Audi’s continued growth across its range is impressive, given the current climate especially, and the latest addition is the 2021 Audi SQ2, the baby of its performance SUV range. It’s the first time an SQ2 has been available in Australia, and judging by the continued success of the SQ5 in this country, Audi almost certainly has a sales winner on its hands.
Our pricing and specification guide details the rundown, but for a quick recap here, pricing for the new SQ2 in Australia starts from $64,400 before on-road costs. The numbers are fairly serious, too, so dismiss the performance credentials of the SQ2 at your peril.
The 2.0-litre TFSI Quattro drivetrain includes a seven-speed S Tronic dual-clutch automatic and the turbocharged engine generates 221kW between 5300rpm and 6500rpm and 400Nm between 2000rpm and 5200rpm. 0–100km/h takes just 4.9 seconds and the ADR combined fuel claim is 7.7L/100km.
Audi is keen to emphasise that the first SQ2 in Australia has the credentials to back up its sharp styling. In the metal, it looks more aggressive, sharper at every corner, and features quad exhaust outlets, with a new colour on offer as well. Apple Green is available for the first time and is unique to the Q2 at this stage.
Audi has festooned the SQ2 with its highest level of standard equipment to strengthen the value proposition, simplify the buying process, and ensure the buyer feels like they have secured plenty of car for the money. As such, the SQ2 gets Audi’s premium cabin, the best headlights it offers, and the sharpest-styled wheel option for this model. Inside the cabin, there’s fine nappa leather, contrast stitching, and the option of red that is unique to the Q2. Buyers can also have a more demure cabin that is entirely black.
Outside, the matrix LED headlights, red brake calipers, silver mirror caps, and the sports exhaust all tie in with the 20mm lowered S sports suspension to hint at the performance potential the SQ2 possesses.
|2021 Audi SQ2|
|Engine||2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol|
|Power and torque||221kW at 5300–6500rpm, 400Nm at 2000–5200rpm|
|Transmission||Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic|
|Drive type||All-wheel drive|
|Fuel claim combined (ADR)||7.7L/100km|
|Fuel use on test||9.8L/100km|
|Boot volume (min/max)||355L/1000L|
|Height / length / width||1495mm / 4216mm / 1802mm|
|ANCAP rating||Five-star (2017)|
|Warranty||Three years/unlimited km|
|Main competitors||BMW X2 M35i, Mercedes-AMG GLA 35, Mini Countryman JCW|
|Price as tested (plus on-road costs)||From $64,400|
Back to the cabin, you get heated front seats, Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, and a premium Bang & Olufsen audio system with 14 speakers. From inside or out, the new SQ2 certainly looks the part.
Despite the sharp styling, I reckon the SQ2 fits in to Audi’s brief of stealthy performance. In fact, Audi might do it better than most, and the Q2 is most definitely a wolf in sheep’s clothing. No bad thing either, if your intention is to cruise around town sedately, and only open the taps occasionally on a country road. If you need a compact SUV and that’s your modus operandi, the SQ2 is the perfect realisation of that.
Performance SUVs remain, to me at least, an interesting conundrum. There’s no doubt that right now they drive as close to a regular hot hatch as they ever have. And still, I wonder if you want the performance, why don’t you opt for the non-SUV variant?
Two things remain true for our domestic market, though. Australians love the more expensive, performance variant of any Euro badge, and we find every excuse under the sun to justify the purchase of an SUV over a hatch, sedan or wagon. With the S3 Sportback or sedan sitting in the mid-$60K range before on-road costs, there is a decision to be made here. I expect the SQ2 to be a runaway sales success, though.
The cabin is beautifully appointed, beautifully executed, and feels as premium as Audi would hope it might. We make the point almost every time we test an Audi, but the brand really is on a golden run with the ergonomics and quality of its cabins. Some might not feel as avant-garde as the competition, but there’s solid quality and premium feeling to everything Audi does.
Therefore, time spent behind the wheel is time enjoyed, regardless of the drive. Punting out of Canberra in regular morning traffic, the SQ2 rolls along with effortless ease, but switch drive modes and find a country road and the beast is unleashed.
It’s a neat balance between practicality and riotous fun.
The sports front seats are nicely sculpted and not too firm, Virtual Cockpit looks right at home in front of the driver, and the infotainment interface is a good one that is easy to use. Getting into position in the driver’s seat delivers a sporty feel, without any of the compromises you’d have in an out-and-out sports car. Visibility is excellent, and the practicality of the cabin is evident.
The second row is tight for taller adults – as you’d no doubt take into account in this segment – especially when you have tall occupants up front. If you’re a two-person ownership collective, with occasional need for the second row around town, the SQ2 works perfectly. Load the boot up for a weekend away and you can hook into your drive as enthusiastically as your desire allows.
I crank into my performance drive on damp roads, wet from a previous storm and starting to dry slowly, delivering the changeable conditions that Audi’s supreme Quattro system eats up and spits out with disdain. The SQ2’s ability to tackle twisty, bumpy, patched-up roads with ease is sensational.
All the while, the engine is making all the right noises, the gearbox is doing its thing snappily and willingly, and you’re left enjoying the blur of the scenery while pointing the nose exactly where you want it to go. The fact that wet roads don’t even remotely faze the SQ2 is both a safety and performance benefit.
It’s so sure-footed and secure on the road, you can really just concentrate on making the most of your favourite country road in safety. As is the want of an S, rather than RS, performance model, you don’t even need to break the speed limit (and thus access a racetrack) to put a smile on your face either.
The union of engine and gearbox is a good one, with the auto’s ratios beautifully aligned to the power and torque peaks of the engine, as capable around town at crawling speed as they are approaching redline. It’s an intoxicating blend that Audi continues to nail right across its vast portfolio of models and grades.
The quality of the ride and handling package is likewise evidence of the SQ2’s double act. It soaks up nasty roads neatly and without getting flustered, but also hunkers down, and is sharp as a tack when you get stuck into it too. Balance and competence create confidence behind the wheel, and the SQ2 is – as much as the SUV naysayers probably hate to admit – a driver’s vehicle in the true sense.
It doesn’t feel heavy, top-heavy specifically, it doesn’t feel unbalanced or out of its depth, and it doesn’t feel like an SUV to drive. In sport mode, there’s a meaty feel to the steering, too, neatly aligned to what you’d expect as the driver without feeling artificial. If you act the goat, you can unsettle the front end, but you need to do so deliberately, and in true sports fashion, precision is rewarded with a hoot of a drive.
The brakes are also excellent, never losing any feel through the pedal or going vague after repeated use. They allow you to brake deep into a corner to settle the front end, wash off the speed you need to, and send the nose into the corner with confidence.
Our launch drive of the 2021 Audi SQ2 illustrates many of the SUV’s strong points across a typical Australian city to country drive. We’re looking forward to spending more time with the SQ2 when we get one through the garage for a full week of testing. That might be a while, though, as I have a feeling Audi Australia will be able to sell every one it gets its hands on.