Small, quirky Audi Q2 SUV looks set to join the marque’s S line-up

A sporty version of Audi’s small and stylish SUV, the Q2, has been spotted testing. Even though the new grille, as well as reprofiled front and rear bumpers, are disguised, it’s clear there hasn’t been any radical alterations to the way the small off-roader looks – even the wheels don’t look any bigger. The give-away that this is more than just a few styling tweaks, and that an SQ2 performance version is on its way, is the quartet of exhaust pipes poking from the rear bumper. 

The idea of another performance SUV might not sound all that appealing as very few really impress as drivers’ cars. However, Audi has form when it comes to creating exciting and involving little off-roaders because, as absurd as it might seem, the now discontinued Audi RS Q3 was a real hoot to drive. The higher ride height gave it a robust feel and the extra body movements helped you feel the four-wheel drive system distribute the torque to each axle.

> More from Audi 

As a result it was, in many situations, more interesting to drive than Audi’s RS3, even if it was less capable. And it was significantly more fun than Audi’s bigger sporty SUVs like the SQ7 and SQ5, too. The SQ2’s small proportions, and that the standard car is very competent, all bode well for a performance version being relatively fun to drive.

The Q2 is based on the VW Group’s MQB platform that not only underpins some Audi and Volkswagen SUVs but is also the basis for many hot hatches – the Golf GTI as well as the four-wheel drive Golf R, Audi S3 and RS3 all use the MQB platform. What’s more, these all-wheel drive performance cars utilise the same Haldex four-wheel drive system many Q2s already have. With these components – ones that VW and Audi have proven can produce fast, talented and interesting all-wheel drive cars – the SQ2 looks promising.

It has to be said, though, that much of the RS Q3’s appeal was thanks to its five-cylinder turbocharged engine nicked from the RS3. The glorious sound it made – part Ur-Quattro and part Audi R8 V10 – was matched by some decent shove thanks to 250kW and 450Nm of torque.

Tesla Model S P100D v Audi R8 – let’s settle this

It’s unlikely the SQ2 will be bestowed with such an exciting motor; the five-pot is reserved for small RS models – and the four exhaust pipes, rather than two big ones, seen in these pictures suggest the sporty Q2 will just be an S model.

But don’t be too disheartened, if it’s like the rest of the small Audi S range – and we have no reason to think it won’t be – it’s likely to be powered by the group’s EA888 2-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine. That engine is already found in the Q2 2.0 TFSI, but it only produces 187bhp. In Audi’s S-cars it puts out from 170kW in the Audi S1 to 228kW in the S3 – we expect the version in the SQ2 to be somewhere between the two.

Even though the Audi S1 and S3, two cars that the SQ2 will share many components with, both come with a manual gearbox as standard, Audi doesn’t usually fit manual gearboxes to its performance SUVs so don’t hold your breath for three-pedal version.

Still, even with a dual-clutch transmission and more power, we’d be surprised if the final SQ2 is able to accelerate as fast as the little S1. A five-door version of the small hot hatch, the heaviest version available, weighs 190kg less than the current 2-litre Q2 and can reach 100km/h in 5.9sec. For the SQ2 to get close to that acceleration figure it’ll need all of the S3’s power.