Audi Adds Hot CUV to Lineup with SQ5, But Why?
In a first for Audi, the luxury automaker will add the S designation, used to denote sporty models with more powerful engines than standard, to one of its SUVs. The modified Q5 crossover will be called the SQ5, and will feature a supercharged (!) 3.0L V6 producing 354hp and 347lb-ft of torque. This will be enough to launch the 4,100lb CUV from 0-60mph in 5.3 seconds.
The SQ5 is significant in that until now, S and RS labels have applied only to Audi’s coupe, sedan, and convertible offerings. Although no Audis could be considered lightweight, it seems somehow wrong to follow in the footsteps of BMW and Mercedes and (in my eyes at least), devalue the high-performance moniker and slap it on an automobile clearly not meant to tackle road curves. The first of the offenders was Mercedes, when the ML55 AMG was brought to market in 1999 as a MY 2000 vehicle. Insomuch as the normal ML would never see off-road duty, the ML55 would not set foot on a track. The car was for people that wanted an SUV and a muscle car but didn’t understand you could just buy an ML and a V8 Mustang for the same money.
Next came the stupid X5M and X6M from BMW, another move that made longtime M devotees cry foul. For decades, the M brand meant a hardcore, mostly track-ready coupe or sedan that did double duty as a reasonable daily driver (the E39 M5 is still my favorite BMW). In the interest of increasing the bottom line, however, the gluttonous X5 and X6 twins were burdened with a twin turbo-V8 that moved their 2-1/2 ton asses in 3.9-4.2 seconds. Although the speed numbers are great for such a large, bulky car, it also seems like one of those “answers to a question nobody asked” deals. So far, Audi has been restrained and not shoehorned a massive engine into the huge three-row Q7, but the entry-level (for now) CUV will soon carry a supercharged 6-cylinder under the hood.
The real question is, of course, will anyone care? The Q5 does well, sales-wise. It is the second-highest selling Audi vehicle after the A4, although the Q5 was outsold by the BMW X3 and Mercedes GLK last year. The platform itself is shared with all Audi sedans and coupes except the A3, TT, and R8, and is rumored to also be the basis for the upcoming Porsche crossover.
The Audi SQ5 will be on sale this fall, while other markets will be receiving the diesel SQ5 in spring. No pricing for the U.S. model has yet been announced,