Fast and Speedy, Regardless of the Shoe
If you just happen to be wondering how a 2015 Audi SQ5 performs at the limit while wearing winter tires, then you’re in luck because that’s exactly what we did with an SQ5 tester that recently rolled into our office.
The tires caught us off guard for a number of reasons. For starters, the SQ5 is the speedy member of the Q5 family, which means it usually rolls into the showroom wearing summer tires. Also, this test car was delivered to our Los Angeles headquarters and not our wintry Detroit office — there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, the roads were bone dry, and the nearest hint of snow was hours away. Scheduling and availability constraints meant we were stuck with this SQ5 with an accidental set of winters.
Not all was lost because we already had test numbers from the summer tire-shod SQ5 that participated in our 2014 SUV of the Year contest. Driving impressions were still relatively fresh in our minds, too — although the SQ5 didn’t win the competition, many editors considered it one of the most fun and memorable competitors.
So would this SQ5 wearing a set of Dunlop SP Winter Sport 3D tires ruin those fond memories? Not completely.
Steering feel is heavier and stickier than normal when driving at parking lot speeds, almost like you’re driving on duct tape. Attacking a corner at the limit gets even more interesting. With the winter tires, we found ourselves needing to brake sooner to cut down speed. Meanwhile, initial turn-in feels as if the back tires are slipping on banana peels for a quick second before they bite down on the road. The 60-to-0-mph distance numbers confirmed our braking observations: 123 feet with winter tires versus a respectable 104 feet from the SQ5 we tested with Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT summer tires.
On the figure-eight course, the winter-ready SQ5 did surprisingly well. Its lap time of 26.5 seconds was just a sixth of a second behind the SQ5 with summer rubbers.
Straight-line performance was an even bigger surprise. Sprinting from 0 to 60 mph took just 4.4 seconds, which actually beats the SQ5 with summers by 0.4 second. It maintained its lead through the quarter mile, posting a time of 13.1 seconds to the summer tires’ 13.5 seconds. This is the part where Motor Trend hot shoe Randy Pobst would say the winter tires really help put the power down.
That power, by the way, comes from the same 3.0-liter, supercharged V-6 that churns out 354 hp and 347 lb-ft of torque. It’s still as gutsy and mean-sounding as we remembered it. In fact, some might say it feels more alive and powerful than the Porsche Macan Turbo, which produces 400 hp from its twin-turbo, 3.6-liter V-6. Still, the Porsche has a slight advantage over the SQ5 (with either tire), needing just 4.2 seconds to get to 60 mph and 25.0 seconds to complete the quarter mile. Step down to the 340-hp Macan S, however, and you’ll lose the 0 to 60 mph battle with a time of 4.9 seconds.
The SQ5’s performance is impressive when you consider it’s fitted with a fantastic eight-speed automatic, compared with the Macan’s quicker seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. The Audi, however, has the slight edge in fuel efficiency with EPA numbers of 17/24 mpg city/highway versus 17/23 mpg for both the Macan S and Macan Turbo.
When it comes to price, the SQ5’s base MSRP of $53,625 sits between the two Porsches. The Macan S starts at $50,895, and the Macan Turbo demands a lofty $73,295. And in typical Porsche fashion, those Macans can get rather pricey once options are taken into consideration. There is, however, no contest when it comes to interior craftsmanship and luxury — the new Porsche Macan has an absolutely stunning cabin that reflects its price. Meanwhile, the SQ5’s interior is decent enough. Just don’t look or sit inside a Golf R beforehand. (The Golf R has better, more supportive seats, too.)
Still, the SQ5 is a relative bargain in the growing compact-ish luxury performance crossover segment. Its combination of speed and practicality makes it a bona fide sleeper, and although its interior has seen better days, its sheetmetal has aged quite nicely and can hold its own standing next to the Macan. Better yet, the SQ5 is ready to perform on the spot, regardless of what shoes it’s wearing.
|2015 Audi SQ5|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$59,525|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV|
|ENGINE||3.0L/354-hp/346-lb-ft supercharged DOHC 24-valve V-6|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||4,373 lb (54/46%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||183.0 x 75.2 x 65.3 in|
|0-60 MPH||4.4 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||13.1 sec @ 104.2 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||123 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.82 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||26.5 sec @ 0.72 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||17/24/19 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY||198/140 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.99 lb/mile|