Vital Stats

Engine:
SC 3.0L V6
Power:
354 HP / 347 LB-FT
Transmission:
8-Speed Auto
0-60 Time:
5.1 Seconds
Top Speed:
155 MPH
Drivetrain:
All-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
4,409 LBS
Seating:
2+3
Cargo:
29.1 / 57.3 CU-FT
MPG:
16 City / 23 HWY
Base Price:
$51,900
With the exception of a handful of markets (including the US), the Audi SQ5 was a pioneer for the company's S/RS performance line as it was the first model to wear the badge and also get diesel power. Our general "everything is better with a diesel" mentality was put to the test when we first heard we would be getting a non-diesel SQ5 in the US (despite the availability of the diesel-powered Q5 TDI here already), but as usual we can only blame our federal emissions standards. As Audi tells it, the SQ5 TDI engine would require AdBlue to meet US emissions regulations, and the packaging of such a system just wasn't possible, so the global SQ5's diesel engine was replaced by a gasoline-powered V6 borrowed from the Audi S4/S5. To show that little, if anything, was lost in translation from diesel to gas, we headed to southwestern Colorado to spend an afternoon with the all-new 2014 Audi SQ5.

Our drive program had us taking the SQ5 from Durango, CO to the city of Gateway, before heading to Grand Junction the next morning. There's nothing like spending five hours strapped into a seat, traversing hill and mountain, to truly test a vehicle's comfort and driving dynamics. From the first touch of the SQ5's push-button starter, we knew this was no ordinary Q5. As the engine came to life with a deep burble and raspy pops, and we spent the rest of the day trying to come to terms with the fact that not everything needs a diesel. Wait. What?!
2014 Audi SQ52014 Audi SQ52014 Audi SQ5

The first order of business in creating the US-spec SQ5 was to add more power under the hood courtesy of the same supercharged 3.0-liter V6 used in the S4/S5. The SQ5, however, gets an upgraded crankshaft and a stiffened block allowing the engine to produce 354 horsepower and 347 pound-feet of torque. While that's a far cry from the 479 lb-ft of torque available in the SQ5 TDI, this power output represents an increase of 82 hp and 52 lb-ft over the Q5 3.0T model, and even a gain of 21 hp and 22 lb-ft over the S4 and S5.

Audi engineers tweaked the Q5's eight-speed Tiptronic transmission to give it a sportier DCT feel.

Along with the engine mods, the SQ5 also gets an entirely new exhaust system from the manifold to the quad outlets with butterfly valves, all of which helps the engine breathe better and belt out its inspiring exhaust note.

Between the exhaust pops and the quick shifts, more than one person during the day asked if the SQ5 had a dual-clutch transmission. That misdirection was understandable, as Audi engineers tweaked the Q5's eight-speed Tiptronic transmission to give it a sportier DCT feel in this application. In the transmission's normal driving mode, the SQ5 is a docile vehicle without jerky shifts or too much cabin noise, but drop the shifter down into Sport mode (or pull on the shift paddles) and the whole attitude of this crossover changes.

2014 Audi SQ5

Audi says the SQ5 can accelerate from 0-60 in just 5.1 seconds and hit a top speed of 155 mph.

We'd love to complain about missing out on a diesel-powered SQ5 here in the States, but the truth of the matter is that this engine is plenty strong – even while driving at elevations surpassing 12,000 feet. Despite tipping the scales at 4,409 pounds – a curb weight that is around 400 pounds heavier than the base model but lighter than the standard diesel-powered TDI model in the US – Audi says the SQ5 can accelerate from 0-60 in just 5.1 seconds and hit a top speed of 155 miles per hour. Even better for us, this engine had enough midrange power to make an easy task of getting around slower traffic in the surprisingly short passing zones of the winding mountain roads on which we were driving. Even with the added power, the SQ5 doesn't pay too much of a penalty at the pump with fuel economy estimates of 16 miles per gallon in the city and 23 mpg on the highway compared to 18 mpg city and 26 mpg highway for the standard Q5 3.0T.

