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Audi SQ5 TFSI: Discrete yet discernibly athletic
By Ghaith Madadha - Mar 06,2017 - Last updated at Mar 06,2017
Photo courtesy of Audi
Launched regionally at last year’s Qatar motor show and nominated for this year’s upcoming Middle East Car of the Year awards’ Compact Premium Performance SUV category, the Audi SQ5 TFSI is sporty but subtle and fast yet comfortable mid-size offering. Part of the German brand’s more discreet “S” performance line, rather than full-bore “RS” high performance vehicles, the SQ5 is a spacious and smooth riding sports SUV and consistently quick and capable performer powered by a supercharged 3-litre V6 engine, like its Jaguar F-Pace rival.
A relative latecomer to the region, with a new second generation standard Q5 model soon due and even a similarly powered model line topping successor SQ5 previewed at the recent Detroit motor show, the current SQ5, nevertheless, holds its own in terms of performance, technology, dynamics and design. Taut and elegant in design with slim headlights flanking a snouty and dominantly large grille, subtly muscular surfacing and gently sloping roofline, the SQ5 has a defined if discreet presence and discernible aesthetic sense of cohesive solidity.
With its long bonnet, short rear overhand complemented by quad rear tailpipes and upturned lower bumper air splitter style section and tailgate spoiler, the SQ5 sits on the road with and an alert and urgent demeanour. Meanwhile, its more prominent side sills and larger 21-inch alloy wheels lend it a more planted and road-hugging stance than garden variety Q5 versions. Riding on 255/40R21 tyres, the SQ5 grips well and steers precisely through corners, while low CD0.36 aerodynamic drag benefits cabin refinement and fuel efficiency.
Consistent and progressive yet confident and generous throughout its rev range owing to its mechanically linked supercharger’s ability to boost more responsively than an exhaust gas driven turbocharger, the SQ5 pounces off the line with a sense of immediacy. Producing a maximum 349BHP at a peaky 6000-6500rpm plateau, and 347lb/ft at a rich 4000-4500rpm mid-range, the 2005kg SQ5 races through the 0-100km/h benchmark in 5.3-seconds and can attain 250km/h. Driven through a smooth and slick 8-speed automatic gearbox, the SQ5 also returns modest-for-its-class 12.3l/100km combined cycle fuel efficiency.
Responsive at low-end, flexible in mid-range and urgently howling as it reaches for its top-end, the SQ5’s supercharged 3-litre V6 engine demonstrates all-round ability and benefits from good throttle response.
Brisk and willing, the SQ5 also benefits from a broad range of gear ratios to get the most of its engine’s abilities in terms of outright performance, on-the-move versatility and refinement and efficiency. Smooth in operation and delivery, the SQ5’s engine is complemented by concise gear shifts and large, capable and effective ventilated disc brakes.
Settled and committed
With its V6 engine slung close to but just forward of and pushing down on its front axle and driving all four wheels through Audi’s trademark Quattro system, the SQ5 generates huge levels of traction for launching confidently off the line and for driving over loose surfaces. Distributing its power between front and rear wheels as and when necessary, the SQ5’s road-holding is sure-footed through corners, while a relatively low centre of gravity for an SUV, in addition to taut dampers, ensure body roll is kept well in check for its class.
Tidy into corners with little hint of its slightly nose heavy configuration, the SQ5’s suspension settings and quick, precise and meaty steering lend it an unexpected agility. Pushed hard through tight corners, the SQ5’s grip is resolute, but with a slight instinct towards under-steer were it to be pushed to its high grip threshold. At speed the SQ5 is reassuringly stable and planted, with a settled ride and buttoned down vertical reflexes on rebound. Ride quality is smooth and forgiving, if slightly on the firmer side compared to non-performance oriented SUVs of similar size.
Refined and spacious
A smooth and refined ride with terrific noise, vibration and harshness isolation, the SQ5’s cabin is a luxurious and well-appointed environment with quality textures and materials aplenty. Well-assembled with sturdy feeling build quality and rich with leather upholstery and metal accents, the SQ5’s business-like yet sporty cabin features logical layouts and user-friendly interfaces, including an intuitive infotainment system and big chunky sports steering wheel. With level waistline and reversing camera visibility and manoeuvrability are good, while a panoramic roof adds an airy ambiance.
Comfortable and supportively well-bolstered and adjustable front seats provide an upright and alert driving position. Meanwhile, rear seating is spacious with generous legroom and headroom even for tall and large occupants. Rear door access is also good and cargo capacity accommodatingly spacious, and includes electric tailgate.
Well-equipped, the SQ5 features tri-zone climate control, Bluetooth connectivity and LED and xenon lights, while the driven car featured a high quality Bang and Olufsen sound system, adaptive cruise control, adaptive lights and front sports seats.
Engine: 3-litre, supercharged, in-line V6-cylinders
Bore x stroke: 84.5 x 89mm
Valve-train: 24-valve, DOHC, direct injection
Gearbox: 8-speed automatic, four-wheel-drive
Ratios: 1st 4.714; 2nd 3.143; 3rd 2.106; 4th 1.667; 5th 1285; 6th 1; 7th 0.839; 8th 0.667
Reverse/final drive: 3.317 / 3.076
Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 349 (354)  @6000-6500rpm
Specific power: 116.5BHP/litre
Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 347 (470) @4000-4500rpm
Specific torque: 156.9Nm/litre
Top speed: 250km/h
Fuel consumption, combined: 12.3-litres/100km
CO2 emissions, combined: 284g/km
Fuel capacity: 75-litres
Track, F/R: 1638 / 1632mm
Overhangs, F/R: 896 / 935mm
Headroom, F/R: 1043 / 990mm
Shoulder room, F/R: 1465 / 1432mm
Unladen weight: 2005kg
Aerodynamic drag co-efficient: 0.36
Steering: Electric-assisted rack & pinion
Turning Circle: 11.6-metres
Brakes: Ventilated discs, 381mm / 330mm
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