Used 2016 Audi SQ5 Review
Edmunds expert review
If you're looking for maximum performance from a compact luxury SUV, the 2016 Audi SQ5 likely delivers the spicier driving experience you're seeking. Read on to see how much fun you can have behind the wheel of this supercharged compact luxury SUV.
What's new for 2016
Compact luxury crossovers are exploding in popularity, but if you want a high-performance version, there are still only a few options. Standing tall among them is the 2016 Audi SQ5. Although this hopped-up model utilizes the same basic supercharged 3.0-liter V6 engine as the mainstream Q5 3.0T, it boasts about 30 percent more horsepower. The SQ5 also gains sportier suspension tuning, stronger brakes, subtle exterior styling enhancements and cool interior touches like sport seats, gray-faced gauges and newly available diamond-stitched leather surfaces.
The bigger wheels, silver mirrors and special badging are key differentiators between the SQ5 and the regular Q5.
Beyond that, you're largely looking at the same pros and cons as the regular Q5. The rear seat is pretty roomy as compact crossovers go, but maximum cargo capacity is less than the compact-crossover norm. Also, the SQ5's technology offerings, just like the Q5's, are a bit behind the curve. Bluetooth audio, for example, isn't standard on the base Premium Plus trim. Moreover, while Audi has started to add USB connectivity to its newer models, the aging Q5 family makes do with the company's old proprietary music interface, which just isn't as versatile.
If you want slightly superior performance and technology that's fully up to date, the Porsche Macan checks both boxes, though its humble cargo capacity makes the SQ5 seem commodious. Another option would be the BMW X3 in xDrive35i trim fitted with the vehicle's optional Dynamic Handling package. So equipped, it delivers engaging dynamics and more cargo space but marginally less straight-line speed. Now, there are going to be additional choices from Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz next year, but for now, the 2016 Audi SQ5 remains arguably the best all-around choice in this high-performance niche.
The One To Buy
We would recommend the SQ5 Premium Plus with the optional Technology package. It adds items that should really be standard (rearview camera and Bluetooth audio) along with things that most shoppers will appreciate (blind-spot warning, the Bang & Olufsen sound system and the better MMI system that comes with navigation).
Trim levels & features
The 2016 Audi SQ5 is a compact 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 folding rear seat, Bluetooth phone connectivity, the base Multi Media Interface (MMI) infotainment system with a dash-mounted controller and a 10-speaker sound system with satellite radio, a CD player, an SD-card slot, an auxiliary audio jack and Audi's proprietary digital music interface.
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), a 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system and an upgraded version of MMI with a navigation system, integrated Google services 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 heated and 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 Black Optic package, which gets you gloss-black exterior trim, body-color mirrors and matte-black roof rails. Other options include 21-inch wheels, red brake calipers, diamond-stitched leather upholstery and rear side airbags.
Quad tailpipes are special to the SQ5, but are tastefully applied, maintaining the Q5's handsome look.
Performance & mpg
The 2016 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 Q5 3.0T took 5.8 seconds with its less powerful version of the same engine, though a Macan Turbo can go from zero to 60 mph in just 4.4 seconds.
EPA-estimated fuel economy for the SQ5 is 19 mpg combined (17 city/24 highway). On Edmunds' diverse 120-mile evaluation loop, we averaged about 21 mpg.
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) adds 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 performance 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 has given the standard 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.
The SQ5's supercharged V6 engine is just a pumped-up variant of the regular Q5 3.0T's V6, but it's hard to dismiss the results. By the numbers, it cranks out an extra 82 hp and 51 lb-ft of torque, and that's a difference you'll feel every time you plant your right foot. The SQ5 moves out with a unique sense of urgency, lunging ahead like a finely tuned sports car. The substantially cheaper Q5 3.0T is a quick crossover in its own right, but its acceleration just isn't in the same league.
Not many crossovers inspire you to take the long and twisty route, but the SQ5 constantly entices with its sport-tuned suspension and performance tires. There's ample grip and stability, with little of the body roll that crossovers generally exhibit. The SQ5's main dynamic drawback is its steering, which feels artificial and provides little feedback or communication to the driver; it's the kind of thing you can forgive on the regular Q5, but on the high-performance version, it's a little disappointing. As for ride quality, typical Q5 customers will probably find it overly firm, but if you're drawn to the elevated performance of Audi's S lineup, the slight drop in comfort is well within the realm of acceptability.
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, plus exclusive options like diamond-stitched premium leather upholstery and trim. It's a well-executed makeover of what was already a very nice interior.
Less impressive is the SQ5's standard MMI system, which borrows its dash-mounted controller from the base Q5. The controller and its associated buttons may require an uncomfortable reach from the driver seat, whereas navigation-equipped models get an upgraded MMI system with a convenient console-mounted controller knob that's easier to use. The fancier system also includes Bluetooth audio, which remarkably isn't standard on the Premium Plus trim, and the more useful upgraded MMI system with a joystick on the knob for enhanced control. Alas, no SQ5 is equipped with a USB port, so if you want to plug in your phone or music player, you're stuck with Audi's outdated proprietary music interface (or the basic auxiliary audio jack).
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 respectable legroom as well as slide-and-recline functionality. Cargo space suffers, however, topping out at 57.3 cubic feet with the rear seatbacks folded, a low number compared to many other compact crossovers (though the Porsche Macan is even worse off ).
The SQ5's acceleration is currently bested only by the considerably more expensive Porsche Macan Turbo.
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.