Thursday, March 7, 2019


Three things you can count on in a German luxury car:

— The latest in technology will be available. It will be fussy, and sometimes frustrating, to operate.

— The cabin will live up to the highest standards of luxury while giving you the feel of a high-class English gentleman’s club.

— It will go like a bat out of hell.

The 2019 SQ5 from Audi encompasses all three.

Get up and go?

While Audi touts the “sporty performance” the base Q5 delivers. the SQ5 simply ups the ante.

The 3.0T V6 in the SQ5 kicks horsepower and torque up to 349 and 369, respectively, from the 252/273 the 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder in the Q5 offers.

And you get a smooth-shifting 8-speed Tiptronic transmission instead of the 7-speed that is mated to the 4-banger.

The zero-to-60 mph time for the 3.0T has been reported at 5.1 seconds, nearly a second quicker than that for the Q5 and its 2.0 turbo and with fuel economy still at a respectable 19 miles-per-gallon city, 24 highway, 21 combined.

So, yeah, it can go like that bat.

And, it does so in comfort and quiet — unless you switched driving mode from Comfort to Dynamic, thereby changing the exhaust sounds from subtle to sporty. Not that “sporty” will make the SQ5 sound like a 12-cylinder with a broken muffler, but it will be a bit more throaty.

Probably the most distinguishing characteristic of the SQ5s interior is the available Audi virtual cockpit. This 12.3 inch display is right in front of the driver and allows the driver to scroll through — using buttons on the steering wheel — several functions for desired information, from radio settings to trip logs with fuel mileage to full navigation maps.

With the tachometer and speedometer reduced in scale, the driver has a complete map displayed right between the steering wheel spokes, eliminating the need to use the map on the screen at the top of the centerstack.

At a time when Smart phones are driving people away from automobile navigation systems, the virtual cockpit may bring them back.

Standard equipment for the base MSRP for the SQ5, already a hefty $54,300 over the base Q5’s $42,950, includes the quattro all-wheel-drive system common to the brand, 20-inch wheels, full LED headlights and taillights, 6-way power adjustable front seats with 4-way power lumbar, quilted Alcantara leather seats, three-zone climate control, flat-bottom steering wheel with paddle shifters, and a rearview camera.

Here comes what Shakespeare’s Hamlet called “the rub.”

The exotic stuff that makes the SQ5 really special comes in standalone or optional packages like the Prestige Package (a head-up display, dual pane acoustic front side windows, a premium Bang & Olufsen sound system, Audi MMI navigation with MMI touch and a top view camera system, which gives you a confident feeling when pulling out of a parking space), Sport Package (red brake calipers, adaptive air suspension, sport rear differential), Driver Assistance Package, Nappa leather interior with diamond stitching and a leatherette covered center console, Dynamic steering (which I could do without), and 21-inch, 5-double spoke wheels.

And that stuff comes at a cost. The final price of my test vehicle up to $68,175 including the $975 destination and delivery.

That’s a pretty good jump from the base Q5. That’s also something else you can count on when it comes to a German luxury car.

What I liked about the 2019 Audi SQ5 3.0T: I really like Virtual Cockpit feature that puts a duplicate map for navigation in the middle of the instrument panel right in front of the driver's eyes. It's part of the Prestige package. The Virtual Cockpit displays other functions but the map alone makes it worth the extra $4,200.

What I didn’t like about the 2019 Audi SQ5 3.0T: The response to voice commands when setting a destination on the nav system was erratic, and putting in a destination manually takes a while. The dynamic steering is kind of quirky. The tugs I felt on occasion could have been the lane-keeping system in the Driver Assistance Package, but I was dead center in the lane.

Would I buy the 2019 Audi SQ5 3.0T? Yes. If you’re shopping in the compact luxury class, it definitely has to be on your list.

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