Used 2015 Audi SQ5 Review

Edmunds expert review

The 2015 Audi SQ5 is a performance-oriented version of one of our favorite luxury crossovers, the Q5. For a reasonable price premium, the SQ5 delivers the same practicality and superior performance.




What's new for 2015

The 2015 Audi SQ5 receives only minor equipment changes.

Vehicle overview

The 2015 Audi SQ5 is a high-performance version of the Audi Q5, a small entry-level luxury crossover. To set it apart, Audi gives the SQ5 more horsepower, a sport-tuned suspension and just enough styling tweaks to identify it as something special. If you're looking for a lively experience in an otherwise practical and upscale SUV, the 2015 SQ5 is one of the best options for the money.

Even if you think of the 2015 Audi SQ5 as simply the top trim level of the standard Q5, it still feels pretty special. With 82 more horsepower than the Q5 3.0T, it's significantly quicker when you give it the crop. Moreover, the upgraded brakes on the SQ5 are unusually responsive, joining forces with the athletic suspension to give this crossover a distinctly sporty feel. Interior improvements are less dramatic, as the Q5 already has one of the nicest cabins around, but upgraded elements like a flat-bottom steering wheel and sport seats add some welcome flair.

It's not easy to find flaws in the SQ5's formula, but they do exist. The first two also apply to the regular Q5. Cargo capacity is relatively modest with the rear seatbacks folded down, and the base MMI infotainment system's dash-mounted controls can be difficult to reach. A third, SQ5-specific complaint is that the steering feels detached and artificial, particularly during spirited driving. That's not a complaint we'd typically lodge against an SUV, but it's relevant here given the SQ5's sporting pretensions.

If you want to maximize your thrills in this segment, check out the SQ5's cross-town cousin, the 2015 Porsche Macan. The Macan actually began life as a Q5, but Porsche's engineers transformed it into a virtual four-door sports car (albeit with even less cargo space than the Audi), and the base Macan's pricing starts in SQ5 territory. The more affordable 2015 BMW X3 is also an excellent driver's car, and it returns better fuel economy than the SQ5, although performance won't be as stunning. If you're willing to go smaller, don't sleep on the 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG, a cute ute that packs a 355-hp punch. But when it comes to all-around performance and practicality at this price point, the 2015 Audi SQ5 is tough to top.




Trim levels & features

The 2015 Audi SQ5 is a compact, five-passenger luxury crossover offered in two trim levels: Premium Plus and Prestige.

Standard equipment on the Premium Plus includes 20-inch alloy wheels with summer tires, high-performance brakes, a sport-tuned suspension, automatic xenon headlights with washers, LED running lights and taillights, S-specific body trim (including the signature metal-look mirror housings), aluminum roof rails, heated/auto-dimming/power-folding mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, a panoramic sunroof, a rear roof spoiler, a power liftgate and quad exhaust tips.

There's also keyless entry and ignition, heated eight-way power front sport seats (with four-way lumbar adjustment), a flat-bottom tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with shift paddles, leather and simulated suede upholstery, tri-zone automatic climate control, adjustable drive settings (covering throttle response, transmission programming and steering assist), a sliding and reclining 40/20/40-split rear seat, Bluetooth phone connectivity, the base Multi Media Interface (MMI) with a dash-mounted controller, and a 10-speaker sound system with a CD player, Audi's proprietary digital music interface, an auxiliary audio jack and satellite radio.

The optional Technology package adds front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, a blind-spot monitor, a color driver information display, voice controls, Bluetooth audio connectivity, HD radio, Audi Connect online services (with mobile WiFi capability) and an upgraded version of MMI with a navigation system and a more ergonomic MMI controller that's mounted on the center console.

The Prestige adds the Technology package as standard, and it also boasts adaptive headlights, a 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, a heated/cooled cupholder and rear door sunshades. The Prestige is additionally eligible for the Driver Assist package, which adds adaptive cruise control and variable-ratio steering.

Optional on both models is the Luxury package, which adds extended premium leather upholstery and ventilated front seats, and the High Gloss Black package, which gets you gloss-black exterior trim, body-color mirrors and matte-black roof rails. Other options include 21-inch wheels, extended leather upholstery and rear side airbags.



Performance & mpg

The 2015 Audi SQ5 is powered by a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 engine rated at 354 horsepower and 346 pound-feet of torque. All-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission are standard. In Edmunds performance testing, the SQ5 hustled from zero to 60 mph in just 5.0 seconds. For context, the lesser Q5 3.0T took 5.8 seconds.

EPA-estimated fuel economy for the SQ5 is 19 mpg combined (17 city/24 highway). On Edmunds' standard 120-mile evaluation loop, which favors highway travel, we averaged about 21 mpg.

Safety

Standard safety equipment for the Audi SQ5 includes antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags and side curtain airbags.Rear side airbags are optional on both trim levels. The Technology package (optional on Premium Plus, standard on Prestige) consists of a blind-spot monitor, front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera. The Driver Assist package (Prestige only) adds adaptive cruise control.

In Edmunds brake testing, the SQ5 stopped from 60 mph in an astounding 103 feet, putting it on par with some very capable sports cars.

In government crash tests, the SQ5 earned four out of five stars for overall crash protection, with four stars for total frontal-impact safety and five stars for total side-impact safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the similar Q5 its highest rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength crash tests. The Q5's seat and head restraint design was also rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.

Driving

The SQ5's supercharged V6 engine is basically a juiced-up version of the regular Q5's "3.0T" V6, but it's a very appealing juice nonetheless. The SQ5 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 Q5 3.0T is a quick crossover in its own right (and it's significantly cheaper), but its acceleration just isn't as thrilling.

The SQ5's sport-tuned suspension and tires give it plenty of grip and stability when you're driving enthusiastically around turns. It's a marvel, then, that the ride quality remains tolerable, even with the standard 20-inch wheels and tires (though all bets are off with the optional 21s). We can see how the SQ5's firmness might turn off typical Q5 customers, but if you're drawn to the elevated performance of Audi's S lineup, you likely won't be disappointed. The SQ5's main dynamic drawback is its steering, which provides little feedback or communication to the driver; it's the kind of the thing you can forgive on the regular Q5, but on the high-performance version, it's a little disappointing.

Interior

The SQ5 has all the classy cabin elements you expect from Audi, along with sport-themed additions like a flat-bottom steering wheel with shift paddles, simulated suede trim and an exquisite leather/aluminum shift knob. You'll also find aluminum pedals, plenty of "SQ5" badges and the S lineup's trademark gray instrument faces. It's a well-executed makeover of what was already a very nice interior.

Less well executed is the SQ5's standard MMI system, which borrows its dash-mounted controller from the base Q5. The controller and its associated buttons require an uncomfortable reach for longer-legged drivers, while the software is a bit outdated and not very intuitive. Conversely, navigation-equipped models get an upgraded MMI system with a convenient console-mounted controller knob that's easier to use, not to mention a novel joystick button on the knob for enhanced control, Google Maps satellite imagery, simplified Google search for places of interest and mobile WiFi capability.

Although 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 default legroom as well as slide-and-recline functionality -- not a given in this segment.

With the rear seatbacks folded, the SQ5 can haul up to 57.3 cubic feet of cargo, which is on the low side compared to standard luxury crossovers. Notably, the distantly related Porsche Macan is even worse off with its 51-cubic-foot maximum. The cargo area behind the SQ5's rear seats measures a more standard 29.1 cubic feet, dwarfing the Macan's 17.7 cubes.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.