Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins
I must say, this past week was one of Automotive Rhythms’ more thrilling automotive test drive experiences since we were piloting the 2018 Audi SQ5 3.0T quattro tiptronic compact-luxury SUV. Sporty, dynamic, and laden with advanced technology, the SQ5 is suitably fit for small families, adventurous singles, or young couples looking for enticement during each and every ride. Although, it felt more like a taller wagon in comparison to its bigger Q7 cousin, which means parking was never a qualm in crowded lots or on busy city streets.
Behind the wheel the SQ5’s performance is authentic and mesmerizing. The cockpit is dominated by a race-inspired, flat-bottom, multifunction steering wheel with paddle shifters to manipulate the 3-liter TFSI V6’s 354-horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque by way of the 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission. For me, the performance variant of a preferred vehicle model needs to make the driver feel one with the machine and Audi honors that code admirably. It cuts corners at high speeds like sport sedans, has no problem utilizing quattro all-wheel drive to get around rough terrain like the area surrounding my mountain bike trails, and stops on a dime thanks to the 21” Pirelli P Zero summer rubber and sporty red calipers. Of course you would need to add the $3,000 S sport package for those brakes, but you also receive a Sport adaptive suspension and Sport rear differential. The tires wrap around the optional and gorgeous 21” Audi Sport 5-double spoke V design rims ($1,000).
During my stead with the Daytona Gray Pearl Effect (exterior hue) SQ5 I mostly shuttled the girls to school, practices, and a few special requests such as the Nike Factory Store for new cleats and equipment. Sitting in the second row my teen never complained about legroom and ascertained that her soccer team knew which vehicle belonged to the Rawlins family. Inadvertently I was volunteered to pick up and drop off teammates as well. Yet, I don’t blame her. The bold grille is matched with the mirrors, roof rails, chin spoiler, badging and the aforementioned wheels. And trust me, the SQ5 is most definitely one of a few crossover, luxury SUVs you want at your disposal when running late to a game. You will be there in no time like Justin Gatlin. Acceleration is instant, especially when selecting Dynamic mode from the six featured “Audi drive select” modes. My only gripe is that I spent too much time at the gas station in just seven days. Fuel economy is 24 highway MPG but it felt like far less than that.
The interior was fresh and invigorating. In comparison to the standard Q5 the layout and amenities of the SQ5 makes this a much wiser choice unless pricing is a concern. Keep in mind the MSRP of a 2018 Q5 is $42,475, the larger Q7 begins at $50,875, and my SQ5 initiated at $54,300 but jumped to $65,800 after the upgrades, which all seemed necessary. Especially the $4,200 Prestige package since it advances your ride with dual pane acoustic front windows, the premium 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system with 3D sound, Head-up display, Audi connect PRIME & PLUS (WiFi), Audi MMI Navigation plus with MMI touch, and Audi virtual cockpit.
We were also blessed with the diamond stitched Fine Nappa leather ($1,250), large, metal pedals, and carbon inlays. The standard Audi smartphone interface with Apple CarPlay replicated my iPhone’s features so I could play tunes from Spotify or listen to the vehicle read my text messages. The interface functions using either MMI, voice commands, or steering wheel controls. However, there was no need for the touchpad’s usage as I found it more of a hassle and distraction than a convenience. My favorite feature was the tech savvy Audi virtual cockpit that replaces the analog instrument cluster with a high-resolution digital display. Depending on the view you select the screen will emphasize that particular mode. For example, Google Earth can extend across the entire 12.3 inches. Or the speedometer or rev counter can be your central focus and highlighted in full size.
Overall the 2018 Audi SQ5 impressed when it was time to perform and the kids were satisfied which is essential for me. Audi seems more akin to a technology company than an automotive brand which shows their level of consumer interest and focus. The second generation SQ5 should definitely top your list of luxury, performance crossovers alongside the 2018 Mercedes-AMG GLA, 2018 Jaguar F-PACE, or 2018 BMW X4 M.