2014 Audi SQ5 Quattro SUV (3.0L V6 Supercharger AWD 8-speed Automatic)
Driven On 5/28/2014
About the only other small SUV that's as seriously sporting as Audi's SQ5 is Porsche's Macan. There's no question the little Audi is a remarkable performer, but its stiff ride and steep price mean it will be of interest to just a select few people. Those who do buy it will get to revel in its wonderful supercharged V6 engine.
PerformanceThe SQ5 performs pretty much as it should. It's sneaky quick, thanks to a powerful engine which puts a grin on your face every time you hit the gas pedal. We recorded a downright amazing panic-stop distance. Stiff suspension and sticky tires help it take corners with ease.
What an engine! A 3.0-liter supercharged V6 with 354 hp, combined with all-wheel drive and quick-shifting 8-speed automatic. The SQ5 blisters to 60 mph in just 5.0 sec., with plenty of power for any passing maneuver. Sounds great, too.
Our measured panic-stop distance was just 103 feet, thanks in part to summer performance tires. Stopping distances were super-consistent with zero pedal fade. Around town the brakes provided smooth, strong power with no touchiness.
The steering is adjustable, via Audi Drive Select, between Auto, Comfort and Dynamic. We preferred the higher-effort feel of the Dynamic setting in testing. It turns in sharply but it doesn't deliver a whole lot of feel to the driver.
An intrusive stability control system adversely affected our instrumented handling numbers. But on back roads the SQ5 was superb, devouring turns with ease. Although the ride is stiff, it remained composed over bumps.
Supple gas pedal action, easy-to-modulate brakes, a smart and smooth-shifting transmission and a nice, small overall size. Instant power from the supercharged engine. The stiff ride can be annoying on pothole-strewn streets.
All-wheel drive will only get you so far off-road with the SQ5's stiff suspension and low-profile summer tires. This vehicle was designed with on-road driving in mind.
ComfortAlthough the leather-covered sports seats are comfortable for all-day touring, the aggressively-tuned suspension will prove too harsh for anyone looking for a luxurious daily driver. Despite its sporty intentions, the SQ5 is pretty quiet inside thanks to good sound deadening materials.
Well-padded leather sport seats are firm but stay comfortable all day. Big side bolsters hold you in place during cornering. Door and center armrests are minimally padded. Rear seats are firm and you'll want them reclined to maximum rake.
The SQ5 rides pretty harsh on its sport suspension, and it can get quite jouncy around town. You feel every bump and pothole, and they shake the car enough that you hear them too. Even bumpy highways can turn things jiggly.
The engine is so quiet when cruising that you barely notice it. Not intrusive at full throttle, either, though turning the engine sound setting to Dynamic brings a wonderfully throaty roar. There is noticeable tire hum over coarse surfaces.
InteriorWe had some minor ergonomic issues related to the climate controls, but overall the SQ5 is a nice place to be, with easy entry/exit and surprisingly good headroom front and rear. The anti-tip tabs on the cupholders are a necessity for a vehicle with such cornering prowess.
Most controls are well placed, gauges easy to read. MMI infotainment system works well for audio use, but climate control functions require extra steps. Lacks USB port. If you move the center armrest forward, it'll crush your drink.
Pretty easy to get in/out up front with a natural step-in height, but seats do have bigger bolsters than most. Short doors open nice and wide. Rear entryway is small even though doors open wide; leg will contact wheelwell.
No shortage of front headroom, even with standard sunroof. Door cutouts give generous elbow room. Rear headroom only a problem for tall adults, but door-side elbow room is cramped. Narrow foot space under front seats thanks to seat rails.
Overall pretty good sightlines, with narrow roof pillars, tall side windows and wide rear glass. Optional backup camera screen isn't large, but does have parking lines. Large side mirrors can be hard to see around.
Decent-sized center bin, large door pockets, but no front bin. Cupholders have anti-tip tabs. Rear seats fold easily from trunk with one-touch levers. Standard power tailgate opens high to 29.1 cu-ft trunk, or 57.3 cu-ft with seats down.
ValueThe truest competitor to the SQ5 is Porsche's all-new Macan, with which it shares some components. The Macan S is a little down on horsepower, but is also a bit cheaper. BMW's X3 xDrive35i also costs less than the SQ5, but doesn't offer the Audi's blistering straight-line speed.
Build Quality (vs. $)
Interior surfaces have nice textures for an upscale look/feel. Controls have a distinct heft and click, it's sturdy and well built. We did notice an occasional trim piece rattle over sharp bumps, partially because this car is so stiff.
At its $51,900 base price the SQ5 comes with all-wheel drive, a sunroof, power tailgate, leather/Alcantra front sport seats with heat and 8-way power and three-zone climate control. Notably absent is a standard reaview camera.
Our test car had the $7,500 Prestige package, which adds blind-spot monitoring, adaptive headlights, manual rear sunshades, a Thermo cupholder, a fantastic Bang & Olufsen sound system, navigation and rearview camera. But it costs $7,500!
The EPA rates the SQ5 at 19 mpg Combined (16 City/23 Highway), nearly identical to the Porsche Macan S but below the BMW X3 xDrive35i and Volvo XC60 T6 Drive-E. We averaged 19.0 mpg, including 20.9 mpg on our 116-mile evaluation loop.
Audi's 4-year/50,000-mile basic and powertrain warranties are similar to the BMW X3 and Porsche Macan.
The SQ5 offers four years of roadside assistance plus the first scheduled maintenance is free. BMWs, though, come with free maintenance for 4 years/50,000 miles.
Fun To DriveIn the right setting, most particularly a back road or any on-ramp, the Audi SQ5 is a blast to drive. It handles twisty two-lanes superbly, with sharp turn-in and a suspension tuned for aggressive driving. The quick-shifting paddle-shift transmission adds to the fun.
The ride quality (or lack thereof) will be a problem for anyone who isn't an enthusiastic driver. And even for some that are. Still, mostly this is a good driving experience, thanks largely to the sweet and smooth supercharged V6.
Unlike humans, you can change the SQ5's personality via the Audi Drive Select function, which lets you alter the mapping of the engine/transmission, the steering effort and the engine sound between Dynamic, Auto and Comfort.
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