Audi SQ5

A 'Pro' version of the Q5

"The SQ5 is essentially the 'sporty' version of the usual Q5."

"A trained eye can spot bigger air intakes compared to the Q5, and a lowered look."

"The exhaust note is sharp and the V6 at full blast feels like music!"

"Please do not change the engine. We just love it!" said Suraj.

At first glance, you could miss it. You'd think it's the same old with just a new exhaust system. The 2016 Audi SQ5 looks so much like its brother, the Q5. The SQ5 is essentially the 'sporty' version of the usual Q5.

Changes to the exterior are very subtle. Horizontal double bars on the radiator grille show the SQ5 belongs to the Audi family. A trained eye can spot bigger air intakes compared to the Q5 and a lowered look. The SQ5 sits 30mm lower than the Q5 which helps enhance the aesthetic and dynamic characteristics. One very distinctive feature was the exterior mirrors finished in aluminum look, which I was not a very big fan of. The mirrors looked oversized and the aluminum finish doesn't really help here. Maybe it should have half the mirror covers painted black just like on the bigger Q7. Viewed from the rear, the SQ5 flaunts its quad exhaust pipes housed within a special diffuser. The huge 21-inch wheels would be a quick way to differentiate the SQ5 from its brother.

Pop the hood and that is where the entire 'S' for the SQ5 is. A 3.0-liter supercharged V6 is put on duty. Generating around 354-hp and 470 Nm of torque, the SQ5 is serious about going fast. The sprint from standstill to 100 km/h is done in 5.3 seconds, which is the best in its class and can go all the way up to the electronically limited 250 km/h if you keep the right foot planted. The V6 is a free revving unit with peak power being developed around 6,000 to 6,500 rpm and peak torque around 4,000 to 4,500 rpm. The supercharger is specially designed to reduce the consumption of engine power for its functioning thereby increasing the overall efficiency. Power is transferred to all four wheels by the Quattro permanent all-wheel drive system through an eight-speed Tiptronic box. The transmission shifts effortlessly between ratios with a certain feel of urgency and you also get shift paddles on the steering wheel for some fun downshifts if you feel like it.

Right from the word "Go" the SQ5 demonstrates the fantastic traits of a performance vehicle. Straight-line acceleration is brisk and the SQ5 takes corners like a pro. The shock absorbers and springs have been firmed up to keep the SQ5 composed during corner attacks! There is close to zero body roll and you steer in and out of corners just like driving a hatchback. Yes, it is that easy! Part of this is due to the 255/40 section tires, as well, which provide ample amounts of grip under all conditions. Steering feel is precise and sharp, thanks to the electromechanical steering used on the SQ5. For a vehicle with such performance figures, stopping power needs to be well above average. Disc brakes all around provide excellent stopping power with the ones on the front axles bearing the SQ5 badge. Exhaust systems play a very vital role in any performance vehicle by providing the right sounds at the right times which contribute a lot towards driver feel. The exhaust note is sharp and the V6 at full blast feels like music!

The interiors of the SQ5 are dressed in typical performance-luxury specification. The majority of the interior is finished in black with brushed aluminum inlays. Open the door and you settle into a power-adjustable sports seat covered in Nappa leather and Alcantara. The upholstery is in a diamond-quilted design, which improves the touch-feel, as well as looks great. Grey dials with white numbers, aluminum finish on the shift paddles and pedals, all help in transferring the exterior sportiness to the interior as well. The only downside in the SQ5 interior is the lack of a good infotainment system. The one in it works fine but feels like the Stone Age compared to newer units on the new Q7 and the like. Bang & Olufsen speakers take care of the music lover in you by giving out the crispest sounds.

Verdict
On the whole, the SQ5 is more of a hot hatch than an SUV. It seats four comfortably, goes like a rocket and holds good on corners! Even though the suspension felt ok for me, some drivers may complain about the suspension being too stiff for daily commutes. The only major concern would be the targeted customers for the SQ5: at this price, there are a variety of cars for the customer to look at. The SQ5 will need a refresh in its interiors before it is ready to go against the competition and we hope that Audi guys are already working on it. Just one suggestion – please do not change the engine. We just love it!

Pros: Performance, quick gearshifts, cabin premium material, good handling
Cons: Infotainment needs an upgrade, price bracket is on the higher side
Rivals: Porsche Macan Turbo, Mercedes-AMG GLC43 4MATIC, BMW X3, Jaguar F-PACE S
Engine: 3.0-liter TFSI V6, 354 hp @ 6,000-6,500 rpm, 470 Nm @ 4,000-4,500 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed Tiptronic, AWD quattro
Performance: 0-100 km/h: 5.3 sec, top speed: 250 km/h, fuel consumption: 12.6 L/100 km,
Weight: 2,008 kg
one word: Supercharged Utility Vehicle
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