June 28, 2022

2021 Audi SQ5 Sportback.Matt Bubbers/The Globe and Mail

Audi has carried out extremely properly in Canada with the Q5, however it’s not instantly apparent why this compact SUV usually crushes its rivals within the gross sales charts.

It appears good-looking, however it isn’t significantly exceptional, nor does it provide extra space or energy than the competitors. It isn’t a smoking-hot deal, both. The Q5 is solely good. It’s vanilla, a jack-of-all trades, grasp of none, and – if we’re being sincere with ourselves – that’s precisely the form of machine most drivers want.

By way of the primary three quarters of this 12 months, the Q5 outsold all of its rivals by a hefty margin, in accordance with Goodcarbadcar information.

Regardless of that success, Audi determined the Q5 wanted some spice. Enter the SQ5 Sportback, a belated entry into the sporty, fastback SUV style. Up entrance, the Sportback is all enterprise, however on the rear it has a sweeping roofline that flows again like Patrick Swayze’s mullet. Beneath the hood, the common Q5′s four-cylinder motor has been tossed out and changed by a turbocharged 3.0-litre V6. The large engine offers the spicy Q practically 100 further horsepower, for a complete of 349 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque.

There are extra highly effective SUVs on the market. Mercedes, BMW, Porsche and Alfa-Romeo all provide extra excessive, extra-hot variations of their compact SUVs for religious and deep-pocketed driving lovers, however Audi doesn’t. There is no such thing as a RS Q5, and, frankly, the world doesn’t want one.

The motive force is confronted with Audi’s big all-screen ‘digital cockpit’ instrument cluster, which is very customizable and nice to see as commonplace gear.Matt Bubbers/The Globe and Mail

Whereas driving the Sportback, there’s a momentary delay because the turbocharger spins up and the eight-speed gearbox finds an appropriate cog, however then the SQ5 rears up and expenses ahead with authority. The V6′s muted growl received’t annoy passengers, but it presents a noticeably extra full-bodied soundtrack than the four-cylinder might muster.

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It’s a nice shock to discover a luxurious SUV with sporty aspirations that however prioritizes giving passengers a soothing journey as a substitute of flat-out corner-carving prowess. The SQ5′s steering is numb, however unflappably correct and never so heavy as to make driving a chore. Our check automotive got here with the non-compulsory $1,500 air suspension, which is comfortable sufficient for dangerous metropolis streets and doesn’t wilt on a very good twisty highway. It’s a contented medium, very best for the every day grind.

If you happen to’re in search of a coupe-shaped SUV like this, we’ll assume you’re prepared to sacrifice the consolation of rear-seat passengers within the identify of favor. Even so, for the reason that SQ5 is among the many smaller members of the compact SUV class – when it comes to width and wheelbase, the gap between the back and front wheels – the rear seats have been already tight to start with.

The motive force is confronted with Audi’s big all-screen “digital cockpit” instrument cluster, which is very customizable and nice to see as commonplace gear. That stated, it’s a disgrace Audi removed the bodily controls for the ten.1-inch central touchscreen. It’s at all times good to have actual buttons as shortcuts to oft-used capabilities, akin to navigation or music, since you don’t have to take your eyes off the highway to press them. However we’re residing in a touchscreen world.

If you happen to’re in search of a coupe-shaped SUV like this, we’ll assume you’re prepared to sacrifice the consolation of rear-seat passengers within the identify of favor.Matt Bubbers/The Globe and Mail

All instructed, the $68,450 SQ5 Sportback is roughly $20,000 greater than the bare-bones Q5, which is a large premium, however nonetheless on par with European rivals.

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What Audi has carried out right here is sensible. The SQ5 Sportback provides a pinch of spice to the Q5, with the swooping roofline and massive V6 engine, however at its coronary heart that is nonetheless a vanilla, jack-of-all-trades SUV, solely sooner. If you happen to’re in search of a sports activities automotive in sensible clothes, look elsewhere. For most individuals, although, the comparatively tame SQ5 must be good – except you’re prepared and capable of go electrical.

In that case, you’d do properly to attend for the absolutely electrical Audi This autumn e-tron SUV, which is because of arrive later this 12 months. It’s barely smaller than the Q5, however it must be equally spacious inside as a result of it’s constructed on a devoted EV platform. There’s no want to go away house for issues like a transmission tunnel or a giant V6 engine up entrance. Not solely that, the This autumn may have some fascinating new high-tech options and – beginning at slightly below $60,000 – it’s considerably cheaper than the Tesla Mannequin Y and Audi’s personal SQ5.

The Sportback loses out on 26-litres of trunk house over the common SQ5, which, in a compact SUV like this, makes a distinction.Matt Bubbers/The Globe and Mail

Tech specs

2021 Audi SQ5 Sportback

Base worth/as examined: $68,450 (2022) / $79,885

Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged V6

Transmission/drive: eight-speed automated/all-wheel drive

Gas economic system (litres/100 kilometres): 12.5 metropolis, 9.7 freeway

Alternate options: Audi This autumn e-tron, Lexus RX 450h, BMW X4 M40, Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 Coupe, Porsche Macan S, Tesla Mannequin Y, Genesis GV70, Cadillac XT5 V6, Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Volvo XC60 Inscription, Jaguar F-Tempo P340, Vary Rover Velar R-Dynamic

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Appears to be like

Unmistakably Audi, however not particularly memorable.

Inside

Diving into the choice listing is a cheaper proposition than it’s with different luxurious manufacturers and the SQ5 is properly geared up as-is. Rivals do provide a bigger vary of color, trim and customization choices.

Efficiency

It’ll do 0-100 km/h in 5.0 seconds, simply shy of rivals just like the Macan S or Mercedes GLC, however the Audi can deal with itself simply high quality on a twisty highway. The eight-speed gearbox doesn’t at all times ship the speediest shifts, and the automated engine cease/begin may be jerky so you might end up switching it off. A torque-vectoring rear differential is non-compulsory, however most likely overkill for many consumers.

Expertise

For the cash, the SQ5 comes with loads of good commonplace tech. To the bottom Progressiv trim, all we’d add is metallic paint ($890), rear aspect airbags ($500) and the $1,700 driver help bundle, which brings lane preserving help and adaptive cruise management, amongst different issues.

Cargo

The Sportback loses out on 26-litres of trunk house over the common SQ5, which, in a compact SUV like this, makes a distinction. For that cause, we’d advocate the cheaper non-Sportback mannequin, except you completely love the look of the fastback.

Verdict

A jack-of-all-trades, grasp of none, the SQ5 Sportback provides energy with out compromise on consolation.

The author was a visitor of the automaker. Content material was not topic to approval.

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