Audi recently introduced the second generation of its compact SUV, the 2018 Q5, a vehicle that quickly rose to the top of the brand's sales charts in Canada. This success came in spite of the fact that there was just one version available. Buyers will have a wider selection this year with the addition of the more intense 2018 SQ5, which aims to breathe fresh energy into the whole lineup.
The 2018 SQ5 boasts a new 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine. Unlike the old supercharged V6, this mill has a twin-scroll turbocharger, and it’s the same engine currently found in the new S4 and S5. Surprisingly, it gives you the same 354 horsepower as in the past, but with 23 more lb.-ft. of torque for a total of 369 lb.-ft.—all of which is ready, willing and able at 1370 rpm.
This engine sends power to all four wheels by way of an excellent ZF eight-speed automatic transmission. The SQ5 will feature the classic quattro full-time, all-wheel drive system, unlike the Q5 which gets the new quattra ultra system. Sure, it comes at the expense of a little engine power, but it does so in the name of improved fuel efficiency. In normal driving conditions, it favours the rear wheels (60/40 ratio) and comes standard with a rear torque vectoring differential.
Style-wise, this SQ5 sets itself apart with a more aggressive grille, a rear spoiler and satin-finish side mirrors. Nonetheless, its 20-inch and optional 21-inch wheels will draw the most attention. A few strategically placed “S” logos highlight the vehicle’s intentions. It has the same dashboard, but the Audi virtual cockpit has found its way on board. The seats are extremely comfortable, although with a bit less room for the rear passengers.
It goes from 0-100 km/h in about 5.4 seconds and its average fuel consumption is 8.3 L/100 km, which is pretty good for an SUV with such good capabilities. This is where its more moderate temperament pays dividends and the new engine proves its worth compared to the old one. Nothing bad can be said about the eight-speed transmission. It’s fast and very efficient, allowing you to shift manually using paddles located behind the steering wheel.
The optional air suspension tempers the road’s imperfections reasonably well and makes for a higher level of customization when driving. When paired with the drive mode system, which helps you select various driving programs that modify the accelerator’s reactions, the steering’s firmness and the way the engine and transmission respond, you get a vehicle that reflects your personality on the road.
In a nutshell, the 2018 Audi SQ5 adds a degree of sportiness without morphing into a real beast like some Mercedes-Benz AMG or BMW M SUVs. Its starting price is $66,790 compared to $54,200 for the regular Q5.