The SQ5 is the top of the line Q5; it comes with just a few options and makes an already excellent product oh so much fun…

Audi is the fastest growing luxury brand in Canada likely due to excellent styling, impressive interior design and advanced engineering.

Audi seems to be hitting the sweet spot in terms of appeal and design that is the envy of many other luxury brands. The Q5 has been a cornerstone of the Audi brand helping couples and families get into an Audi product but retain the functionality that is needed to move people and cargo around in style.

Compact SUVs are growing so quickly in popularity that they might overtake compact cars in sales. The Q5 is sold with a turbocharged 4-cylinder, a turbocharged V6 diesel or two supercharged V6 gasoline models that will rip the tarmac off the road. The SQ5 is the top of the line Q5; it comes with just a few options and makes an already excellent product oh so much fun.

Looks

When I picked up my test SQ5, something looked different. I quickly realized that the 20-inch wheels had been replaced by 19-inch wheels, fitted with winter tires. The stance of the SQ5 looks so much better with 20-inch wheels or the optional 21-inch wheels for just $1,000 more. The SQ5 has a slightly lower ride than the other Q5 models and comes with splash of grey trim inside the front air intakes, side mirrors, rear air diffuser, plus subtle badging. It could be argued that the SQ5 is a little too subtle for the $57,000 starting price.

Inside

Audi has been referenced as the high point in interior design. I would agree that the latest products have some wonderful materials and design but this SQ5 is starting to show its age a bit. The screen in the dash is on the small side compared to huge screens from BMWs X3 and domestic brands like the Jeep Grand Cherokee. The lower parts of the dash and doors still have hard plastic bits, where BMW does a better job of covering theirs in soft-touch materials. Even on this top model, Audi still charges a whopping $3,200 for navigation and $1,000 for the Bang & Olufson sound system. In this day of navigation-equipped smartphones, the obscene amounts car companies charge for navi-equipped cars will soon end.

On the positive side, the SQ5 is fitted with superb seats that are bolstered perfectly and covered in ultra-soft leather. The seating position is first rate as is outward visibility, cargo space and rear seat room.

Drive

The base Q5 is fitted with a turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder with 220hp. This model is a nice balance of fuel economy and driving pleasure. The SQ5 comes with a supercharged 3.0L V6 with a heart stopping 347hp. The base car will take a run to 100km/h in 7.1 seconds, the SQ5 in just 5.3 seconds, almost a full 2 seconds quicker. What is the most impressive part of the SQ5 is just how good it is to drive in any situation, thanks to the standard Audi Drive Select system. Being able to change the sensitivity of the steering, throttle response, transmission changes and even the sound of the engine, makes this SQ5 a pleasure in stop and go driving or full throttle passing on the highway. I found the comfort setting to be best in the city and the dynamic setting for open road cruising. The ride is firm and very responsive without being too choppy and combined with the potent engine can be placed into corners and is sucked to the pavement thanks to a sophisticated Quattro AWD system.

Verdict

The Q5 is a solid choice for anyone looking for a premium compact SUV. The base 4-cylinder model starts at $40,900 and is the best seller. This SQ5 is the powerhouse version and does everything so well, point it where you want to go and it will get the driver there with a smile on their face. What might be the best of both worlds in the 3.0L turbocharged diesel Q5 with 428 lb.-ft. of thunderous torque that makes it very quick, but also more fuel-efficient, or the detuned 3.0L supercharged V6 with 272hp.

Contact: zack [dot] spencer [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

The Lowdown

Power: 3.0L supercharged V6 with 347hp

Fill-up: 13.2L/8.5L/100km (city/highway)

Sticker price: $57,000

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