Stick Shift: 2014 Audi SQ5

Image via Audi.

 

By: Brandon Randall

Audi’s rendition of the crossover— in their 2014 SQ5— seems to be imprecise in category; scratch crossover for crossfire. The five-person vessel delivers a 0-60 punch in only 5.1 seconds thanks to a 354 horsepower engine— compliments of Audi’s S/RS performance line (much like Mercedes has AMG and Nissan has Nismo). Unless you come up against the SRT8 Jeep Grand Cherokee with its monster V8, or the very expensive Porsche Cayenne turbo….you’re pretty much guaranteed to be the fastest 5 passenger crossover on the road.

The Audi SQ5 is fast and makes plenty of power, but it does so without compromising comfort and refinement. When driven normally, the SQ5 has a remarkably quite cabin and compliant ride. Inside the cabin, you’ll find leather Alcantara sport seats, a beautiful, race inspired flat-bottomed steering wheel, paddle shifters and aluminum insert pedals. My model came with attractive pin striped inlays and metal trim throughout the cabin. With an interior like that, the SQ5 doesn’t let you forget that it is not just work horse, but show-pony too.

The SQ5 has an edge that’s obvious the second you decide to uncork the blown V6 to redline. The exhaust delivers a silky smooth turbine-like crescendo under acceleration. The supercharged V6 is paired to a ZF style 8-speed automatic transmission that delivers gear changes that are so fast and precise you’d swear it was a dual clutch gearbox.

Active chassis settings are available in the SQ5. The best way to experience the SQ5 is in ‘dynamic’ mode. In this setting the intake and exhaust take on a deeper, more menacing tone. The already impressive transmission becomes even more responsive and steering heft is adjusted to provide a heavier feel. This was nice, as the steering in ‘standard’ mode felt too light, not providing enough feedback in my opinion.

Unlike most crossovers, the SQ5 is planted through tight corners. There’s very little body roll thanks to stiffer spring rates and damper settings over the less spirited Q5 models. It even comes with big 4-piston caliper Brembo brakes to ensure fast and consistent braking performance.

The Audi SQ5 may be small and drive more like a Civic SI than a traditional crossover (Editor’s Note: we mean that in the best way possible), but it is a crossover, and as such it’s remarkably useful. It has back seats that can semi-comfortably fit three adults and spacious cargo space. On the outside, beautiful dual spoke wheels, a revised roof spoiler, side sills and an altered front grill make clear that this Q5 is something special.

In my experience, money can’t buy a much more entertaining small crossover. It’s a vehicle for former hot hatch lovers that have grown up and now crave space and luxury, but don’t want to give up the sounds and sensations of a car that is fast and incredibly fun to drive.

Price as tested: $64,195.00

 

(Check-back often for Brandon Randall’s auto column ‘Stick Shift’)

 

 

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