Audi’s SQ5, based on the Q5 crossover, was introduced for the 2014 model year and has been completely redesigned for 2018 with increased power, a new turbocharged V-6 engine, a full suite of available driver-assistance systems, and advanced infotainment features.
The new SQ5, a faster, better-handling version of the 2018 Audi Q5, sets “a new standard in the luxury performance crossover segment,” according to the manufacturer.
While echoing Q5’s distinctive Audi “Q” SUV design language, the spirited SQ5 stands out with exterior styling cues such as aluminum optic (fake aluminum) trim on the horizontal blades of the unique platinum gray grille, side mirror housings, lower front bumper and faux air vent blades, lower rear bumper and integrated twin exhaust tips, and S model rear roof spoiler.
Its sporty exterior styling also includes standard 20-inch alloy wheels and lowered suspension. Sculpted 3-D LED headlights with LED daytime running lights flow with the clamshell hood to the wide horizontal rear and complement the LED taillights with dynamic turn signals.
Audi “Q” SUV design language includes a flat, coupe-like roof line, strong, wave-design shoulder line, and pronounced wheel arches that emphasize the standard Quattro all-wheel drive.
Inside, the SQ5 features Alcantara leather, brushed aluminum dash trim, a flat-bottom sport steering wheel, and stainless-steel doorsill trim with S badging, presenting a luxury car attitude along with sporty performance.
Sport front seats are performance-bolstered, with diamond-stitched leather available. Carbon Atlas interior trim is available to replace the brushed aluminum.
The 2018 SQ5 has more interior space, especially rear legroom and cargo space with the second row folded down.
SQ5 is available in two trims: Base/Premium Plus, $54,300, and Prestige, $58,500. Premium Plus has Audi side assist and Audi pre-sense rear with rear cross-traffic assist and vehicle-exit assist, and leather seating surfaces with S embossing.
For $4,200 more, the Prestige – my tester – added dual-pane acoustic glass for the front side windows, interior lighting-plus package, Audi virtual cockpit, full-color head-up display, Bang and Olufsen audio system with 3-D sound, Audi connect PRIME & PLUS (six-month trial), Audi MMI navigation plus with MMI touch, and a top-view camera system with parking system plus.
Both trims have an all-new 354-horsepower 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 engine, paired with an eight-speed Tiptronic transmission and standard Quattro all-wheel drive.
Quattro features active torque distribution to both axles. When equipped with an S sport package with sport rear differential ($3,000, mine), SQ5 actively splits torque between the rear wheels, with the ability to direct nearly all torque to one wheel, as needed to maximize traction.
EPA rated for 19 mpg city/24 highway/21 combined, we managed 23.5 mpg on mostly highway driving.
My SQ5 was Ibis White, one of two standard exterior colors, along with Brilliant Black. Eight more available colors, such as Azores Gray Metallic, Matador Red Metallic, Moonlight Blue Metallic, and Mythos Black add $575.
The interior was Magma Red diamond-stitched Nappa leather with Granite Gray stitching ($1,250); black leatherette dash, center console and door armrests; black Alcantara on the door panels, and black carpet and headliner.
My sport steering wheel had red stitching, as did the door armrests and the console. Both front seats had a manual thigh cushion extension.
The standard aluminum interior trim was replaced with Carbon Atlas inlays ($500) on the upper door panels, across the mid-dash, and along the passenger side of the center console. Carbon Atlas presents a very sporty appearance.
The S sport package also included red brake calipers and, for the first time on the SQ5, sport adaptive air suspension, which lowers the vehicle by 1.2 inches in auto mode compared with the standard adaptive suspension. It allows for adjustment of ride height and firmness, depending on the Drive Select setting, raising it for extra clearance in allroad and lift/offroad modes.
Drive Select has four standard modes: comfort, auto, dynamic, and individual, adding allroad and lift/off-road modes with the sport adaptive air suspension. Individual mode allows the driver to tailor components to his or her preferences.
A Dynamic Steering option ($1,150) changed the steering ratio based on vehicle speed and Drive Select setting to improve stability at higher speeds and increase steering response at lower speeds for easy maneuvering.
Standard 20-inch wheels were replaced with striking 21-inch Audi Sport machine- finished, five-double-spoke-V design wheels with low-profile summer tires ($1,000).
Driver Assistance ($1,800) brought adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, active lane assist, high beam assist, and traffic sign recognition. Traffic jam assist operates below 40 mph, using sensors to assist the driver to stop, go, and flow with congested traffic.
White LED accents are standard, integrated throughout the interior, emphasizing contours and identifying areas of depth as background lighting. My SQ5 Prestige had a Lighting Plus package with 32 additional colors, including Maritime Blue and Impulse Red, to allow the driver to set the mood.
My SQ5’s Virtual Cockpit digital instrumentation had an exclusive “Sport” display mode not offered on the Q5. Sport mode adds a boost gauge and a lap timer, with the tachometer and speedometer front and center.
A full-color head-up display projected navigation and driver-assistance information onto the windshield in the driver's line of sight.
The Bang and Olufsen sound system had 19 speakers and 755 watts of power for crisp, amazing sound throughout the cabin. The front door speakers had a strip of ambient light, a nice touch.
Audi Connect Prime and Plus was included for a six-month trial. Prime brought Google Earth (my favorite way to view a map), Google voice search, myAudi destinations, traffic information with route guidance; fuel prices, travel info, parking information, Audi music stream, internet radio, Twitter; geofencing, speed alert, valet alert, curfew alert, car finder, remote lock/unlock, vehicle status reports; predictive route guidance, myAudi navigation, natural voice recognition, connected POIs, and advanced 3-D city view.
Connect Plus added AT&T Unlimited Connected Car Plan, turning the SQ5 into a powerful Wi-Fi hotspot, with the ability to connect to 10 devices at once, and with a 50-foot range.
Standard Audi connect care, a suite of assistance and security services, included SOS calls, online roadside assistance, stolen-vehicle locater, and Audi service request.
MMI Navigation Plus with MMI Touch included handwriting-recognition technology, with a writing pad in front of the controller knob on the center console.
The top view (bird’s-eye) camera along with the Parking System Plus with front and rear acoustic sensors, and the rearview camera with selectable guidelines made parallel or perpendicular parking a breeze.
Standard safety equipment and technology included forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking – operational below 52 mph – and pre-sense rear that can detect an impending collision and begin closing the side windows and panoramic sunroof, tightening the front seatbelts, and preparing the brakes for a quick response.
Pre-sense city also helps detect stationary vehicles and pedestrians, and initiates full braking, if necessary, below 52 mph. Exit assist monitors traffic behind and alerts the driver and front passenger if the doors are opening while vehicles or cyclists are approaching from behind.
My SQ5 had SiriusXM (three-month trial), Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, three-zone climate control with digital rear display, Audi advanced key (touch the door handle with the fob in a pocket or purse to lock/unlock the doors), auto-dimming mirrors with heated outside mirrors, roof rails, and rear child-safe door locks.
A phone-size cubby under the dash and a phone-size slot on the console and a sliding tray under the center armrest were handy.
The SQ5 is a sporty driving experience, with smooth, quick shifts through eight gears, yet comfortable for a long day trip. Acceleration was also quick and smooth – zero to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds, according to manufacturer’s testing.
With $8,700 total options and $975 destination charges, my SQ5 delivered for $68,175.
The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at email@example.com.