Audi SQ2 review: double trouble
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- Lively engine
- Great interior
- Nice size for city driving
- Not obviously different from previous model
- Quite pricey for the segment
- Obvious fake noise
Audi has committed to going fully electric from 2033, but it seems that the German brand is making the most of its final generation of internal combustion vehicles. We saw this in the ballistic RS6/RS7 pairing last year, and more recently in the fascinating new turbo diesel SQ5. The facelifted SQ2 falls into the same category, but unlike those other two, it doesn’t feature any sort of electric power in the drivetrain.
As a standalone vehicle the SQ2 is great, but it’s something that’s facing an identity crisis of sorts, through no fault of its own. By definition, it’s an SUV, but by nature it feels more like a hot hatch with a body lift. And that’s exactly why I’m a fan of this awesome little package.
For 2021, the SQ2 received redesigned headlights, new bumpers, and a single frame octagonal grille that sits lower. There are narrow slits between the grille and the bonnet, which are said to pay tribute to the iconic Audi Sport Quattro rally car.
The SQ2 rides on 19-inch alloys, wrapped in Bridgestone rubber measuring 235/40. The red performance brake calipers feature Audi’s “S” logo.
At the business end of the SQ2 sits a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine making 221kW and 400Nm. It’s quattro all-wheel drive, with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The SQ2 will hit 100km/h in just 4.9 seconds - just 0.1sec slower than the new S3 hot hatch, and I’d argue that the 400Nm from the SQ2 hits significantly harder than the 310Nm of the S3.
It sits 20mm lower than the regular Q2 SUV, thanks to the S suspension. Like a lot of modern adaptive systems, comfort mode is where you want it for the majority of the time, but Dynamic mode sharpens things up significantly when the time calls for it.
This SQ2 has shorter gear ratios than the last model, with seventh remaining the same to help with fuel consumption. While driving without a heavy foot is something that’s easier said than done in an Audi S-car, doing so got DRIVEN’s tester to the claimed 7.7l/100km figure on the open road, and we managed 7.9l/100km in the city.
Canterbury | Christchurch
$571.94 p/w $2,287.74 p/m
The SQ2 still makes use of an older Audi interior design – but that isn’t a bad thing. It gets a single 8.3-inch touchscreen infotainment display on top of the dash, and a large 12.3in digital cluster behind the steering wheel. The SQ2 sticks with a large gear selector, which I believe is better to use than the small one found in Audi’s newer models.
As a whole, I’d happily argue that Audi has the best cabins of any luxury European brand, and this last-gen interior without the haptic screens hit the sweet spot.
At 4.2m long, the SQ2 is actually shorter than the S3, but a little taller at 1.52m. In the SQ2, this extra height translates to improved ground clearance, meaning navigating steep driveways isn’t an issue. Given its small stature, second-row seating space is a little limited, but that’s expected in this segment. With 355 litres of luggage space, it’s down on the regular Q2’s figure of 405, but folding down the rear seats will bring this up to 1000 litres.
The closest rival is the Mercedes-AMG GLA 35. The Audi comes out on top as it’s around $20,000 cheaper, but also 0.2 seconds faster to 100km/h.
You might also consider AWD European hot hatches such as Audi’s S3, or the BMW M135i, but if you’re set on the small SUV lifestyle, this handsome little SQ2 looks like a no-brainer.
ENGINE: 2.0-litre turbo
GEARBOX: 7-speed automatic, AWD