AUDI'S SQ2 is a hot hatch masquerading as an SUV and since November 2020 it's had a sharper new look and to match those performance credentials.
The cabin of the latest hot crossover also now benefits from additional equipment, improved infotainment and web-based functionality as well as an expanded range of driver assistance systems. And, added to the range were even more striking Black Edition and top-of-the-range Vorsprung models.
The updates were mainly cosmetic, being limited to new front and rear bumpers, fancy new LED headlights and some new colours. Inside, there's some new seat upholstery and a couple of fresh trim pieces.
However, the previously optional 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster now comes as standard, and there's a larger 8.3-inch infotainment system mounted on the dashboard. This is operated from an intuitive rotary dial on the centre console, which is much less distracting and preferable to use on the move than a touchscreen interface.
The same 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine produces 296bhp with a stonking peak torque of 400Nm available across a broad swathe of the rev range from 2,000 to 5,300rpm. Power goes to all four wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, meaning this compact crossover can get from 0-62mph faster than some conventional hot hatches.
The TFSI engine responds keenly to throttle inputs, and its sound becomes fuller as speed increases thanks in part to the switchable flaps in the exhaust system. It doesn't quite spit and pop as much as you'd like though. It doesn't want to upset the neighbours. However, that quattro all-wheel drive system, which distributes torque smoothly between the axles, means it'll cling on in corners respectably, serving up solid traction.
During faster driving on more challenging roads, the electronically controlled quattro system can direct a proportion of the torque to the rear axle in the interest of agility, and enables precise turn-in during load reversal. Its highly intelligent reactions are also supported by wheel-selective torque control, which makes minor brake interventions at the wheels on the inside of a corner to maintain the best line through to the exit.
The Black Edition officially returns 34mpg so I was pleased to see I managed to find 36.7mpg over nearly 470 miles of mixed driving. The seven-speed S tronic's lower gears feature closely spaced ratios while the seventh gear is long to maximise fuel economy. Also, if the standard Audi drive select system is in ‘efficiency' mode, the clutch disengages when coasting, allowing the SQ2, which is 20mm lower than the ‘normal' Q2, to freewheel.
Despite all its power, around town the SQ2 is smooth and good-natured, a proper runabout for young couples or small families. On the motorway, it's as comfortable and refined as you'd expect from an Audi, even on 19-inch wheels. Overtaking is a cinch with that power on tap.
However, it's out in the wild where the SQ2 comes into its own. As hinted at earlier, it's grippy, capable, takes corners confidently, and body control is solid. Suffice to say it will put a smile on your face.
It's not the roomiest car in its class but offers just enough room in the rear to carry four adults in comfort. Five would be a squeeze. Raising the standard powered tailgate reveals a minimum of 355 litres of luggage capacity, which can be expanded to 1,000 litres if the rear seat backrests are folded.
The SQ2 Black Edition gets gloss titanium black detailing for the strips on the air inlet grille and the rear diffuser, and a matt titanium black finish for the radiator grille, the underbody protection, the air inlet surrounds and the rear diffuser. The exhaust tailpipes are also trimmed in black chrome and the exterior mirror housings and C-pillar blades in solid Brilliant black. There's also a rear LED cluster. It's a nice-looking car.
Inside, there's the usual high quality materials presented in a dark colour scheme, and front sport seats upholstered in a black leather and Alcantara mix in the Black Edition. The door panels are crafted from a new, more tactile soft-touch material.
All versions also now feature a rear view camera to complement the rear parking sensors, which are now also joined by front sensors.
Protection of the SQ2, its occupants and other road users was already cutting edge in the class thanks to the inclusion as standard of Audi pre-sense front, which uses radar to observe the area in front of the car in order to avoid accidents or reduce their severity.
296bhp, 1,984cc, four-cylinder petrol engine driving all four wheels via a seven-speed automatic gearbox