I normally drive a Q7 but yesterday had some time in the Audi SQ2.
At first sight this has the slightly awkward and boxy appearance of a poorly constructed supermini but on closer inspection the flared wheel arches and the four (count ’em!) exhausts suggest something rather different.
In the driver’s seat and the usual engine temperature gauge is replaced by something marked “boost” which hints at what is to come.
The Q7 I normally drive has about 270bhp and usually feels fairly quick both from a standing start and when overtaking on the motorway. The 0-60 time there is 6.5 seconds, which is faster than most cars on the road, but you would expect this from a modern 3l V6 diesel. It is a long way from being a sports car but it is quick enough.
The SQ2 is in a different class entirely. The four-wheel-drive is very useful given the potential for poor traction from a front wheel drive car of this size, weight and power. Like the Q7, it proved difficult to spin the wheels or lose traction, at least with the usual driver assistance systems turned on.
The SQ2 is significantly quicker off the mark and, even once up to speed on the motorway, accelerated quickly and with a deep rumble from the engine which seemed out of character for such a small car and such a small engine.
The engine. A 2l turbocharged petrol producing almost 300bhp. That explains the acceleration. This is also a lot of power from such a small unit. It is not too many years that a production BMW M3 first broke the 100bhp per litre power output barrier, albeit with a normally aspirated engine. The downside of this power? About 25 miles to the gallon, difficult to believe for such a small car. Over 40,000 miles, my Q7 has delivered 36 mpg.
Other thoughts? The SQ2 costs almost £40,000 without options, comparable to an E Class Mercedes. The interior of the SQ2 was woeful. The hard scratchy plastic on the doors is simply unacceptable on a car at even half this price. The driving position felt awkward, sitting relatively high – but in a rocket ship. Perhaps this awkwardness is to be expected in a car occupying the “high-powered mini SUV rocket ship” segment. Who even knew that was a thing?
The boot and rear space look small and, in all honesty, I do not know who would buy this car. If you want a pocket rocket, go for the Fiat 500 Abarth. If you want a small quick Audi, buy the S3. It’s far better appointed inside, with a more natural posture and driving position.
Driving the Q7 at speed feels like being rushed along in a soft and comfortable armchair. The SQ2 sees you hurtling much more quickly, just on a tea tray.