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My 6 month SQ5 review

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Old 05-24-2014, 07:48 PM   #1
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Default My 6 month SQ5 review

I've had my SQ5 for 6 months and 5600 miles now and I have some time so here's my review. Yes, I know it is long!

My background:
I'm a car enthusiast. I want a track car, and I want an AWD ski/bike/mountain mobile, and I want a 'vert, and I want a luxo barge. I have room for 2 cars and my wife takes one of those slots. I could park any number of cars on the street at my house, but I'm not gonna do that. So I go back and forth between cars to try and find what ONE car will take care of me. My recent vehicles have been a significantly modded and tracked WRX and a lightly modded and tracked E90 M3. The WRX had good utility but those things are just an eyesore and they don't fit in the life of a professional. The M3 was fast. Oh boy is it fast when you keep it steaming between 6000-8400 RPMs. The comfort was excellent. But it had no utility and my recreational endeavors went from outdoor multi-sport to track driving only.

Before landing on the SQ5, I was set on a Macan S. I was ready to put an order in and everything but thought the $20k in options was a bit obnoxious and I should probably try out the SQ5. On paper I was very leery of a traditional auto tranny and how sporty could an SUV without adjustable suspension be? I test drove it and was hooked. Test drove it again to confirm, and ended up driving 400 miles round trip to pick up the one I wanted:

The Build:
SQ5 Premium Plus
Phantom Black
Black leather
MMI Nav
B&O audio
Carbon inlays
20" wheels

A Few Mods:
Formula 1 ceramic tint front windows to match rear
H&R DR spacers 20mm rear, 10mm front
OEM hitch installed by myself for Thule T2 bike rack
Pilot Super Sport tires in OEM size on OEM wheels
Hartmann HR8-GS:M 19x8.5" with Pirelli Scorpion Winter tires

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS
The bad stuff (a nit picky list):
-Nice engine sound (fake) when set to Dynamic but the exhaust wasn't much to write home about. Yes it had more character than a lot of cars with some burps and rumbles but it wasn't that exciting.
-Steering was not good, but it was adequate. Lots of wandering type feeling on the highway. The steering wheel is exceptional.
-The ride was a little jouncy (20" wheels) but not something I would actually complain about.
-MMI was a little weird that it always turns on audio every time you start her up unless you switch off the whole MMI system. That's just stupid.
-The car looks very nice, but it doesn't look special and the wheel offsets are just bad and wrong. It's no RS or ///M car. A sleeper is nice, but so is some character.
-B&O system needs more subwoofer for sure.
-Fuel economy. No further comment as this isn't something I like to bitch about when driving a performance car.
-It's a porker at 4400 lbs and you can feel this, although it's not nearly as bad as I thought it might be.

The good stuff:
-Interior looks and comfort are oh so good. There are just enough differences between the SQ5 and a Q5 S-line to make it special on the inside. Top notch from Audi as usual.
-Pride of ownership with the feel of maturity and respect that is expressed by this car. Definitely a vehicle for a working professional.
-High fun to drive factor. With ground clearance, stiff yet compliant suspension, a responsive transmission (for a TQ converter), and POWA!
-Torque and POWA! I don't need a 110+ mph 1/4 mile trap speed car, but having some oomph is definitely a requirement. The SQ5 delivers the goods.
-Utility! I throw my bike on the rear hitch rack and hit the trail regularly. I put a rooftop cargo carrier on the provided crossbars and go skiing whenever the weather is right. I chuck my beagle in the back, toss my wife in the front, and take them up in the mountains for hikes on a sunny day. 5 people fit with comfort when going out at night. I don't scrape the ground or have to worry about scraping. These are all very very good things.
-Rear wheel biased torque split AWD (40/60). You can actually feel this around corners and it is nice.
-Brakes are decent for a vehicle this fat and heavy.


6 MONTH IMPRESSIONS
Looks (exterior):
I added spacers, removed the BadYear tires in favor of Pilot Super Sports, tinted front windows to match rears, Xpel coated it, and honestly it's a pretty great looking vehicle now. I would like the Euro spec suspension but at the same time I like the added ground clearance so I won't be doing any lowering. The interior needed no work and was a beauty to begin with. I really dig the maturity and strength that the SQ5 displays. The looks have won me over now.

Interior:
The lovely seats are still exceedingly comfortable and will a little wipe up on the inside, she looks brand new. The stitching on the lateral seat bolsters have frayed a very tiny amount and the stitching at the steering wheel thumb grooves is a little gray now but no other wear issues. I have leather cleaned/conditioned once and will be due to do so again soon. Rattles have been minimal but they are there. The worst one is the instrument display clear plastic panel which buzzes on the highway at varying times. The other rattle that bothers me is with windows down, all unused seatbelts have a tendency to slap against hard plastic. This doesn't happen constantly, but when it does it is incredibly irritating. The pano-roof works well and is a nice feature.

Steering:
Still not great. I'm not sure why, but the wandering feeling has improved - perhaps I'm used to it - but it is still slightly there. The feedback is minimal. The weight is a little too light but not a big issue. The accuracy is quite good, but without much feedback it's hard to use that accuracy. The steering wheel is still very nice. Strange though, I feel like the steering wheel column is slightly off center to the right of the seating position. It's very subtle.

