Automotive

2014 Audi SQ5

Updated: 2013-12-31T17:37:34Z

By TOM STRONGMAN

Audi’s SQ5 is a midsize utility vehicle that has the performance and handling of a sport sedan. The idea that driving fun and practicality aren’t mutually exclusive is appealing to many, and it is spawning several new models from other manufacturers. Next year will see the introduction of the Porsche Macan, BMW X4 and the Mercedes-Benz GLA. There are bound to be more.

Audi says the SQ5 is the first of its utility vehicles to be available in a sport version. The base price is $51,900.

The supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 cranks out 354 horsepower. It scoots to 60 miles an hour in 5.1 seconds and has a top track speed of 155 mph.

The SQ5 is not quite as responsive as the smaller and lighter S5 coupe, but it still pins you back in the seat with acceleration. The engine delivers 347 pound-feet of torque.

The eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission can be shifted manually by tapping the paddles on the steering wheel. That’s handy for a quick burst of power such as passing on a two-lane highway. After a few seconds, the transmission reverts to automatic mode. Nice touch.

Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system divides power from side to side and front to back as conditions require. That means the wheels with the most grip get the most power. That’s handy on slippery surfaces, of course, but also on dry pavement when driving briskly. The test car’s 21-inch wheels and low-profile tires are not ideal for snow and ice, so winter tires are probably in order.

The suspension was firm without feeling harsh even with the low-profile tires. The brakes are strong and powerful. The SQ5 sits taller than a sedan, and that means it is not quite as agile as a sports sedan, but it is close. The taller height makes it easier to enter and exit.

The SQ5’s interior is well designed and executed. The combination of brushed aluminum, wood trim and soft surfaces is inviting. The gauges and switches are understated and easy to read.

The sculpted front bucket seats were supportive and comfortable. Wind and road noise was not at all intrusive at highway speeds, and the optional Bang & Olufsen audio system, with 14 speakers, had excellent sound.

As much as I liked the SQ5, I would love to try the Q5 TDI turbodiesel. That engine delivers a whopping 428 pound-feet of torque so it should have great acceleration yet its fuel economy is rated at 24 mpg in the city and 31 on the highway. Prices start at $46,500 for the Premium Plus model and $54,000 for the Prestige.

Price

The base price of the test car was $51,900. Options included metallic paint, leather seats, Bang & Olufsen sound system, 21-inch wheels, blind spot monitor, navigation, parking system with rearview camera and six months of Audi Connect. The sticker price was $61,420

Warranty

Four years or 50,000 miles. The first scheduled maintenance, at 5,000 miles or 12 months, is free.

Tom Strongman’s e-mail is tom@tomstrongman.com

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