Generally speaking, people like to go fast. In fact, according to J.D. Power studies, no matter the type of vehicle under discussion most people will agree that they prefer a car, truck, SUV or minivan with responsive handling and powerful acceleration.
If you’re shopping for a midsized luxury SUV, then, it stands to reason that you will be particularly interested in the new 2018 Audi SQ5, which the automaker introduced at the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
A faster and better handling version of the completely redesigned 2018 Audi Q5, the new SQ5 will “set a new standard in the luxury performance crossover segment,” according to the automaker.
You’ll be able to tell the difference between the standard Q5 and the racy SQ5 by its aluminum optic (fake aluminum) exterior trim. It coats the horizontal blade bars of the unique platinum gray grille, as well as the side mirror housings and the rear roof spoiler.
Additionally, the new 2018 Audi SQ5 includes 3D LED headlights, which complement the LED taillights with dynamic turn signals. Bigger aluminum wheels are also a visual giveaway that this is, indeed, the sporty version of the new Q5.
Inside, the SQ5 is fitted with a standard 3-spoke, flat-bottom steering wheel, matte brushed aluminum dashboard trim, and stainless steel doorsill trim. The performance-bolstered front sport seats are standard for the SQ5, and can be wrapped in optional diamond-stitched leather. Carbon Atlas interior trim is also available.
Under the Hood
Every Audi SQ5 receives a standard 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 engine. It makes 354 horsepower and 369 lb.-ft. of torque, the latter available from 1,370 rpm all the way to 4,500 rpm.
An 8-speed automatic transmission is standard, feeding the power to the rear-biased, active torque distribution Quattro all-wheel-drive system. Audi claims the SQ5 will accelerate to 60 mph in as few as 5.1 seconds.
Audi’s Drive Select technology is standard, giving the driver a choice between Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, and Individual modes. With Individual, the driver can tailor specific components to his or her preferences.
The standard suspension setup aims to provide a balance between a comfortable ride and outright handling capability. Lightweight aluminum components help to reduce unsprung weight while a 5-link front suspension design improves steering precision. A new adaptive air suspension is optional, and adjusts depending on the Drive Select setting.
As an option, Dynamic Steering equips the SQ5 with a variable steering ratio that changes based on vehicle speed and the Drive Select setting. The goal is improved stability at higher speeds, and quicker response combined with enhanced maneuverability at lower speeds.
An optional S Sport Package takes the SQ5’s performance to the next level. It includes a sport rear differential that variably splits torque between the rear wheels, and can direct nearly all of the engine torque to a single rear wheel to maximize driving dynamics. A sport-tuned version of the optional adaptive air suspension is also included in this package, adding ride height adjustment to drop the vehicle 1.2 inches in Auto mode and raises it for extra clearance in Allroad and Lift/Offroad modes.
Standard equipment for the Audi SQ5 includes forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, and an automatic emergency braking system that is operational at speeds of 52 mph or less. The SUV also includes a standard blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert, and Pre-Sense rear technology that can detect an impending rear collision and prepare the cabin and occupants for impact.
Audi’s Multi-Media Interface (MMI) infotainment system with navigation and handwriting recognition keeps the SQ5’s occupants entertained in a different fashion, and equips the SUV with Audi’s smartphone interface technology including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A Bang & Olufsen premium audio system delivers crisp, robust, thundering music to the cabin.
Options include Audi Virtual Cockpit digital instrumentation with an exclusive “Sport” display mode that is not offered on the regular-strength Q5. This mode adds a boost gauge and a lap timer while putting the tachometer and speedometer front and center on the display.
Audi also offers a full-color heads-up display for the SQ5, as well as adaptive cruise control with stop and go capability, and a traffic jam assist system that automatically stops, goes, and flows with congested traffic.