cupra Ateca was our 2019 Sports SUV of the Year, but does it remain just as competitive as a used car?

*Price today is based on a 2019 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing

If SUVs were sauces, the everyday, mild-mannered ones would be ketchup and the butch off-roaders would be BBQ, while sports SUV would naturally fall under the hot sauce category. This then begs the question: how spicy do you want it? Well, for many, the Audi SQ2 and Cupra Ateca will hit the spot. 

They won't annihilate your taste buds like a Lamborghini Urus, but they will provide the Scoville to thrill; for a performance reference point, think hot hatch

Audi SQ2 front - red

What's more, despite their potency, the pair are relatively affordable when used. If you buy either at three years old, you can save around £10,000 over their price new. Now, that's not something you should glance over, especially if this introduction has unintentionally coerced you into buying a plethora of Heinz sauces. We do apologise if that has been the case.

To make up for it, why don't we find out whether the SQ2 or Ateca is the better used buy? Read on to uncover the answer. 


Performance, ride, handling, refinement

Our contenders – which are both part of the VW Group stable – share a 296bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, four-wheel drive and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, and they far exceed the performance of the cars on which they're based, those being the Audi Q2 and Seat Ateca.

With these high-riding rocketships being identical in the power department, it’s no surprise that their 0-60mph times are separated by just 0.1sec, the fractionally heavier Ateca not quite being able to match the SQ2’s exhilarating time of 4.8sec.

Cupra Ateca

On the road, however, the difference isn’t even noticeable. After a small pause while the turbocharger spins up, both cars accelerate with the kind of ferocity that would put some two-seat sports cars to shame.

It’s a pity that neither sounds especially enthusiastic when doing so, though. Yes, the SQ2 sounds a little meatier than the Ateca, thanks to its augmented soundtrack (the stereo pumps synthesised engine noise inside), but neither is as convincing as that of a comparable hot hatch, such as the Hyundai i30 N or Mercedes-AMG A35.

Audi SQ2 rear cornering

They may be close in terms of performance, but our contenders have surprisingly different personalities when it comes to handling – and it’s the Ateca that feels more like a sharp performance car. From its quicker, more feelsome steering to its superior body control on uneven B-roads, it relishes being driven in an enthusiastic manner.

With less outright grip than the Ateca, the SQ2 is more prone to running wide of your intended line if you enter a corner too quickly. And while its four-wheel drive system is able to redistribute up to 100% of the engine’s torque to the rear to help correct this tendency, the overly intrusive stability control stops you from tightening your line.

These cars' DSG automatic ’boxes shift smoothly and are smart about their gear selection, but the Ateca’s reacts quicker to flicks of the manual shift paddles.

Cupra Ateca rear

You therefore end up driving the SQ2 in a more relaxed manner. However, because Audi has fitted stiffened sports suspension to keep body lean in check through corners, its ride is rather fussy and unsettled, being at its worst in town and on medium-pace country roads. The Ateca is more supple, thanks to standard adaptive suspension that can be softened up by switching to Comfort mode.

Where the SQ2 scores back some points is on overall refinement. On the motorway, it produces fractionally less wind noise, while its slimmer tyres and quieter exhaust (there's less of a drone than in the Ateca) make it a relatively hushed cruiser.

 Next: What are they like inside? >>

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