Test Drives

Audi SQ 5 review



SINGAPORE – Singaporeans love queuing, almost as much as Malaysians and Hong Kongers, but I think the denizens of the Lion City would surely win in an international queuing contest. We might not last long, but when it comes to food, the insatiable lust for say, one of the best char kuay teow in a 20km radius will simply not be deterred by a 20-minute wait.

Thankfully, Singaporean hawkers are also a very enterprising bunch and they usually have their production line processes down pat. One fish soup stall near the CarBuyer HQ is quite famous for having an auto-dispenser for chili and chopsticks. This gives rise to the phenomenon of a fast queue, one that looks slow, but is actually over before you know.

Yes, what’s coming up is a terrible pun, but hey, we gotta entertain ourselves somehow, too. The Audi SQ5 is very much like a fast queue – it doesn’t look it, but it actually goes really quick.

It comes off the back of the refreshed Q5 which was facelifted last year and received new lights, grille, air intake as well as an additional influx of LED technology (LEDs are like tech cocaine), with new-design DRLs and tail-lights.

The SQ5 itself remains very stealthy, as go-faster versions go. The most obvious difference are the 21-inch wheels and quad-tailpipe setup, as found throughout the S range. What’s also different is the grille, which gets horizontal bars instead of vertical, and the SQ5 also has more brightwork in the form of chrome trim around the foglights and Audi’s ‘high-performance’ silver mirrors. Bung your eyeball closer and you’ll spot the larger brakes with SQ5 lettering, the model badge and side skirts.

On the inside it gets special sport seats (Nappa leather, feel it) with contrast stitching (also on the three-spoked steering wheel), grey dials, a sprinkling of S model badges and new-design shift paddles. It’s all very nice, although the S3 does it just as well, and has a nifty little boost gauge too.

Like the S4 and S5, the SQ5 now sports the familiar, 3.0-litre supercharged V6 engine, also notably found in the Q5 3.0 TFSI model. But it is, Audi boasts, the most powerful iteration of this engine thus far. The other two S models, and the stock 3.0 model, all get 333bhp and 272bhp respectively, unlike the 354bhp of the SQ5, and it makes 70Nm more torque than the latter as well.

All that spells for quite a bit of tyre squeal and a bit of squelch as your passengers are pressed into the seats. The V6 hasn’t go the most stirring soundtrack, but it’s more than made up by the ‘I’m going how fast?!’ feeling when checking the speedo. The V6 snorts, the all-wheel drive maximises grip and you’re launched, rocket-like, away. There’s one ‘new’ piece of equipment, the eight-speed ZF gearbox, which replaces the old dual-clutch gearbox of the pre-facelift Q model. It’s not as fast or dramatic as the blurping dual-clutch S Tronic box, but it’s seamless and neat.

Unlike the 3.0 TFSI, and like the S3, the SQ5 makes do with a fixed-rate sport suspension setup whic also sits 30mm lower, although the driver can tune the drivetrain, steering weight and exhaust sound through the Drive Select system.

It sounds contrary to logic – why lower a SUV and take away adaptive shocks? – but in reality this isn’t to the SQ5’s detriment at all, as the sport suspension setup is very well-judged. In fact, it’s probably the best-riding S model around, especially since you can still straightline speed humps with it, then sling it all giggly into a corner with a slight roll and set, then power out thanks to the scads of grip. Overall, and typical of an S car, it does fun runs as easily as it does refined cruises.

Are there drawbacks? Well, the V6 in this application is full of power and torque, but it’s not the most stirring engine around in terms of soundtrack. In more general terms of character, the SQ5 isn’t a hooligan, but a very capable tool that lends itself to the driver’s needs.

There’s a very good case for buying one, though. The Q5 3.0 TFSI is already quicker than its key competition, the X3 xDrive35i. The SQ5 has just as much equipment than the 3.0, but also packs all the extra S stuff, for around 10 percent more. On paper, additionally, it consumes marginally (0.2L/100km) more than that model too.

So, if you’re ever in say, Shenton way, and have a cross-country craving for Changi Village’s nasi lemak, take the fast Q. There’s nothing you can do about the queue, though.

Audi SQ5

NEED TO KNOW
Engine 2,995cc, 24V, supercharged V6
Power 345bhp at 6,000-6500rpm
Torque 470Nm at 4,000-4500rpm
Gearbox 8-speed automatic
Top Speed 210km/h
0-100kmh 5.4 seconds
Fuel efficiency 8.7L/100km
CO2 202g/km
Price $333,050 with COE
Availability Now

Also Consider: BMW x3 xDrive35i, Porsche Macan

Photos by Derryn Wong

 

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Derryn Wong