After massaging the powertrain, Audi also went to work stiffening up the suspension for the SQ5. For the most part our SQ5 uses the same setup as its Euro, diesel-powered counterpart, with stiffer spring rates than the Q5. But while the SQ5 TDI has a 30-millimeter suspension drop, our version has the same ride height as all other Q5 models. This taller ride height was necessary to allow it to keep the "light truck" vehicle classification here in the US, which affects emissions credits, but it also affects handling – it was easy to tell this was no S4, especially entering a turn a little too hot. As a whole package, the stiffened suspension, bigger front brakes, instant throttle response and slightly wider track still made the SQ5 more fun to drive on some of Colorado's best roads than a crossover has a right to be.

2014 Audi SQ52014 Audi SQ52014 Audi SQ52014 Audi SQ5

Those road sections were joined by a handful of impromptu off-roading sections to test the SQ5's Quattro all-wheel-drive system. We encountered some mud/dirt-covered roads that had been washed out by recent rain in the area – albeit to a much less devastating degree as areas further north like Boulder.

The overly light steering lacked the feedback we want from such a sport-oriented model.

Sadly, no changes have been made to the steering, which while not awful, left us a little disappointed. The overly light steering lacked the feedback we want from such a sport-oriented model, but at the end of the day, fuel economy and ease of everyday driving do come with some concessions. In total, we drove close to 250 miles with countless hairpin turns always greeting us with sharp drop-offs where the pavement ends, and, as a whole, the SQ5 handled itself perfectly in all conditions.

Unlike other S-tuned cars in its lineup, Audi played it quite conservative when it came to the styling of the SQ5. Standard S/RS treatments like the silver mirror caps, quad exhaust outlets and horizontal slats in the grille and front air intakes were all present. For a little extra flair, the SQ5 also stands apart from lesser Q5 models with its rear fascia diffuser, Porsche-like split rear spoiler and, of course, the "SQ5" logo written on the front rotors. Finishing off our SQ5 was a stylish set of 21-inch, split-spoke wheels wrapped in summer tires as a $800 option. Surprisingly, not much was done to improve aerodynamics or change the SQ5's appearance from a standard, updated-for-2013 Q5 model. Spending time with the SQ5 also served as a reminder of the good work Audi's design team did to prevent the CUV from looking like a lifted wagon or hatchback.

2014 Audi SQ52014 Audi SQ52014 Audi SQ52014 Audi SQ5

The goal of the SQ5 is to stand as the next rung up the ladder for owners of the S4 and S5 cars.

Inside, changes to the SQ5 are equally minimal but are nonetheless effective at relaying the crossover's sporty intentions. They include a distinctive gauge cluster, a round shift lever knob, carbon-fiber inlays throughout the cabin, a flat-bottomed steering wheel with shift paddles and metal-finished pedals. Leather and Alcantara sport seats are standard, but this tester had dark Nappa leather seats (an $850 option) with contrasting stitching and the SQ5 logo embroidered onto the front seatbacks. The seats proved to be perfectly balanced; delivering the lateral support required for spirited driving with the comfort needed for long drives.

The 12-way adjustable front seats (with extendable thigh supports) made it easy for front occupants to get comfortable, but even with plenty of headroom and a standard panoramic roof, the rear seats felt quite confining. On more than one occasion, though, Audi reps pointed out that the true goal of the SQ5 is to stand as the next rung up the ladder for owners of the S4 and S5 cars – more specifically, men with growing families – so we'd imagine Audi is expecting the rear seat to be filled with child seats rather than adult occupants. The SQ5 is also a good grocery getter with up to 57.3 cubic feet of cargo space in total, including 29.1 cubic feet with the rear seats in place.

2014 Audi SQ5

Targeting an internal customer is one thing, but Audi has a bigger challenge when nailing down what vehicles the SQ5 goes up against. With its focus on performance, $51,900 starting price and almost $61,000 as-tested price (and that's not even fully loaded), the SQ5 will surely be shopped against the Infiniti QX70 (the crossover formerly known as FX), Mercedes GLK350, BMW X3 and likely even the upcoming Porsche Macan, which shares its platform with the Audi Q5.

Audi is looking for the SQ5 to account for around 10 to 15 percent of the Q5's volume.

