Audi SQ5 Sportback 3.0 TFSI Review: The Sleek & (Very) Stealthy SUV GT

Audi SQ5 Sportback 3.0 TFSI Review: The Sleek & (Very) Stealthy SUV GT

Ronald Chua
Ronald Chua
17 Oct 2022
Audi has taken the coupe SUV concept and created a versatile vehicle that customers want...
What we like:
pros
Excellent V6 engine note
pros
Performance
pros
Comfort (air suspension option is a must)
What we dislike:
cons
Light steering

When the concept of a Coupe SUV was first launched, I found it rather bewildering to have a low-slung body, a swooping roofline and a high ride height. It seemingly defeated the purpose of having a commodious SUV in the first place. From memory, the BMW X6 was the first car to embrace this new generation of car design in 2008.

A decade later, many other manufacturers have jumped on the bandwagon and offer the same concept in their model line-up. Audi launched its sporty SQ5 in Coupe SUV guise earlier this year. Termed ‘Sportback’ in Audi speak, the car looks like a usual Q5 from the front but presents a sleek and dynamic roofline. The roof begins to slope downward rather sharply after the B-pillars resulting in very distinctly tapered third side windows. It looks even sleeker with the satin chrome window garnishes.

From the rear, the SQ5 Sportback has a sloped rear window, almost at a 45-degree angle. The bumper is mounted high with 4 exhaust pipes hinting at this car’s capability and performance. Two satin chrome garnishes run along the entire width of the car at the trunk and just above the exhaust pipes which increase the stance of the SQ5 Sportback. (Hidden Mickey: the 4 exhaust pipes are purely aesthetic; the real sport exhaust system is hidden behind).

I like how Audi has made the SQ5 so subtle that only true car enthusiasts will be able to differentiate this high-performance version from the usual Q5. Aesthetically, there are only SQ5 badges at the front and rear, aluminum side mirrors and massive 21-inch rims that hint that this is a true S model. This press car comes with optional rims for an additional $688 but the offset V-spokes look much better than the regular 21-inch rims – a worthy upgrade!

Audi has not produced a RS model for the Q5 range (for regular readers, the RS would be equivalent to a BMW M Series or Mercedes AMG) whilst the S models slot in between with numerous performance upgrades.

Start the engine of the SQ5 Sportback and the 3-litre V6 engine comes alive with a deep and bassy burble. The twin-scroll turbocharged engine produces 349 hp and 500 Nm with full torque available between 1,370 to 4,500 rpm. The sports exhaust system also has an actuator which further accentuates the burbling. Top speed is 250 km/h and 0 to 100 is achieved in 5 seconds (It feels much faster in reality!).

Power is put down onto the road via an 8-speed Tiptronic automatic gearbox and Audi’s renowned Quattro permanent all-wheel-drive system. The gearbox shifts sharply and smoothly and is welcome in comparison to dual clutch transmissions. The front brakes look small inside the 21-inch wheels but they are actually massive 375 mm discs with 6-pot calipers.

The party piece of this press car is its optional adaptive air suspension. The air suspension adjusts the car’s ride height automatically depending on the selected drive mode. The car will be in the lowest height in Dynamic mode and highest in Allroad mode but I highly doubt anyone would take this machine anywhere further than the football or rugby pitches at Dempsey on a weekend school match. There is also a certain cool factor when you can visibly see and feel the car lowering itself at the rear and then at the front when different drive modes are selected. Other cars around you will definitely wonder what is happening!

On the go, the car is supremely comfortable. The air suspension ensures a cossetting ride in Comfort mode but select Dynamic mode and the SQ5 Sportback turns and darts into corners very sharply. Impressive for a car that weighs close to 1.9 tonnes and it will also put a smile on your face around a strip of curvy tarmac such as South Buona Vista Road. Most importantly, the ride is never harsh nor does it jolt passengers even in Dynamic mode and 21-inch wheels. The $4,768 optional extra air suspension is a definite must-have. As with large Audis, the steering feels overly assisted and could do with more weight and feedback to inspire more confidence in a car that is this capable.

Throughout the 3-day test drive, I found myself driving around in Dynamic mode most of the time. The SQ5 Sportback sounds amazing in Dynamic mode and you can hear the V6 engine burbling at idle. Like the car’s looks, it is subtle yet intoxicating enough to remind you of the car’s potential. I also found the car always in the right power range in Dynamic mode which made driving in heavy CBD traffic or in merging lanes a cinch. Drive in Comfort or Auto mode and the exhaust actuator closes to provide a very quiet drive to enjoy the music from the 19 speaker Bang & Olufsen 3D premium sound system.

The interior of the SQ5 Sportback is of typical Audi quality. Every button and lever feels solidly assembled and makes a satisfying ‘click’ when pressed. It feels like every button was engineered to deliver the same feedback and tactility when pressed. Driver ergonomics is also top notch with a centre console that is angled to the driver. The flat-bottomed steering wheel also comes with intuitive physical buttons instead of capacitive touch buttons.

Passengers will find the interior a very cosy place. The interior’s dark colours are well matched with carbon fibre trimmings on the doors, dashboard and centre console. The quilted leather seats are very comfortable and supportive. I was pleasantly surprised that back seat headroom was more than adequate for tall passengers despite the sloping roofline. Rear passengers will also find that they have their own aircon temperature controls as well as door integrated sunshades.

With the optional air suspension, the SQ5 Sportback can be lowered to load heavy and bulky items. Press a button in the trunk and you can hear the suspension release air from its rear suspension to lower the loading sill. Luggage compartment remains a practical 500-litres despite its sloping roof and can be increased to 1,480-litres with all the rear seats folded.

The Audi SQ5 Sportback is a car of many virtues. It has a muscular and dynamic look but retains a higher ride height which makes entry and exit easier. It also provides performance on-demand but has the capability to cosset its passengers. Audi has taken the coupe SUV concept and created a versatile vehicle that customers want.

At $427,877, the Audi SQ5 Sportback is also priced 30 grand cheaper than its closest German rival, the Mercedes GLC 43 AMG 4Matic Coupe. This car makes plenty of sense and that is perhaps why there is no need for a RSQ5.

Verdict

A coupe SUV that Audi has executed well – great for Executives that appreciate refinement and performance in a subtle package.

Photos by Horizon Drivers' Club

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