Review: Audi Q2 vs Mini Countryman vs Seat Ateca triple test

Review: Audi Q2 vs Mini Countryman vs Seat Ateca triple test
Review: Audi Q2 vs Mini Countryman vs Seat Ateca triple test

Radically overhauled Mini Countryman shakes up the small SUV sector

Looking for a practical car without purchasing something that resembles a box on wheels? A small SUV will address your needs, and a £25,000 budget opens up plenty of model options. Mini’s all-new Mini Countryman has arrived to take on current class leader, the Audi Q2, and the Seat Ateca, too. The latter offers generous spec, stylish looks and even more practicality than its rivals here. We try all three in economical diesel guise. Which is best?

Seat Ateca 1.6 TDI Ecomotive SE Technology

Price: £24,170
Engine: 1.6-litre, four-cylinder, diesel
Power: 114bhp
Torque: 184lb ft
0-60mph: 10.8sec
Top speed: 114mph
Economy: 64.2mpg
CO2 emissions: 114g/km

Driving experience

We’ve chosen the most economical oil-burner in the Mini range, but at 2.0 litres the turbodiesel is still of a larger capacity than its 1.6-litre rivals here. That gives it an immediate advantage – and the even better news is that although it’s also the most powerful model on test, at 148bhp, it returns the best average economy.

Naturally the Mini is the quickest car here, but surprisingly it isn’t as exciting to drive as you’d expect, exhibiting a nervous and unsettled feel through fast corners. The Audi is more grippy and nimble, while the Seat outclasses them both with the best B-road dynamics despite slightly more body lean.

Passengers won’t be too happy about the Countryman’s stiff ride. The Audi’s is also firm but more pliable, and it settles down as the speed builds. Comfort and bump absorbency are most apparent in the Ateca, which has the best overall balance. And while the Mini’s engine is the quietest here, its controls are much stiffer than in its rivals.

Audi Q2 1.6 TDI Sport

Price: £24,500
Engine: 1.6-litre, four-cylinder, diesel
Power: 114bhp
Torque: 184lb ft
0-60mph: 10.4sec
Top speed: 122mph
Fuel economy: 64.2mpg
CO2 emissions: 114g/km

Interior

When it comes to the cabin, the Mini struggles to regain lost ground. The Ateca’s functional dash and Q2’s slick one make their rival’s look confusing in comparison, and the Countryman’s driving position is the hardest to get right.

At least the Mini is bigger and more practical in the back than the Audi, while the Seat trumps them both for rear seat accommodation. The Spanish car also has the biggest load space, with the Mini’s well shaped boot following close behind. The Q2’s is the smallest.

Sat-nav is standard fit on all three models, but the Countryman’s smaller screen seems more low rent than its rivals’. It can be upgraded with the thoroughly worthwhile Media Pack, which pushes the Mini to the top of the overall infotainment chart here. In standard form, though, the Audi has the best system, while the Seat’s crisp screen is almost as big.

Running costs

Once discounts are applied, the Q2 costs the most to buy and the Countryman the least. Over three years, however, the Ateca works out the cheapest option taking into consideration depreciation, servicing and fuel. Owners save £1200 over the Countryman and £2000 over the Q2.

Buying on finance muddies the water, with the Audi costing £247 a month, compared to £275 for the Ateca and £283 for the Countryman. Business users will pay about the same BIK for all three models, although speccing up the Audi and Mini to the Seat’s high standard level will add to their purchase price and thus push up tax costs.

Mini Countryman Cooper D 

Price: £24,425
Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, diesel
Power: 148bhp
Torque: 243lb ft
0-60mph: 9.4sec
Top speed: 129mph
Economy: 65.7mpg
CO2 emissions: 113g/km

The Ateca’s shining performance in virtually every area sees it emerge as the overall winner of this triple test. Forget badge snobbery; it outpaces the others here on many levels, from price to family-friendly practicality to the driving experience. Next comes the Audi, whose class shines through a mixed bag of results and which has an impressive drive and tempting finance costs.

The Mini comes last. It’s practical, sure, but the driving experience doesn’t live up to expectations. Meanwhile, the cabin isn’t outstanding and its monthly PCP costs are the costliest here. It fails in its challenge of the small SUV class champs.

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