In terms of projected sales, Audi is looking for the SQ5 to account for around 10 to 15 percent of the Q5's volume. With 28,599 units sold through September, the crossover is the top-selling model in Audi's lineup so far this year. Expanding the model mix will likely help this trend continue; Q5 buyers can opt for a budget-minded 2.0T, a more powerful 3.0T, the fuel-efficient TDI and hybrid models and, now, the sport-tuned SQ5.

At the end of the day, we were a bit conflicted. There's always that nagging voice in the back of our minds shouting "needs more diesel," but the execution of this gas-powered SQ5 was enough to suppress our desire for everything oil-burning. Recalling how well Audi's first-ever S-tuned utility vehicle had just handled itself on some of the most exciting roads in the US, we have no problem trading the diesel pump for premium gas. Even as we dropped off the SQ5 at the Grand Junction airport, though – peering back at its stylish LED running lights just one last time – we get the feeling Audi isn't even close to throwing in the towel on a hotted-up diesel crossover in the US.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 63 Comments
      Neil
      • 1 Year Ago
      whats next... a rsq5 using Porsche's new 3.0 twin turbo v6 with 420-hp and 384-lbft???????
        Hernan
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Neil
        That'll be the Macan: http://www.autoblog.com/2013/09/27/porsche-boxster-cayman-gts-911-targa-macan-report/
        Rob
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Neil
        If there is a RSQ5 the 4.0t 420hp/407lbft would be the likely engine
      ferps
      • 1 Year Ago
      So because of the antiquated way that vehicles are divided into two classes in the US, and because the fuel mileage standards for these classes are very different, we now get the Q5 "light truck" with 5 engine options in the US - 2.0t, 3.0t, diesel, hybrid, SQ5 - the last of which is a sport version that keeps its tall ride height so that it can stay inside this light truck classification. Meanwhile, we no longer get an A4 avant, let alone an S4 avant or A6 avant, but we do get the avant-based allroad "light truck" with one engine option.
      Michael Castelaz
      • 1 Year Ago
      You could make a strong case for or against buying this car, but ultimately, you could do that for anything. I bought one. A brand new, Phantom Black Prestige. I'll tell you the best few things about the car. It's a blast to drive. It flies, and nobody expects an SUV to move like this. It's quiet and comfortable. The interior is stunning. Especially the black wood inlays with aluminum pinstripes. When I park it, I turn around and keep staring at it as I walk away. The LEDs are really striking, front and back. The Bang & Olufsen sound system is incredible. The Panoramic Sunroof is something I never thought I cared about... until I got one. Awesome option. The refinements to the exhaust make it sound super sexy. The 21" wheel package is a STEAL at 800 bucks. I really liked the car, so I bought it, knowing that people would have their fair share of comments... "nice Volkswagen", "Cool car... for a soccer mom."... whatever... The bottom line is that everybody that's seen it, drools over it... and anybody that's driven it is sad when they have to get out. Nitpick the details all you want, but if you need a crossover/SUV, this thing is a dream machine. I love it.
      Joey
      • 1 Year Ago
      I don't get it. If Audi was able to package the AdBlue system for the regular 3.0TDI why weren't they able to for the diesel SQ5 since it's basically the same engine? Does the extra turbo really take up that much space?
        Papi L-Gee
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Joey
        Superchargers are big.
        herb3_16
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Joey
        I Chose the 3.0 TDI over the SQ5. better towing more torque (428) and interior much more luxurious. They have the same starting price. The Q5 is a fun sporty SUV .
        herb3_16
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Joey
        Why the 3.0 TDI does have add blue and is only a second slower and a flat run. It would give the SQ5 a run on a uphill race. The 2014 Q5. TDI puts out 428 lbs torque with the newest generation of the engine. And it is fun to drive.
      Stu
      • 1 Year Ago
      Sorry Jeff
      Terry Actill
      • 1 Year Ago
      These crappy things all look alike.
      Hernan
      • 1 Year Ago
      I have a Q5 3.2. The biggest issue is that if you drive the hell out of it, it's so heavy that it will exact a big toll on tires and brakes. I suspect the same from this. People focus on fuel economy when discussing fast SUVs, but rarely if ever does anyone mention these other 'consumable' parts or how quickly they can wear out when defying physics on a regular basis. Keep in mind that when you get new brakes, you need pads AND rotors (that's how Audi designs them). If you need to go fast, get a fast car. If you need to go fast and haul some stuff, get a fast wagon. If you get one of these and start thrashing it, be prepared for your wife & wallet to dislike you.
