It turned out to be a more competitive race than any of us expected

Performance crossovers and hot hatches make for an odd match, especially when you line them up side-by-side in a race. That, of course, didn’t stop Top Gear from trying to find out if the Volkswagen Golf R and the Mercedes-AMG A 35 can beat the Audi SQ2 and the Cupra Ateca in a drag race. While the disparity in size is evident between the two crossovers and the two hot hatches, all four use a similarly sized 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, including three that use the same engine that produces the same output. This makes for a compelling race that unfolded in a rather unexpected way.

First, a quick tale of the tape. The Volkswagen Golf R, Audi SQ2, and Cupra Ateca are all powered by the same 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder TSI engine that produces the same 300 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque output. The Mercedes-AMG A35 is the only exception, and while it also uses a 2.0-liter turbo-four engine, AMG was able to squeeze a bit more output for the hot hatch, adding up to 306 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque.

Overall weight is where all four vehicles go their separate ways.

The Mercedes-AMG A 35 is the lightest of the four with a weight of 1,480 kilos (3,262 pounds). The Audi SQ2 and the Volkswagen Golf R fall in the same weight class, albeit on the slightly heavier end, weighing 1,510 kilos (3,328 pounds) and 1,525 kilos (3,362 pounds), respectively. The Cupra Ateca, on the other hand, belongs in a different weight class — 1,615 kilos (3,560 pounds) — altogether. At the very least, we’re beginning to see a clear picture of how this race is going to unfold, specifically for the heavier Cupra. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t look good for the Ateca.

As the race starts around the 43-second mark of the video, the Audi SQ2 and the Mercedes-AMG A 35 both get off to flying starts, immediately establishing the tone of the race as a two-horse showdown with the Volkswagen Golf R and the Cupra Ateca falling out of contention in a matter of seconds. Meanwhile, the SQ2 and the AMG A 35 remained in lock-step throughout the whole race, eventually finishing neck-and-neck.

After a few seconds of sorting out the finish, we find out that the Audi SQ2 emerged victorious, albeit by the slimmest of margins. The Audi crossover finished the race in 12.97 seconds at 107.2 mph, edging out the AMG A 35, which crossed the line in 13.02 seconds at 106.4 mph.

The SQ2 won by 0.05 seconds! Meanwhile, the Volkswagen Golf R managed to separate itself from the Cupra Ateca and finish in third place with a time of 13.22 seconds at 105.5 mph.

As expected, the Ateca’s weight dragged it down enough for it to finish last with a time of 13.34 seconds at 105.0 mph.

Can the Audi SQ2 and Cupra Ateca Performance SUVs Keep Up With the Volkswagen Golf R and Mercedes-AMG A35 Hatchbacks?
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Ultimately, the Audi SQ2 won big time, even if it had six fewer horsepower and weighed 30 kilos (66 pounds) more than the AMG A 35. It’s not like the Audi crossover had any distinctive advantage over the Mercedes-AMG hot hatch. All four vehicles come with all-wheel-drive and the damp strip didn’t give one car the advantage over the other. Then again, it’s possible that the SQ2’s traction and seamless gear fighting won the race for the crossover. That or it’s Audi’s world-famous quattro all-wheel-drive system. Whatever it is, the SQ2 proved that just because it’s bigger and a tad heavier than a hot hatch like the Mercedes-AMG A 35, it doesn’t mean that it can’t throw down and beat it in a drag race.

Audi SQ2 Mercedes-AMG A 35 Volkswagen Golf R Cupra Ateca
Engine 2.0-liter TSI turbocharged four-cylinder engine 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine 2.0-liter TSI turbocharged four-cylinder engine 2.0-liter TSI turbocharged four-cylinder engine
Horsepower 302 horsepower 306 horsepower 302 horsepower 302 horsepower
Torque 295 pound-feet of torque 295 pound-feet of torque 295 pound-feet of torque 295 pound-feet of torque
0 to 60 mph 4.55 seconds 4.59 seconds 4.64 seconds 4.66 seconds
0 to 100 mph 11.52 seconds 11.57 seconds 11.86 seconds 12.03 seconds
Quarter-mile 12.97 seconds at 107.2 mph 13.02 seconds at 106.4 mph 13.22 seconds at 105.5 mph 13.34 seconds at 105.0 mph
Weight 1,510 kilos (3,328 pounds) 1,480 kilos (3,262 pounds) 1,525 kilos (3,362 pounds) 1,615 kilos (3,560 pounds)

Further reading

2018 Volkswagen Golf R Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Volkswagen Golf R.

2019 Mercedes-AMG A35
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Read our full review on the 2019 Mercedes-AMG A35.

2019 Audi SQ2
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Read our full review on the 2019 Audi SQ2.

2019 Cupra Ateca
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Read our full review on the 2019 Cupra Ateca.

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