Mountain Wheels: ultra-sporty Audi SQ5 Sportback delivers sedan-like performance

The stylish Audi SQ5 Sportback is pictured on one of those wildfire sunset parties earlier this year. With 349 horsepower, it is a powerful machine.
Andy Stonehouse / Courtesy photo

Be careful what you hope, electrified car fans: over the next three weeks I drive the fully electric all-wheel drive VW id. 4, plus a Hyundai Kona EV and even the Jeep Wrangler 4xe electric-hybrid, you’ll get so your Christmas wish lists are all sorted.

Meanwhile, a chic mountain favorite that could be a telltale sign of the economic changes underway in Summit County, where single-family home purchases are now higher than ever. So a fancy 2021 Audi SQ5 Sportback, which might traditionally be more of an Aspen or Vail type of ride.

Audi itself has played down its national press loan program, so I’ve only driven a few new models in two years. But the fast and very impressive car serves as a sort of halo model for the technology found in the more popular Q5 and Q3 SUVs, so I think that’s still appropriate.

Priced at $ 66,640, which is $ 10,000 worth of upgrades and options from the sticker price, it’s a little cash but definitely a lot of flash. The Sportback is a new option which, like the A5, A7 and e-Tron models, enjoys a more coupe-like design than the standard SQ5.

The S part of the vehicle name refers to performance and styling improvements that include a 3.0-liter turbo V6 engine with a mild hybrid energy recovery system, giving the German assembled in Mexico (with an engine Hungarian) 349 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. Add to that the Quattro all-wheel drive system and it’s definitely an engine, capable of going from zero to 60 in 4.7 seconds and flying absolutely in any weather possible, as I’m sure you’ve seen others. members of his family do so. on mountain passes.

What surprised me most about what could be an uncomfortably stiff ride if it was in an equally upgraded Mercedes was the smoothness of the SQ5’s optional sport adaptive air suspension. On the road, it allows the still very much SUV-shaped vehicle to corner in a much more low-sedan-like fashion, with racy stability as a trade-off – but none of the nonsense of a cringing track car. ‘an over-welded AMG Benz.

And it still performs quite well off-road, as I found it for a while on gravel, as it rode on 20-inch Continental Cross Contact all-season tires, grippy but still capable. I always forget to operate the vehicle’s adaptive drive mode selector in real and dedicated off-road mode; the all-rounder tuning offers a mix of stability and speed when off the road or when venturing into the snow.

I have to admit there was more than a tangible puff of turbo lag, even in the higher response performance mode, but once it gets to around 30mph it feels incredibly fast and almost unstoppable. .

That 3.0-liter horsepower is pretty relentless and sounds great when high revs kick in, so it’s pretty easy to get 15 mpg while giving it all it’s got. Conversely, I also hit up to 44 mpg with a smoother ride, although I would say the 24 mpg highway driving figure on the EPA sticker might be the golden mean – with some control. self.

SQ5 is also an attractive vehicle which is scaled to help avoid the ugliness of large SUVs; the lines are crisp, curved at the rear, and maybe even a bit chunky with the tailgate open, but all the S-specific details and facial features (and even the red brake calipers) give it plenty of presence. .

Best of all, the height is still designed to slide easily into those incredibly reinforced, glove-like nappa leather seats, without climbing aboard. Although the height near the sidewalks of the front and rear parking sensors might have helped explain why they always seemed to beeping me, all the time. The rear seats are also sufficient for the size of the SQ5.

Mine had an upgraded cabin with real carbon fiber, a Bang and Olufsen 3D audio system, and a race-style wheel, with the performance to support that gesture.

The updated layout brings a console with two slightly odd open-top bins and a sliding cup holder / cargo bed, as well as a power button that is perhaps a bit hidden.

I appreciated the ability to minimize the sometimes overwhelming display of fully digital instruments; navigation was not enabled on the 10.1-inch MMI touchscreen, denying its usefulness.

Like all modern German automobiles, the lane keeping program really does what it wants, not what you would like, so I saved it for my own trips.

Andy Stonehouse

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