That distinct sense of imperturbable nonchalance that fast Audis tend to exude while covering ground quickly, regardless of the conditions under wheel, is very much manifested in the SQ2. While not exactly a car that rejoices at the prospect of being driven absolutely on the limit, the manner in which its chassis, steering, suspension and four-wheel-drive system work together to keep the Audi steadfast and stable, and to allow you to carry as little or as much speed as you care to, is impressive to witness.

The car’s taller stature doesn’t lead to any compromise on lateral body control that you’re likely to notice on the road, with roll being checked in a direct, assured and progressive fashion. Pitch hasn’t completely been erased, mind, particularly under braking – but, again, the passively damped sports suspension helps ensure the SQ2 doesn’t end up suffering a shortage of grip even when squatting or diving a little.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
You might imagine a performance crossover would absolutely depend on well-tuned adaptive suspension – but I reckon the SQ2 is all the better because it doesn’t

The confidence inspired by the SQ2’s resolute sure-footedness is further backed up by its steering. At 2.1 turns lock to lock, it’s swiftly geared, enabling the Audi to alter its course with reassuring, rather than intimidating, immediacy. Select Sport mode and the steering weight will increase to a purposeful level that stops narrowly short of feeling artificial; but, even thus configured, it remains a muted, tight-lipped rack that much prefers filtering out the influences of drive and bump on the steered axle to communicating them.

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Still, a dynamic comfort zone that’s impressively broad makes the SQ2 an easy vehicle – if not a hugely engaging one – to drive quickly on technical stretches of country B-road. Front-end grip is generally in plentiful supply, but that’s not to say the limits of the 235/40 section tyres can’t be exceeded if you’re boorish. The SQ2 will wash into understeer if provoked, but the ability of the hydraulically actuated multi-plate clutch to direct 100% of the motor’s torque rearwards does mean you have to work quite hard before it’ll really plough on. Overall, then, handling precision is very creditable at road speeds.

MIRA’s Dunlop handling circuit isn’t the ideal home for any four-wheel-drive crossover hatchback, but a performance-branded one ought to be able to hold its own here: and the SQ2 did indeed offer credible performance and handling poise.

Body movements are a bit more pronounced than would be expected of a comparable hot hatchback, as you’d imagine of a car with a higher centre of gravity. The SQ2’s steering, meanwhile, is less communicative even when experiencing high cornering loads than you might wish for. But, while the car’s natural bias is towards stability and gentle power-on understeer, the handling is usefully sensitive, and a bit adjustable, to a lifted throttle.

The SQ2 shone brighter on the low-friction surface of our wet-handling circuit, where it set a lap time beyond the reach of cars with twice its power. Because lateral load is lower, body movements are better contained, with the mid-way ESP setting permitting a useful amount of slip at the rear axle.

Comfort and isolation

Audi doesn’t offer adaptive dampers on the SQ2, so the underlying firmness of its sports suspension is just as present in Comfort mode as it is in Dynamic. Given the Cupra Ateca and VW Golf R – with which the Audi shares practically everything – both offer some form of adaptive damping as an extra, you might consider its omission from the Audi’s options list to be a bit of an oversight.

In fact, the SQ2 doesn’t suffer too much from it. Being a performance model, a certain degree of ride animation in the car is par for the course – particularly at town speeds – but it never becomes bothersome. Urban intrusions do have a tendency to feel sharp-edged, and it’s difficult to shake the suspicion that a really well-sorted hot hatchback would offer marginally greater damping sophistication in such environments.

Of much greater concern than ride refinement, though, are the SQ2’s under-bolstered sports seats. These offer little in the way of lateral support, which compromises their suitability for a car capable of developing as much grip as the Audi does. One tester remarked that the need to set yourself in the SQ2’s seat before entering a corner wasn’t dissimilar to the technique a motorcyclist would use when navigating a succession of fast bends.

On the move, the SQ2 does generate a fair amount of wind and road noise. At a 70mph cruise, our sound gear recorded 68dB, which suggests the cabin isn’t as isolated as that of the Golf R or a Cupra Ateca. At the same speed, our microphone returned readings of 67dB in both.

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