The sound of that supercharger is intoxicating |
There are no compromises made, and it’s one of the most versatile SUVs on the road today.
As someone who isn’t an SUV guy, and as a single guy who has no real use for an SUV, it’s typically difficult for me to determine usability and versatility of these things. However, sometimes things are a lot easier than they appear. I borrowed a 2015 Audi SQ5 for a week, a vehicle I tested at the time of its launch last year, but wanted to get to know a bit better. Seriously speaking, I’m almost at that stage where I need to start thinking about settling down and making some decisions about the next chapters of my life, and a crossover or sport-utility-vehicle (emphasis on the “sport”) is likely part of this change.
The SQ5 is based on the increasingly-popular Q5 sport-utility, a breadwinner for Audi and a volume-selling vehicle in the Canadian market. However, the Q5 no longer has a gasoline V6 option, though the 3.2L was initially offered. Audi’s S-line is known to pack power as well as handling improvements, stronger forced induction, and more muscle overall without sacrificing any creature comforts, and the SQ5 is no different. It mostly shares its powertrain and tuning with the Audi S4, which is truly one of my favourite cars on the road today. One thing I would change though is that there aren’t enough visual cues to differentiate the SQ5 from the regular Q5 line.
What makes the SQ5 so special is its 3.0L supercharged V6 engine, denoted by the rather confusing “V6T” badges on the front fenders. No, it’s not turbocharged as well, and it does without this just fine. This motor sports 354 horsepower at 6000rpm and 347 lb-ft of torque at 4000rpm. It’s seriously quick, there’s no doubt about it. Even more intoxicating than the feeling of the SQ5 rocketing to highway speed is the noise that the supercharged-six makes; it’s one of the best engine notes out there today, and definitely the best V6 engine note. The torque is just monstrous, and it will keep a smirk on the driver’s face very single second spent behind the wheel. On acceleration, torque is literally instantaneous; it’s always on tap and there’s no lag as there would be with a turbocharger.
SUVs are typically not known for their handling prowess, but exceptions must be made sometimes. The SQ5’s sticky tires (19” winter rubber, in this case) and unique suspension tuning help it remain a competent handler when dodging obstacles on our pothole-ridden city streets. My tester did have the box ticked off for the 21” wheels on performance all-season tires, but this being a frigid Canadian winter, I didn’t have the chance to sample these. Even on the 19s though, the SUV was exceptionally competent and handled the conditions with ease. Ride quality on the smaller wheels was excellent while emphasizing that this is still a sporty SUV.
The steering is feather-light at parking lot speeds, making parallel and reverse parking a cinch, but tightens up when going faster in order to minimize the need for overcorrection. It’s an especially precise unit with near-perfect accuracy, but lacks the passionate feedback of older hydraulic units. Additionally, it’s important to mention that the steering wheel is positioned a little bit awkwardly. It’s angled up towards the driver, and it was difficult for my 6’1/175 self to find my sweet spot in terms of driving position.
Rather than Audi’s S-tronic 7-speed dual-clutch unit, the SQ5 has the brilliant ZF 8-speed automatic we’ve experienced in numerous other applications, including Audi’s own RS7. It’s an excellent unit with Tiptronic function (and paddle shifters here), and it’s almost unnoticeable that it’s not a dual-clutch box. The throttle response from the supercharged motor is only improved by the quick-reacting transmission; it’s as if the SQ5 senses your next move and the transmission downshifts accordingly, pretty slick.
Winter isn’t exactly the ideal time to accurately determine fuel economy, especially for vehicles with forced induction. The SQ5 is rated for 13.2L/100km in the city and 8.5L/100km on the highway when running on premium fuel. I actually did one better and tried 94-octane in it, and I still wasn’t able to do much better than 14.6L/100km in combined driving. My week consisted of about 600km of highway driving and 200km within the city, and this week was also one of the coldest we had this winter. One neat thing about Audis is that one of the trips in the trip computer will reset every time the car is started, so it’s easy to see how much fuel it’s consumed on each specific drive. During certain highway runs on slightly warmer days, I was able to see as low as 10.8L/100km.
At just under 4,500lbs, this 2015 Audi SQ5 isn’t exactly light. When you begin to consider the amount of options and creature comforts within the SUV though, it all begins to make sense. The heated Nappa leather seats are especially comfortable, and there’s ample legroom for both front and rear passengers. Audi Drive Select allows the driver to customize drive modes, between Dynamic, Comfort, Auto, and Individual. There’s a huge panoramic sunroof, which I definitely did not make use of because of the cold temperatures. Audi’s MMI infotainment system is still fantastic, but I assume the newer software seen in the A3 and hot new S3 will make its way to the SQ5 in coming refreshes, due soon. My SQ5 also had the $1,000 option box ticked off for the Bang & Olufsen stereo, capable of delivering beautiful music to this audophile’s ears.
The Daytona Grey Pearl Effect paint equipped here is an $890 option, and I’d opt for either this or the stunning Sepang Blue, one of my favourites in the Audi colour palate. The 21” wheels add $1000, the rear sunshades $300, Carbon Atlas Inlays on the dashboard another $500, and finally, $2800 for the Navigation Package (which also adds the rear-view camera). The as-tested price on this particular SQ5 was just over $65,000. This isn’t particularly high, considering comparable sport-utilities like the Mercedes-Benz GLK, the Lexus NX200t and the BMW X3 don’t offer performance models. Plus, the SQ5 can be had well-equipped for under $60,000, and quattro all-wheel-drive is standard on all Q5 models sold in Canada.
When looking at performance SUVs, we’re limited to the larger models, such as the BMW X5/X6M, the Porsche Cayenne, and Mercedes-Benz ML63. The only real competitor this Audi SQ5 has is its own cousin, the Porsche Macan. The advantage to the SQ5 is the fact that it can be driven every single day of the year, no matter what the weather may be, for everyday family duties or as a work commuter. There are no compromises made, and it’s one of the most versatile SUVs on the road today. Simply for the sheer amount of performance this vehicle delivers without sacrificing an ounce of utility or overall adaptability, the 2015 Audi SQ5 is truly unbeatable in its segment, and I’d be happy to step into my garage and look at one every single day.
2015 Audi SQ5 Gallery