The 2014 Audio SQ5 brings a whole new meaning to the term “crossover”.
You see, most crossovers are simply SUV bodies mounted on a car chassis. The early SUVs were built on a truck chassis until carmakers realized that the people buying them really don’t want that kind of ride. They want comfort. But is that all they want?
You see the Audi SQ5 isn’t a cross between an SUV and a regular car. One drive and you’ll realize it’s a cross between an SUV and a sports car. And it brings both halves together very well.
Let’s start with the power. The SQ5′s 354 horsepower 3 liter supercharged V6 takes it solidly into the performance range. That’s 21 more than the regular Q5 (which is no slouch). Audi’s website say the SQ5 will do 0-60 in 5.1 seconds. That is awesome for an SUV. Mileage is about what you’d expect for that kind of performance, 16 mpg city and 23 mpg highway. It uses premium fuel.
The engine is mated to a ZF 8-speed automatic that knows just how to deliver the shifts you want. When you’re going for maximum acceleration, the gearbox waits that little extra bit to take advantage of the torque range. It’s actually fun to hear the car work its way through the gears (plus it has a great throaty sound).
The SQ5 lets you customize the Quattro all-wheel-drive ride. You choose the settings that are just right for you. The average driver won’t notice much, but anyone who gets the chance to drive a curvy road with gusto will be able to figure out the differences. The Audi S-tuned suspension will make sure you’re in control.
The interior is perfect. Upscale without opulence. You get subtle reminders that you own something special with the SQ5 designations on the shift knob and the instrument panel. The Audi technology system takes a little getting used to. It has a round dial conveniently placed near where your right hand will rest on the center console. It’s surrounded by four buttons that help you to navigate through the various electronic needs. It all works great, once you know it well enough to stop thinking about what button does what.
If you’re going to knock something, pick on the cargo space. With all the seats folded flat, it holds 57.3 cu.ft. Not bad, but not at the upper end of the SUV range. But then, maybe we should really be comparing it to two-seater sports cars.
You can choose either the Premium Plus version starting at $51,900, or for an extra $7,000 you can bump up to the Prestige which includes things like side assist, adaptive headlights, Audi’s parking system and the ever-so-critical thermo cup holder. My test car also had the Nappa leather seats, aluminum and black wood inlays and 21 inch wheels. Final sticker price was $64,195. It comes with a 4 year/50,000 mile warranty.
The only real performance SUV in this price range is the Jeep Cherokee SRT8. While it delivers plenty of bang for the buck as well, I think the SQ5 is likely to win once you hit the slalom course.
The SQ5 doesn’t look much different from a standard Q5 on the outside. Just some subtle badging. The best way to tell will be getting a good luck at the driver. They likely have a much bigger smile.