People flock to SUVs for their higher ride height and family-friendly interiors. But what do you do when your need to cart your kids to and from school and soccer practice opposes your desire for a sports car? Just because you have the means to buy something fast doesn’t mean you’re able to forsake your responsibilities, right?
Fortunately, there’s a happy compromise. Luxury sport SUVs like the Audi SQ5 blend performance with the larger body style of an SUV, making it possible to have the best of both worlds. The SQ5 walks the fine line between the performance SUV spectrum, offering a midsize luxury SUV with all the trimmings, with enough power and agility to put a smile on your face when the moment arises.
The Audi SQ5 is based off the standard Q5 midsized luxury crossover, which is a competent vehicle in its own right. However, instead of the turbocharged four-cylinder that powers the Q5, the SQ5 gets a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 that puts out 354 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, an increase of about 100 horsepower and 100 lb-ft over the base model. Combined with an eight speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, this powertrain will shoot the somewhat heavy SQ5 to 60 mph in just 5.1 seconds.
Audi also gives the SQ5 their quattro all-wheel drive system, and the ability to switch between up to six drive modes to best suit the surface and driving style that your mood calls for, including Offroad, Efficiency, Dynamic, and Comfort. The standard SQ5 gets a lightweight sports suspension that keeps the crossover flat in the corner, as well as an adaptive suspension with various settings for comfort, dynamic driving, and off-road conditions. For even sportier handling, the SQ5 can be equipped with a sport rear differential that will divert power to the outside wheel in a corner, helping the SUV move even quicker through the bend.
The overall effect of these additions to the standard Q5 is a tall crossover that sticks to the road like proverbial glue. In tight corners the SQ5 stays flat and steady, without much drama or suspense regarding the vehicle’s ability to go where you want it to. Traction seems infinite, a result of the all-wheel drive system and rear axle differential. If anything, the SQ5 is too good at this venture, to the point where some of the excitement is left behind.
Audi continues to be a benchmark for many other brands in terms of interior design, and the SQ5 proves it. The cockpit is full of clean lines and high-quality materials, placed with Teutonic purpose and a minimalistic inspiration. The one fault of the design is the infotainment screen looks a bit like a tablet that was glued to the dash as an afterthought, but it still manages to merge with the whole for a good look.
The SQ5 is well equipped for the luxury side of its purpose with standard leather and Alcantara heated seats alongside three-zone automatic climate control. As you open your wallet a bit more and move up the trim levels, the SQ5 can be equipped with diamond-stitched leather or ventilated Milano leather seats, a panoramic sunroof, and a Bang and Olufsen 19-speaker sound system. When combined with the comfort settings of the adaptable suspension, the SQ5 can offer a pothole-smoothing ride that rivals often struggle to match.
Audi has also made a name for itself with the amount of technology it has crammed into its cars, and the SQ5 is no exception. The Premium Plus and Prestige trims come standard with Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, a configurable digital gauge cluster that can show a large variety of information from satellite map views to performance data that’s one of the best in the business. Additionally, as you climb the trim ladder the SQ5 offers desirable driver assistance technologies like adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist.
The largest handicap of the Q5 though is interior volume. Audi places a large emphasis on driver and front passenger comfort, but the rear can feel cramped and neglected for adults, especially if you try to cram three across the back seat. If you only ever plan to put children back there, it’s less of an issue, but the interior is still smaller than you’d expect.
Overall, the SQ5 is a fantastic choice for those stuck between responsibility and excitement. While other performance SUVs may be more fun to drive, or more opulently styled, the SQ5 is a good compromise while offering an entry point of $53,395. With all options included, the SQ5 will top out just north of $70,000, a territory that many competitors will bounce into with ease when reviewing the option sheet. The SQ5 may not be the fastest or the most luxurious, but it’s highly competent and deserves a look for anyone in the market for a performance SUV.
Images courtesy of Audi