More like a performance car than an SUV
"Sportier cousin of the hot-selling Audi Q5."
"The SQ5 feels quick on its heels, responding to even the lightest throttle inputs and grunting its way through the transmission ratios," said Ershad.
Quattro permanent all-wheel drive set-up ensured that the SQ5 remained tame even on the trickiest track."
"The SQ5 is happy to be pushed hard!"
Nothing more excites an auto addict than a pumped up variant of a daily drive. These hyper avatars normally come with red or blacked out accents for visual I.D. along with the tuned up units under the hood. Under-rated looks are the key here!
Approaching the ever-familiar neighborhood roundabout with a wee bit more speed than usual, I was expecting to make heroic steering maneuvers or be standing on the brake pedal! Thankfully I was spared from either, even though I was driving an SUV. Bang in the middle of the flat-bottomed steering wheel was the iconic four ring badge with a red ‘S’ badge below it.
So, it’s an Audi… It’s the ‘S’ version…and it’s an SUV. You guessed it right; it’s the 2018 Audi SQ5- the sportier cousin of the hot-selling Audi Q5.
After exiting the roundabout rather calmly, the SQ5 was happy to be pushed hard. Quattro permanent all-wheel drive set-up ensured that the SQ5 remained tame even on the trickiest track. The well-shaped and supportive front seats on the new Audi keep you in place on those high-speed exits and quick direction changes. Nappa leather splashed on the seats adds to the ‘plushy’ comfort. The Q5 is not a full-size SUV and hence there is a certain level of handling prowess that comes with the compact dimensions. On the S version the firmer suspension settings and the bigger wheels wake up your racer instincts. Suspension duties are handled by newly-developed five-link up front and rear; while a new electromechanical steering unit with optional dynamic steering blends sportiness and comfort on a new level. Wheel selective torque control makes sure that turn-ins are handled in the gentlest possible manner with no hint of understeer or oversteer. During dynamic cornering, the car’s computers provide light braking on the inside wheels to further improve handling confidence. All this techno-mechanical stuff allows you to seamlessly enjoy the drive experience without caring for complex road surface computations and algorithms!
Further making your time spent behind the wheel worthwhile is the Virtual Cockpit, which is an option on the standard Q5, but is part of standard equipment on the SQ5. A high-resolution 12.3-inch display lights up in the most brilliant manner. The display can either be configured as classic round dial graphics or can be set up for navigation and vehicle settings. A multi media interface (MMI) 8.3-inch display with touchpad integrated push-button now supports zoom gestures and handwritten commands common in household gadgets. The new MMI features operating logic based on today’s smart phones. A new head-up display also finds its way into the SQ5 cockpit and displays all vital information clearly on the windscreen.
The SQ5 claims to seat five comfortably but I would agree on four, especially because the rear seats are three-way foldable. This configuration allows for versatile cargo loading options. The slight improvement in the wheelbase has resulted in a marginal increase in cargo area but more essentially has allowed for more legroom. The Bang & Olufsen sound system features innovative 3D sound tech, which can immerse you in your favorite soundtracks.
The peppy SQ5 gathers its entire grunt from a 3.0-liter V6 petrol engine, which has a twin-scroll turbocharger bolted on to it in place of the supercharger on the previous model. Power output remains the same as before at 354 horsepower, but there is an improvement in overall efficiency. The lively unit keeps up a constant torque of 500 Nm settled from as low as 1,370 rpm all the way up to 4,500 rpm. Working in conjunction with a smooth shifting eight-speed transmission, the aluminum engine consumes only 9.5 liters per 100 kilometers. These figures are respectable considering that the SQ5 develops almost 100 horsepower more compared to the standard Q5. The SQ5 feels quick on its heels, responding to even the lightest throttle inputs and grunting its way through the transmission ratios. The V6 soundtrack is enjoyable with enough splutters in sports mode. Featuring shorter ratios on the lower gears and vice versa as you shift upwards, the Tiptronic transmission is designed to keep oneself entertained on city drives and work on better efficiency during long drives. A sprint to 100 km/h from standstill is completed in 5.4 seconds and the SQ5 can keep going until 250 km/h unless you decide to release your right foot! The SQ5 loves to be driven in the urban environment and will make sure that you never get bored.
When you finally decide to have a breather for a sip of steaming karak and allow the V6 to cool off for a bit, that is when you get to admire the exterior design of the new SQ5. The slab-sided design familiar on the new Q7 and Q5 models looks great on the SQ5 as well. Compared to its predecessor, the new model looks sharp and edgy. One of the best updates on the SQ5 would be the sleek, body-colored rearview mirrors compared to the bulky units on the previous model. I hated those RVMs so so much!
The front end is sleek and is essentially composed of a lot of grilles and slats which point towards a performance oriented machine. The single frame grille flaunted by class-leading matrix LED headlamps is unmistakably Audi and lend a modern muscle look. A characteristic full-length shoulder line highlights the profile and emphasized wheel arches. Monstrous 21-inch wheels would be the center of attention here any time. The rear end features the typical wrap-around C pillars which are an Audi Q range trademark. Taillight cluster is much cleaner and modern compared to the previous SQ5. The diffuser on the rear end looks a bit complicated and I’d much prefer a crispier exhaust pipe arrangement.
The new SQ5 features top of the segment safety and driver aids as well. The complete package is called ‘City assist with Parking assist’. This includes Cross Traffic Assist rear, Exit Warning System, Collision Avoidance Assist and Turn Assist. Park Assist and Hill Descent Assist also form a part of this package.
Shod with 225/45 size tires on 21-inch wheels, the SQ5 is not essentially your off-road buddy. Best enjoyed on tarmac, the new Audi SQ5 is definitely a class leader in its segment and will be a competition benchmark. It holds on to its heritage of a fun sporty SUV with the trust and value of an iconic German marque.
Now let’s hope that someone starts working on an RS Q5!!
Pros: Performance, better fuel economy, quick gear shifts, cabin premium material, good handling, improved infotainment
Cons: Not too off-road friendly, at times you forget it’s an SUV (now, is that a pro or a con?), price bracket is on the higher side
Rivals: Porsche Macan Turbo, BMW X3, Jaguar F-PACE, Mercedes GLC63, Alfa Romeo Stelvio QV
3.0L twin-scroll turbocharged TFSI V6, 354 hp @ 6,000-6,500 rpm, 500 Nm @ 1,370-4,500 rpm
8-speed dual-clutch transmission, Quattro permanent AWD
0-100 km/h: 5.4 secs, top speed: 250 km/h (electronically-limited), fuel consumption: 9.5 L/100 km
Weight: 1,525 kg
one word: hot hatch on stilts