Used test: Audi SQ2 vs Cupra Ateca

Buy either of these two sports SUVs at 18 months old and you'll save plenty of money, but which one should you go for? We have the answer...

New Audi SQ2 vs Cupra Ateca

The Contenders

Audi SQ2 TFSI quattro S tronic

List price when new £37,175
Price today £27,000* 
Available from 2019-present

Smaller than the Ateca but has the same engine, a plusher interior and is cheaper to buy at this age. 

Cupra Ateca 300

List price when new £35,900
Price today £28,000*
Available from 2018-present

The larger Cupra Ateca was our 2019 Sports SUV of the Year when it was new, but how does it fare against the SQ2 as a used car?

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

Once upon a time a sports car was a sports car and that was that, but with the rise in popularity of the raised-up and funky looking SUV, now available in all sizes and types from small to extra-large, it was only a matter of time before cross-pollination produced the sports SUV

If you want a big and fast one you’ve got plenty of choice, with high-riding heavyweights like the indomitable Porsche Cayenne and wacky Lamborghini Urus vying for your cash. Those on a more modest budget can likewise choose from a growing pool that includes this Audi SQ2, based on the sensible-shoes Audi Q2, and its closely related cousin, the Cupra Ateca, based as it is on the family SUV-sized Seat Ateca.

Audi SQ2 rear cornering

Here, we’ve brought both together but at around 18 months old, which will make our test even more budget-conscious as you’ll save a welcome wodge of cash on the new price of both of these cars. But which one to choose? Read on... 

What are they like to drive? 

Both cars share the Volkswagen Group’s 296bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, four-wheel drive and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.

With these cars 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 rear

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 many a two-seat sports car to shame.

It’s a pity that neither sounds that 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 note is as convincing as that of a comparable hot hatch, such as the Hyundai i30 N or Mercedes-AMG A35.

Audi SQ2 front - red

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 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.

The cars use the same gearbox, which shifts smoothly and is smart about its gear selection, but the Ateca’s reacts quicker to flicks of the manual shift paddles.

Cupra Ateca

You therefore end up driving the SQ2 in a more relaxed manner. However, because Audi has fitted stiffened sports suspension to keep roll in reasonable check, its ride is rather fussy and unsettled, being at its worst in town and on medium-pace country roads. The Ateca, on the other hand, is more supple, thanks to standard adaptive suspension that can be softened up with 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 surprisingly less droney exhaust tone make it a relatively hushed cruiser.

 Next: What are they like inside? >>

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