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2018 Audi SQ5

Car and Driver logo Car and Driver 10/2/2017 JARED GALL

2018 Audi SQ5 2018 Audi SQ5 - Instrumented Test Commonality might literally defuse abnormality, but it doesn’t necessarily change our perception of the weird. Take, for instance, the performance crossover. Not only is the size-large segment overflowing with BMW Ms, Mercedes-AMGs, and Porsche Turbos—not to mention the Jeep Trackhawk—but now even the smaller class is getting in on the action. Alfa Romeo’s Stelvio offers up to 505 horsepower, there’s an M Sport version of the new BMW X3, Jaguar stuffs 380 horses into the F-Pace, Mercedes has two AMG versions of the GLC, and buyers can get the Porsche Macan in two different levels of turbocharged overachievement. A class we wouldn’t have imagined existing just 10 years ago is already overflowing.

Audi’s entry into this crowd is the SQ5, now entering its second generation. Sharing its Volkswagen Group MLB Evo bones with the Audi S4 and the S5, the SQ5 already has a fair bit of pedigree. Add to that a 354-horse hot-vee turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 routing power to all four wheels through a ZF eight-speed automatic, and you’ve got an appealing combo wrapped in the latest crisply folded Ingolstadt style. Audi’s trim lineup is as clear as Starbucks sizing, with the baseline being the Premium Plus. For $55,275, the SQ5 is a pretty standard luxury offering with leather seats (heated up front), Bluetooth, proximity entry, and a huge sunroof.

Upgrading to the $4200-dearer Prestige trim as on our test car brings navigation, Audi’s 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster, 360-degree parking cameras, a 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system with 755 watts, and the all-important ambient interior lighting. Additional major add-ons pushing our as-tested price to $65,800 include 21-inch wheels for $1000 and the $3000 S Sport package, which brings a height-adjustable air suspension, a torque-vectoring rear differential, and red brake calipers. It doesn’t seem like that long ago that wheels this big first appeared on humongous SUVs and ridiculous customs; that they now look fairly normal on a vehicle this size speaks to the normalizing power of repeated exposure.

Rocket Man on a Mission

It still doesn’t feel normal to have a 4429-pound crossover stop from 70 mph in just 148 feet, though; nor to have one lap the skidpad at 0.93 g. The SQ5’s 5.1-second zero-to-60-mph sprint and 13.7-second quarter-mile at 102 mph also are impressive but trail its competition in this modern theater of the absurd. We’ve seen similarly priced Macans get into the mid-four-second range and the pricier Macan Turbo break into the threes. ZF’s eight-speed automatic, usually flawless in its other current applications, was slow to swap ratios and sometimes slurred part-throttle shifts in the SQ5, suggesting a few final calibrations ought to be improved.

But if it’s not the fastest, the SQ5 is a comfortable cruiser, with a bit more cushion built into its underpinnings than most of its competitors. And the interior is every bit as handsome as the exterior, with rich materials and an attention to detail that is the hallmark of true luxury. It’s tremendously spacious up front with a range of adjustability that allows for drivers of all sizes to get comfortable, but no matter where you position the front seats, there’s less headroom in the second row than the Audi’s upright profile would have you believe. We found it to be a very unpleasant place for anyone over six feet tall. But if you’re looking for a quick and comfortable way to move a family of normal-size humans, the SQ5 is a charmer. And if your kids are young enough, they might never even realize how weird this very idea is.

Specifications

VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback

PRICE AS TESTED: $65,800 (base price: $55,275)

ENGINE TYPE: turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve Miller-capable V-6, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection

Displacement: 183 cu in, 2995 cc

Power: 354 hp @ 6400 rpm

Torque: 369 lb-ft @ 1370 rpm

TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic with manual shifting mode

DIMENSIONS:

Wheelbase: 111.2 in

Length: 183.9 in

Width: 74.5 in Height: 65.3 in

Passenger volume: 102 cu ft

Cargo volume: 27 cu ft

Curb weight: 4429 lb

C/D TEST RESULTS:

Zero to 60 mph: 5.1 sec

Zero to 100 mph: 13.0 sec

Zero to 120 mph: 20.2 sec

Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 6.1 sec

Top gear, 30–50 mph: 3.4 sec

Top gear, 50–70 mph: 4.0 sec

Standing ¼-mile: 13.7 sec @ 102 mph

Top speed (governor limited): 127 mph

Braking, 70–0 mph: 148 ft

Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.93 g

C/D FUEL ECONOMY:

Observed: 20 mpg

75-mph highway driving: 28 mpg

Highway range: 510 mi

EPA FUEL ECONOMY:

Combined/city/highway: 21/19/24 mpg

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