2014 Audi SQ5: The Jalopnik ReviewS

You have a tall gangly son. He's a good kid and, despite having the height of a jr. high Yao Ming, he doesn't seem particularly athletic. You picture a a future Debate Club presidency but then he starts running cross country. He's got a mean sprint, for sure, but he also looks like he's going to topple over any time he rounds a bend. Your son is the Audi SQ5.

(Full Disclosure: Audi gave me an SQ5 for a few days. I drove it for a few days. It rained most of those days. One morning I drove it to the dentist. My teeth were deemed "excellent." I have nothing else to add.)

In Europe, the Audi SQ5 is a small SUV in name only. It sits all hunkered down and with its diesel power, it has a low warble that makes it sound impossibly angry. I tend to think of the Euro-SQ5 as more large hot hatch than fast SUV.

Us United Statesians though... Our SQ5 is most definitely a small SUV that has been hotted up. The suspension isn't dropped, because the lower height wouldn't allow it to be considered a small SUV by American safety standards.

And, of course, Audi replaces the diesel powerplant with the familiar 3.0 supercharged V6 from the S5. The unique aspect of the Euro SQ5 is gone, but Audi can guarantee they'll actually sell some over here without oil burning power.

That formula gives us what I'd describe as a tall S5. It's also the latest addition to the ever dividing small crossover segment, this time giving us the small performance crossover. Add to that cars like the Porsche Macan (itself based on the Q5), the BMW X3 xDrive35i (with the M-Sport pack), and the almost inevitable GLK AMG, and every single automaker will need a hot road version of their crossover.

It's a market that doesn't make sense for every car buyer. What's happened is that a car that was semi-capable in poor conditions now has big wheels and low profile tires. It's still tall, so it isn't exactly a demon in the corners. But holy hell does it shine in a straight line.

It confuses the hell out of me.

Exterior: 6/10

2014 Audi SQ5: The Jalopnik ReviewS

As someone who loves Audi design across the model range, I find the Q5 to be the weak link. The translation of Audi's horseshoe grille and general design language to a cute ute just doesn't jive.

The recent facelift has updated the LED light signature up front to be an all encompassing rectangle (well, rhombus, but I digress), which makes the SQ5 look constantly surprised that it's on the road.

On the US-spec SQ5, the bigger wheels accentuate the height of the little ute, making it appear a little ungainly. Look at the dropped Euro-spec SQ5, and you'll see that its proportions are just right.

I do like the Q5 from behind, which is where I think the design is the most resolved of any angle. In this case, complimenting 'dat ass' is encouraged and polite.

Interior: 8/10

2014 Audi SQ5: The Jalopnik ReviewS

For all that the exterior isn't, the interior is. It's another typically beautiful effort in here from the brand with four rings. Logically placed knobs and dials along with comfortable seats and a swell steering wheel all create a pleasing environment.

A lot of people knock the Germans for being too rigid, logical, and organized. I heartily welcome it, especially when it comes to car interior design. The car is ultimately about the driver, and this is a driver-oriented cockpit.

Acceleration: 7/10

2014 Audi SQ5: The Jalopnik ReviewS

Why Audi labels this very supercharged mill a 3.0T is far beyond my realm of understanding. What is in my realm of understanding is when a car is fast.

This car is fast.

Both off the line and in-gear acceleration are far more than anyone seriously needs. It's one of those cars that surprises you. A small sojourn with your right foot will find out suddenly hurtling down a road at 90 MPH when you merely wanted to accelerate to 75. You can reach 60 mph in almost five seconds flat which, for a crossover, is closing in on ridiculous.

But the acceleration isn't visceral or involving. It just kind of happens. It's not like you feel alive like other fast cars where you need to pay extra attention or hold on tight. There's just something missing.

Braking: 7/10

2014 Audi SQ5: The Jalopnik ReviewS

Look, this isn't a race car. You aren't going to be going deep into a braking zone, getting hard on the binders, and cranking it into the apex.

No. What you're doing is slowing down lightly in traffic or for a bend. In those on-road cases, the SQ5 has a lovely, easy to modulate pedal. It's not that aggressive, but this is a crossover. It isn't an R8.

Ride: 7/10

2014 Audi SQ5: The Jalopnik ReviewS

It's not overly aggressive, and doesn't become a hardcore crazy machine at the touch of a button. Instead, it's fairly soft with some roll in the corners. It doesn't really pound the road into submission with authority. That's not what it's built to do though. It's made to be aggressively comfortable, which I think it accomplishes.

Handling: 6/10

2014 Audi SQ5: The Jalopnik ReviewS

That height doesn't help the cornering prowess. Don't get me wrong, it's pretty good in the twisties for a compact SUV, but the top heavy weight doesn't inspire the highest level of confidence.

The real issue comes from the steering, which has the sensitivity and feel of wet noodles. It's overboosted and doesn't communicate the road to the driver effectively. I'm sure it's plenty capable of being way faster than you'd ever need on a back road, but it just doesn't instill confidence through the wheel, unfortunately.

Gearbox: 8/10

ZF 8 speed automatic. It's fantastic. It's always fantastic. Next question.

Toys: 8/10

2014 Audi SQ5: The Jalopnik ReviewS

Cars these days are full of random toys. The SQ5 has all the ones you'd need, like blind spot monitoring, Audi's fantastic MMI interface, decent stereo, rear view cameras, and other bibs and bobs that make the SQ5 a perfectly adequate office on wheels.

Audio: 7/10

2014 Audi SQ5: The Jalopnik ReviewS

This isn't a guttural engine note, it's a little higher pitched, a little tinnier. It hits your ears, but not your soul. The stereo is decent. Not great. Not grand. But better than average. Altogether better than what you'd expect for a car in this class.

Value: 5/10

2014 Audi SQ5: The Jalopnik ReviewS

This SQ5 was about $60,000. Yes. American dollars. There are people out there who will buy it, evidenced by the fact that I know an owner and I've seen privately owned ones on the street.

I did like the SQ5, but I didn't like it for $60,000. In that realm, we're talking about getting some seriously good cars that make more logical sense. Cars that are powerful and also handle. You can also get a new Macan S, which will be just as fast as the SQ5 and I'm betting will drive better too.

Viewed alone, the SQ5 is a great family hauler that happens to be quick. But put it amongst cars in its own price range and it starts to fizzle pretty quickly. Give me an S4 and a set of snow tires instead.

69/100

Engine: 3.0L Supercharged V6
Power: 354 HP at 6,000 RPM/ 346 LB-FT at 4,000 RPM
Transmission: Eight-Speed Automatic
0-60 Time: 5.1 seconds
Top Speed: 155 mph
Drivetrain: All-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight: 4,409
Seating: 5 people
MPG: 16 City/23 Highway/19
MSRP: $51,900 (As tested, $60,000ish)