Engine options, top speed, acceleration and refinement

Weight is on the SQ2’s side here – at least, when compared with the only other performance crossover rival against which we can measure its pace. The more compact Audi was 85kg lighter than the related Cupra Ateca on the scales, and showed as much by outstripping its Spanish in-house rival against the clock.

Launching through typically efficient electronic driveline governance and two generously rubbered axles, the SQ2 needed just 4.5sec to hit 60mph from rest. It was three-tenths of a second quicker than the Cupra from 30-70mph – not least because of the traction it has and the slickness of its twin-clutch gearbox in flat-chat operation. It also beat the current Honda Civic Type R, tested in slightly damp conditions back in 2017, by the same margin.

The Volkswagen Group’s EA888 engine remains capable of delivering fiery performance even after all these years. A 0-60mph time of 4.5sec certainly isn’t to be sniffed at

At that speed, few ought to be disappointed by the outright pace of this hot Audi… and yet. The knockout clout of Audi Sport’s five-cylinder compact RS models was never likely to be forthcoming from this lower-rung S model; but, of a modern fast Audi, somehow you can’t banish the thought of it from your impressions of the SQ2 – nor help being left just a little bit cold by the performance of a powertrain that nonetheless makes all the right noises, and hits as hard as can reasonably be expected.

Slightly clumsy relative spacing of intermediate ratios would be the only serious criticism we’d make of the car’s twin-clutch transmission. As the car picks up speed in manual mode, the gap between third and fourth gear seems a particularly wide one. You can therefore be made to regret an early upshift when you want every last morsel of acceleration you can get from this car. The SQ2 certainly encourages you to drive it quickly often enough that you might notice the quirk, too. It sounds less contrived than the Cupra Ateca did in its sportier driving modes, and feels a bit more energetic on the road.

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This being an Audi S, it would be wrong not to describe the suitability of SQ2’s powertrain to everyday, any-weather use – particularly because it would be very suited to it indeed. Even on a wringing wet surface, the car’s quattro drivetrain doesn’t struggle for traction for an instant. Both engine and gearbox are unfailingly responsive, obedient and well-rounded; outright braking power is reassuringly strong; and the brakes are also instinctively managed and modulated through its pedal.