Perhaps the most enjoyable car to drive in 2014 is one you wouldn’t even stop to admire in a parking lot. The 2014 Audi SQ5 ($51,900+, our model, $64,000) doesn’t have ostentatious styling; its idling engine wouldn’t wake a sleeping babe; it can seat a family of four comfortably with room for luggage. Yet it’s an absolute powerhouse.
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Only slight exterior pieces, like a horizontal grille and the requisite S line silver mirrors and spoiler, differentiate the SQ5 from the regular Q5 (which is currently outselling the A4). However, drop the seemingly pedestrian crossover into sport mode and and the SQ5 comes alive, quad exhaust pipes howling with the effluence of 354 horsepower. The car’s isolation left us wanting for more excitement, but the instrument cluster carried the point: 60 mph in around 5 seconds.
Engine: 3.0-liter, direct-inject supercharged V6
Torque: 346 lb-ft
0-60: 5.1 seconds
Transmission: 8-speed Tiptronic with Quattro All-Wheel-Drive
Fuel Economy: 16/23
Weight: 4,409 lbs
Other Notables: 155 mph top speed
The interior is trimmed with an athletic luxury, including a flat bottom steering wheel, aluminum-layered black wood inlays, Alcantara, heated and chilled cup holders and very comfortable seats. Installing a child seat, loading the trunk full of camera gear, chauffeuring three adults and mounting a bike on the roof rack were easily tackled all at once, with plenty of room left over.
The SQ5 is a fast, fun car that will take down many a red-light challenger, even loaded up from a thorough trip to Costco or Home Depot. Unfortunately, after dropping $64,000 for its understated speed and steady utility, your wallet will have to withstand continuous gut punches at the fuel pump. For a car that begs to be taken out for errands, 16/23 mpg is downright sad.