Monday, 21 April, 2014

 
Published February 08, 2014
Great way to fly
The SQ5 is the fastest version of Audi's popular compact SUV. By Samuel Ee
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- PHOTO: AUDI

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It is the responsiveness of the SQ5 combined with a beautifully appointed yet functional cabin that is this muscular Audi's most attractive attribute.

IT is unlikely that anyone will confuse the SQ5 with an SIA flight even though both offer the possibility of high-speed travel.

The Audi SQ5 3.0 TFSI is the "S" version of the popular Q5 luxury crossover. It is the flagship of the Q5 range, with its supercharged V6 primed for 354 hp and 470 Nm compared with the regular Q5 3.0 TFSI's 272 hp and 400 Nm.

The beauty of a supercharged engine is that the power delivery is brutally linear. There is no lag and it allows the SQ5 to accelerate from zero to 100 kmh in 5.4 seconds, with a snarling exhaust for aural accompaniment.

The latter effect is heightened with more exhaust noise "piped" into the cabin when the gear lever is left in Sport or if the Audi Drive Select feature is set to Dynamic.

The SQ5 has multi-link suspension in front and behind. The fixed rate dampers provide a firm ride while doing a good job of maintaining some comfort. It is an excellent compromise but unfortunately, it does not produce the kind of scintillating handling to go with all that oomph.

This is partly because the SQ5 is a relatively tall car. Even with the suspension lowered by 30mm over the regular Q5, it still stands at 1.62 metres. So in fast corners, this height is apparent.

But it is the responsiveness of the SQ5 combined with a beautifully appointed yet functional cabin that is this muscular Audi's most attractive attribute. Floor the accelerator at any speed, especially in Sport mode, and the SQ5 responds enthusiastically. And with quattro all-wheel-drive as standard, there is always the necessary grip to make the most of its fat torque.

An eight-speed automatic has been the standard transmission for the Q5 since last year (from the seven-speed S Tronic dual-clutch gearbox previously) and on the SQ5, this further smoothens out gear changes.

At 1,910 kg, it is not a lightweight however and only the supercharged engine's oomph prevents this from being too much of a disadvantage.

Inside the SQ5, the high-grade materials, solidly built dashboard and stylish two-tone leather sports seats make it a very nice place to be doing all this fast driving. As part of the S treatment, the instruments feature grey dials and white numerals, while the steering wheel-mounted shift paddles get a shiny aluminium-look finish.

The SQ5 is supposed to be a compact crossover but it doesn't look or feel small. At 4,644 mm long with a 2,813 mm wheelbase and wearing standard 20-inch wheels, it can actually appear hulking from certain angles. More importantly, the rear bench with its good head and legroom make it a comfortable place for ferrying three passengers.

As the first SUV in the German carmaker's "S" line-up, the SQ5 is an upscale performance model that is also practical. It is anything but economy class on board this Audi.

samuelee@sph.com.sg

SPECS

Audi SQ5

Engine 2,995cc V6 supercharged

Transmission 8-speed tiptronic auto

Max power 354 hp @ 6,000-6,500 rpm

Max torque 470 Nm @ 4,000-4,500 rpm

0-100 kmh 5.4 secs

Top speed 250 kmh

CO2 emissions 202 g/km

Average OMV $57,700

Price $335,050 (with COE)

Distributor Premium Automobiles

Tel: 6566-1111