2014 Audi SQ5
One smooth criminal.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: January 16th, 2014
More often than not, test cars will be driven in boring weather. The sun might be shining, or it might be cloudy and wintry, but conditions won't be so crazy that you wonder whether or not you should actually take the car out and drive it. This past week, though, we got lucky. And by lucky, we mean smashed by a blizzard and a polar vortex.
Thankfully, the 2014 Audi SQ5 is no slouch in the winter's extremes. Sporting a set of Continental snow tires, this 5-passenger crossover seemed to welcome the foot-and-a-half of snow with an attitude that can only be described as creepy sadism. No matter how much snow fell, or how plowed into a space the Audi became, it dashed around the Chicagoland area with nary a concern, save for the occasional interjection of the stability control.
Turning that stability control off (or, rather, into the "Offroad" setting, as it won't turn all the way off) gives you plenty of leeway when it comes to tossing the SQ5 around in the snow. It's not a perfect snow bunny, because what remains of the ESC will still cut power if you're having too much fun, but with the shifter in manual mode, locked in first gear, the car will rotate on its axis like it was constructed at the Bolshoi.
Even when the temperatures dropped to -15 degrees Fahrenheit (before the wind chill), the Audi fired up immediately. It's like a dog that's always ready to jump up and engage in some play time, yet its grace and overall refinement give it an almost feline quality. No matter what your spirit animal is, though, plant your right foot to the floor, and you'll find that the SQ5 is far from a sedate, domesticated house pet.
It's undeniably Audi. Much like the S6 (the go-fast version of the standard A6), the SQ5 has a strip of shiny carbon fiber trim that wraps around the passenger compartment. The panoramic sliding moonroof brings in plenty of light, and the seats (with optional Nappa leather) are comfortable and very nicely heated in the front; that said, it's a little surprising that 60 grand won't get you heated seats in the rear. The flat-bottomed wheel is a nice, sporty touch, and all the switchgear is clearly labeled - no touchscreens replacing buttons here, thank goodness.
Our tester came with the optional Multi Media Interface (MMI) that continues to be one of the best infotainment offerings on the market. Everything makes sense with a modicum of practice, even the dial's counterintuitive spin direction.
If you're looking for flash, this isn't the place. The SQ5 trim doesn't change a whole lot on the car's exterior, save for badging (SQ5 in the front and rear, and V6T badges on both front quarter panels), the quad-tipped exhaust, and not much else. You can move up to larger, optional wheels, but our tester came with 19-inchers wrapped in the aforementioned snow tires. We don't even want to know how expensive 21-inch snow tires would be. It's far subtler than its crazy-crossover brother, the X6M, and it's less expensive, to boot. It's definitely the sleeper of its segment.
On the Road
The ride is still, well, crossover-ish. The SQ5 will still rock and sway over some highway transitions and undulations, but it feels more planted than the standard Q5. Changing the car's mode to Comfort doesn't help much, as the suspension isn't adjustable - instead, changing modes will alter the exhaust note, steering feel, throttle sensitivity, and transmission shift points. The exhaust note is positively erotic in Dynamic mode, and it provides for a better road feel, so that's what we stuck with through most of the obscene weather.
As we said earlier, hammering the gas will present you with the true purpose of this car - heaping spoonfuls of power and torque. The supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 (same motor that's in the S4, albeit with more power in this instance) pushes you into your seat as the car flies through the revs. The ZF eight-speed transmission is positively great, as it is in nearly every application, save for some awkward downshifts when the trans is in Sport mode. And since you're high(er) off the ground and surrounded by plenty of metal, you won't realize how fast you're actually going before it's way too late.
While all that power is great, it encourages you to do bad things - and often - but thankfully, if you can afford the price of entry, you can afford all the gas you'll be guzzling along the way. So just try to put that out of your mind as you're blasting through the mountains, or down the highway, or really anywhere - because with the proper tires, this car is more capable than you might think. It's not your average, oh-god-why-am-I-not-on-asphalt experience that you get with most crossovers. It will take whatever you throw at it - and trust us, Mother Nature was trying her best.
Specs & Price
Engine: 3.0-liter supercharged direct-injection V-6
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Power Output: 354 hp / 346 lb-ft
Fuel Economy: 16 city / 23 highway
Base Price: $51,900
As Tested: $61,420
Optional Features: Navigation with MMI infotainment system, Nappa leather seats, Bang & Olufsen sound system, rear-seat entertainment system, blind-spot monitor, rear-passenger side airbags, adaptive cruise control with dynamic steering, panoramic-sunroof delete
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2014 Audi SQ5, click here: 2014 Audi SQ5.