14 AUDI SQ5 first drive
By Dave Van Sickle
The 2014 Audi SQ5 is a new high-performance variant of the existing Q5 crossover that moves this five-passenger compact another notch upscale. By using the same luxurious materials found in the Q and adding desirable features like the flat-bottom steering wheel, shift paddles, an exquisite leather/aluminum shift knob and "SQ5" badges, Audi has made the SQ5 an appealing package.
Aluminum-trimmed pedals , premium fine Nappa leather and contrasting stitching add a touch of class to an already upscale interior. The exterior features a platinum gray Audi Singleframe grille, integrated tailgate spoiler and quad exhaust outlets with polished tips. Technology has always been the driving force at Audi. Intuitive available features unite driver and vehicle like never before. Audi drive select allows you to tailor performance variables for the road you're on. Adaptive headlights help assure the road is visible, even around corners by turning up to 15 degrees to illuminate your path
In keeping with its performance image, the SQ5 is equipped with an upgraded version of the regular Q5's "3.0T" V6, a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 engine that produces 354 horsepower and 346 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive are standard. Audi says a sprint from 0 to 60 mph takes just 5.1 seconds. Fuel economy is 18 mpg combined (16 city/23 highway), according to the EPA. The SQ5's supercharged V6 engine boasts an extra 82 hp and 51 lb-ft of torque, and that's a difference you can feel. Acceleration is rapid at practically any speed.
The very long list of standard equipment on the Premium Plus includes 20-inch wheels, summer tires, performance brakes, a lowered sport-tuned suspension, xenon headlights, LED running lights, S-specific body trim, auto-dimming/power-folding mirrors, automatic wipers, a panoramic sunroof, a rear roof spoiler, a power liftgate, quad exhaust tips and keyless ignition/entry.
The list goes on with heated eight-way power front sport seats with four-way lumbar adjustment, a flat-bottom tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leather upholstery, tri-zone automatic climate control, adjustable drive settings for throttle response, transmission programming and steering assist, a sliding /reclining 40/20/40-split rear seat, Bluetooth connectivity, Audi's base Multi Media Interface (MMI) with a dash-mounted controller, and a 10-speaker sound system with a CD player, an iPod/USB input, an auxiliary audio jack and satellite radio.
The Prestige adds adaptive headlights, a blind-spot monitoring system, a 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, a heated/cooled cupholder, rear door sunshades and the Audi MMI Navigation Plus package, which includes rear parking sensors, a navigation system, a color driver information display, digital music storage, voice controls, a rearview camera, HD radio, "Audi Connect" online services (with mobile WiFi capability), and a more ergonomic MMI controller that's mounted on the center console.
Some of the Prestige's standard features are available on the Premium Plus as options, including the upgraded MMI package. You can also get the Driver Assist package that includes adaptive cruise control and variable-ratio steering. The optional Comfort package comes with upgraded leather trim and ventilated front seats.Several stand-alone options include 21-inch wheels, a rear-seat entertainment system with twin display screens, sunroof delete, rear side airbags and layered aluminum/wood inlays.
Even though the Q5 is considered a compact crossover, it has plenty of room for four good-sized adults. The front sport seats provide excellent support and adjustability, while the rear seats offer ample legroom as well as slide-and-recline functionality ,
The instant you install yourself in the bolstered driver seat, the superb interior materials and an adult-friendly backseat tell you this car is something special. Fire up that 354-horsepower supercharged V6 engine and there's a lively rapp from the quad tailpipes. Put the pedal to the metal and the SQ5 rockets forward. Drive it, we mean really drive it on a twisty mountain road and the S-specific sport suspension follows a tight line that is nothing short of satisfying.
The SQ5 sits about an inch lower than its competitors, and its sport-tuned suspension and grippy tires give it plenty of stability when you're driving enthusiastically. It’s a tribute to good engineering that the ride quality remains acceptable, even with the standard 20-inch wheels. A significant strength is the SQ5's steering, which provides plenty of feedback.
The SQ5's standard safety equipment is much the same as the regular Q5, including stability and traction control, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. Rear side airbags are optional on both models, while a blind-spot monitoring system is optional on the Premium Plus and standard on Prestige. The Audi MMI Navigation package includes rear parking sensors and a rearview camera. Whether facing mud, the snow or the torrential downpour,
Audi quattro all-wheel drive helps improve vehicle handling during inclement weather. During performance driving situations, the vehicle will sense reduced load or inner wheel spin and distribute power to the wheels that need it the most.
Much to Audi’s credit, that feeling is what Audi's S lineup is all about. It gives you the best of the regular Q5's virtues, but if a sport-biased crossover SUV is what you really want, this Audi is one of only a few models in this segment that can deliver. Our SQ5 test car was priced at $64,770. True, the SQ5 costs more than some competitors, but we think it’s worth it.