I’ve sometimes been accused of being a socialist because I find it difficult to justify most high-priced automobiles.
I’m not a socialist.
I love the Audi SQ5, which has been redesigned for 2018 and will cost nearly $66,000 fully optioned.
But if you ask me for that kind of money, I am demanding something in return.
“Prestige” alone won’t do it. You are selling the vehicle to me, not my neighbors. What I buy has to please and make sense to me.
The 2018 SQ5 does that. It is a beautiful machine but is not a motorized bauble. It is a vehicle with tangibly upgraded and useful technology.
It has a new turbocharged 3.0-liter gasoline V-6 engine that delivers 354 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque.
Horsepower approximately remains the same as previous SQ5 models, but torque, engine twisting power, the real work of the engine, has been improved. It produces about 23 more pound-feet of torque than its predecessor but does it at lower engine revolutions than previous models.
The movement is quick, smooth. You fall in love with it.
Handling is excellent. I live in a wonderfully twisty and undulating section of Northern Virginia. The new SQ5 seems engineered to fit the topography.
Long highway drives in this one are a delight. You, of course, are responsible for paying attention to the road and surrounding traffic. But the new SQ5, with Prestige and S-Sport trim packages, offers “driver assistance” items that reduce the stress of motoring in long-distance, high-speed traffic and moving through urban congestion.
The Sport package comes with an adaptive air suspension that delivers a smooth ride on well-paved or chronically pockmarked surfaces. Coupled with the new V-6 engine and all-new chassis, driving feels like flying in this one.
A virtual driver’s cockpit that digitally displays vehicle speed; blind-side monitoring and a top view camera system; dual-pane acoustic glass for front and side windows that support the soundproofing of a whisper-quiet interior; full-color head-up display and a 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen 3-D sound system (think Imax theater in a car) are all part of the Prestige package in the new SQ5.
The SQ5’s seats — affixed with diamond-stitched, Nappa leather covering — are supremely comfortable. You sit in them simply to relax — no need to drive anywhere.
The overall body structure of the SQ5 is different from that of the regular Audi Q5 SUV. It is sleeker, more wagon-like than SUV. It clearly is Audi’s response to other SUV models that more resemble sport wagons — the Porsche Macan, Mercedes-Benz GLC Series, Jaguar F-Pace and Alfa Romeo Stelvio.
But, with the exception of the Mercedes-Benz GLC, I exited the rivals thinking: “Nice but extravagant.” The Stelvio struck me as late to the party in attractive, but faultily stitched clothing. The new SQ5 just left me smiling and wanting more and willing, somehow, to pay for it.
Bottom line: If you are looking for more of a wagon than an SUV, for something that says “premium” to you before or as loudly as it speaks “top quality” to anyone else, if you have the money, you can spend it on the 2018 all-wheel-drive Audi SQ5 with no fear of buyer’s remorse.
Ride, acceleration and handling: It is fast, about 0 to 60 miles per hour in 5.8 seconds. But most of us aren’t going to risk the ire of law enforcement officials. Just take comfort in the SQ5’s perfectly comfortable ride and handling.
Head-turning quotient: It is the kind of attractiveness that bespeaks “today and tomorrow” rather than just “today.” It has the kind of depth, inside and out, that indicates its maker has vision.
Body style/layout: The SQ5 is a front engine, all-wheel-drive member of the Audi Q5 sport-utility family, but it is more sport than utility.
Engine/transmission: It comes with a turbocharged (forced air) 3.0-liter gasoline, 24-valve V-6 with variable-speed lift and timing. The engine is linked to an eight-speed automatic transmission that also can be operated manually.
Capacities: Seating is for five people. Estimated cargo capacity with all seats in place is 29.1 cubic feet. It is approximately 60 cubic feet with seats lowered. Estimated fuel capacity is 19.8 gallons. Premium grade is required.
Real-world mileage: Expensive. I averaged 22 miles per gallon city-highway.
Safety: Standard equipment includes front and rear ventilated disc brakes; four-wheel anti-lock brake protection; emergency braking assistance; pre-collision and post-collision safety systems; Audi pre-sense city (pedestrian protection, low-speed collision mitigation) system; stability and traction control; side and head air bags.
Pricing: The 2018 Audi SQ5 3.0T Quattro (with all-wheel-drive) starts at $54,300. It is $65,800 as driven, including $10,525 in options (Prestige and Sport packages and other items) and a $975 factory-to-dealer shipment charge. The SQ5 is in a highly competitive market segment. Dealers are willing to bargain.