        Snark
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Hernan
        What fast wagon am I supposed to buy? None exist for a reasonable price and option set.
          neilyadig
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Snark
          The new V60 is being offered with 3 different powertrain options. The highest of which is the R-Design (325hp/354lbft) I6 aka the most powerful Volvo wagon in history. Looks good too... might be a better option than the woefully overpriced new 3 touring.
          raughle1
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Snark
          Yeah, the 328i wagon is as close as you're going to get. At 6.0 seconds to 60, it's slower than this SQ5 but you have the benefit of it handling better. I feel your pain. Or, Audi could just drop this thing a bit and give us a better compromise. It's not a high volume vehicle so I can't imagine it's going to impact their cafe that much.
        herb3_16
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Hernan
        If you drive the hell out of any sports car they will often times go through both brakes and routers every 12,000-15,000 miles. The sports wagons are no different. Yes the Q5 can go through them but it does average 25,000+ which is better than any sports car I have owned.
        Michael Castelaz
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Hernan
        Good comment. The nice thing about the newer models, though, is that Audi is using lighter metals now. Sometime over the past two years, they've won a Design Excellence award for their doors... they shaved 44 lbs off of each front door on the A6 without compromising crash test ratings. It's actually pretty amazing. But don't take my word for it. It's in the brochure.
      Bernie Kressner
      • 1 Year Ago
      What a gorgeous car, inside and out. Nice design; great esthetics; good ergonomics. Good power, good performance: AWD. Price is maybe a bit steep, but you get what you pay for. Nice work, Audi! (...and I'm not even an Audi fan....(^_^). I dream of BMW's in the middle of the night...) PS - and yes, they can certainly use this platform for incorporating the diesel int he future... ----------------
        Terry Actill
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Bernie Kressner
        Gorgeous? It looks like every other cuv on the road. There again maybe you fancy Oprah?
      knightrider_6
      • 1 Year Ago
      Ugh, what a hideous looking car.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @knightrider_6
        [blocked]
          knightrider_6
          • 1 Year Ago
          Sorry I hurt your feelings. I hope you are not crying. I know life is really hard for you Audi/BMW apologists - you got duped into buying one of these overhyped cars and now you spend half your time in the repair shop. I can't even imagine the pain and agony you people have to live through.
          Joey
          • 1 Year Ago
          I've owned 7 Audis in the past 12 years and never had one in the shop other than scheduled maintenance. Modern Audis are very reliable, just check JD Power - the A6 is the top-rated mid-size premium car for Vehicle Dependability: http://autos.jdpower.com/research/Audi/A6/2010/Sedan/index.htm
        Terry Actill
        • 1 Year Ago
        @knightrider_6
        Aaron N. can't even drive. He's 13.
      Bobby
      • 1 Year Ago
      Love the understated beauty of this car. The quad exhausts give it a mean look!
        ravenosa
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Bobby
        Meanest glorified VW minivan/station wagon I've ever seen...
      action3500
      • 1 Year Ago
      Find it hard to believe that 4400lb SUV will hit 60mph in 5.1s with that engine.
        Bernard
        • 1 Year Ago
        @action3500
        Launch control + advanced AWD. See the rest of the Audi S's for reference, all of them have unusually fast 0-60's for their power/weight but that steam runs out quickly.
        jeffreynross
        • 1 Year Ago
        @action3500
        I didn't have the chance to time it, but 5.1 seconds doesn't seem wrong... even at the high elevation.
        dmorgen518
        • 1 Year Ago
        @action3500
        Also, why does this weigh as much as my dad's Sienna? I get that it's AWD, but the Sienna is nearly two feet longer and has a larger engine.
        Michael Castelaz
        • 1 Year Ago
        @action3500
        Find it however you want. Go drive one. It's a beast. I actually think it's faster.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
        JeepinBen
        • 1 Year Ago
        Yes, Audi's 3.0 Tsupercharged motor. Also, yeah, this sounds like a big-boy GTI/S4 Avant, the Euro-version even more so since it rides lower.
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