2018 Audi SQ5 First Drive: Young Love

Posted on May 24 2017 - 5:36am by Lisa Chan

We millennials have it so easy. Our parents—those (you!) know-it-all baby boomers—grew up making “hard” choices such as which two cars to buy for your young family’s commute and weekend escapes. We, the allegedly entitled millennial generation, typically have the attention span (and budget) to buy just the one car. And whether we have Tesla money or Toyota money, we expect our ride to do everything—it must be an economical commuter, a comfortable grand tourer, and a light off-roader, and it should be fun to drive.

2018 Audi SQ5

For the well-heeled among us, the European luxury automakers have gotten quite good at filling this particular niche. And with the 2018 Audi SQ5, the folks from Ingolstadt prove they know what those wealthier millennial (and younger Gen X) buyers want. Audi says the typical SQ5 owner skews male and is typically around 35 years old. That makes it the youngest demographic in the Audi line despite being more expensive than several other four-rings models. Audi seems to have found the formula that sets millennial hearts ablaze.

Based on the second-generation Q5, Audi’s redesigned SQ5 once again picks up where the mainstream Q5 leaves off. The old SQ5’s 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 gets replaced with a new 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6, with its single twin-scroll turbo nestled inside the engine’s vee to mitigate lag. Power is unchanged at 354 hp, but torque increases from 346 lb-ft to 369 lb-ft. Audi says the new turbocharged engine is 31 pounds lighter than the old V-6, and it is tuned to be more responsive, too. It’s also a big leap over the 252 hp and 273 lb-ft you get from the capable-enough 2.0-liter turbo in the standard Q5—which no longer offers a V-6 option.

Cruising Canada’s Vancouver Island, the SQ5 package proves to be quite compelling. The Audi’s new sheetmetal, further differentiated from the Q5 with a more aggressive front fascia, spoiler, and rear diffuser, looks sharp against the green Canadian rainforest. The new turbocharged V-6 fires up with a guttural roar but is otherwise quite docile when driving around town.

Although easygoing in city traffic, the SQ5’s powertrain is quick to wake up with an open road ahead. Firewall the throttle from a standstill, and the SQ5 rockets forward and into triple-digit speeds. Audi estimates 060 mph will take the new SQ5 5.1 seconds, but from behind the wheel I’d have to say the automaker’s PR department is attempting to avoid ruffling feathers at Porsche.

It might ultimately appear that those well-heeled millennials out there have an easy choice on their hands with the SQ5 and its jack-of-all trades demeanor, but the truth is their choice will be anything but. Although Audi says its average SQ5 buyer purchases the SQ5 for its performance and handling, the competitive set makes the choice difficult to make.