Suspension:
It's a winner to me. Yes, it is more stiff than your average SUV/CUV but it doesn't bother me, my wife, or any passengers I've had in the car. What this does do is allow you to swoop through corners, roller coaster over dips, deflect bumps and jagged road - all at speed with control and confidence in the car. There is understeer no doubt, but it is honestly less than I expected and you can still get a brief tail out experience around most corners if you try. There is a bit of squat with accelerating, dive with braking, and body roll can't be ignored, but with as much suspension travel as is present, I'm not surprised nor bothered by these things.

Transmission:
I drive my "autos" almost always in manual mode if paddle shifters are available and I'm a dual clutch believer. After owning the M3 M-DCT with truly exciting shift characteristics, going to a torque converter (TC) 8-speed was a tough pill to swallow. But it went down easy. The transmission is surely the most responsive TC unit I've ever experienced and does truly work better than some DCT/DSG units. It is NOT as good as the M-DCT or a PDK, but it is a substitute that is not frustrating at really any time. Single upshifts are instant. Multiple upshifts demanded at once take time. Downshifts rev just enough to make the shift not jerky, but I wouldn't call it true rev-matching. Multiple downshifts at once are more responsive than multiple upshifts. Auto and Sport (auto) modes work well for what they are intended to do and fuel economy is certainly better in Auto than with manual shifting. Now the bad Bad BAD part about the transmission. The auto upshift at about 6200 RPMs when the rev limiter is at 7200. If I want to hit true redline, my S model Audi should let me. Bad Audi. BAD!

Powertrain/Drivetrain/Exhaust:
I like RWD, especially with an LSD. It just doesn't fit my lifestyle living where traction is more often an issue than not. I also like high revving, naturally aspirated engines because they are very exciting but there aren't a lot of those out there. My SQ5 satisfies all my power/torque needs, sounds good while doing it, and puts the power to the ground while still retaining some small ability to slid the rear end out a bit from time to time. Power is linear and never feels like forced induction, with tastiest meat happening at 4k RPMs. Interestingly, the tune on this 3.0T seems to gain power all the way to the auto upshift at 6200 RPMs, which makes you want to press the upper RPMs. I will be very interested to see a dyno at some point to see if and where the power drops off, which happens in other 2.0T and 3.0T variations.

Traction is excellent in dry, wet, and snow. I fit Pilot Super Sports in OEM size to my 20" wheels and while some may argue overkill for the SQ5, I say why would you want any less than the best street performance tire released to this day? I can still break traction in turns if I want to but Quattro really does an excellent job keeping power in check and giving a little rotation as well. I'm not sure why the Sport-Diff option was not added to SQ5 but I would have ticked that box in a heartbeat if it was available. For winter I'm running 19" Pirelli Scorpion Winter and had no issues in snow and ice.

Brakes work well with good modulation when at speed but can be difficult to modulate at low speed. Braking power is adequate but wow can you feel the weight of this car when trying to get down from 100mph quickly. Brake dust on OEM pads is a serious issue and I will be happy to go aftermarket when my pads wear out some day. It only takes a couple of days for a moderate amount of brake dust to be on the wheels and after a week it's obnoxious to me.

I always liked the engine sound even if it has some degree of phony-ness to it and now I feel like my exhaust is making more noise than it used it. With valves open at WOT, it pops/cracks/burps on 1-2 and 2-3 upshifts. It has a raspy yet gutteral blare that is quiet but aggressive when accelerating with the windows down. For as polite as Audi has made this exhaust, they did give it plenty of character. I'm on the fence whether or not I would go aftermarket but for now, anticipating a $2500+ price tag, I would have a hard time shelling out for something different.

Tech:
Good audio is important to me. I was hoping for more from the B&O system but it is at least good enough. At first I had the EQ set to increase treble and bass, but really keeping the EQ at zero yields the best sound. The subwoofer is very subdued and/or underpowered and is clearly the weak link. Overall though the audio is better than most people are probably used to and the cost to upgrade the lack of sub bass is not worth it to me.

The nav system with voice command control works very well but the screen is not large enough for all the info they cram onto it when using directions. It can be a very confusing display until you are used to what it is trying to show you. I still struggle with this. Audi 3G wi-fi works but I never really use it as I have a 4G/LTE iPhone. Audi Connect Online Services works very well and is much more useful than I thought, but as my trial period is expiring there is no way I'm going to spend $30/month on something I use once a month. Bleh that is such a rip-off! Also, I think sat radio is crap quality so that one is out the window too. Traffic on the map display works well and is always useful. This one I will extend service if I still have the car after the 4 year period.

Bluetooth connectivity is quite good with streaming audio that is all I really use when listening to music. I don't need to plug in my iPhone 5S so I don't have experience with USB or other connections. Phone calls are run via a slick system that works well but call quality is not good on the receiving end. I can hear people well, but at times they say I sound like I'm in a distant tunnel or a crowd. That's a little disappointing but only once have I had to switch and put the phone to my ear because someone couldn't hear me.

Auto climate control, A/C, and seat heaters work well - no surprises or concerns. No heated steering wheel which is a little annoying as a car at this price tag in 2014 should have it.

Auto-on headlights work great although I do miss corner swiveling headlights (on Prestige cars?). The daytime running LEDs and rear lamp LEDs are just pure neon sex and no other manufacturer has bested Audi in this regard IMO. Interior lighting is fine and puddle lights work well.

Audi Advanced Key works well and is nice to have. No further comment about that. The warning tone when the door is open and the fact that the car will turn on the electronic parking brake if you roll with the door open is really obnoxious. The rear camera works fine but I think these are always silly and useless. Parking sensors are great. The auto windshield wipers are pretty disappointing to me. They worked great in my BMW but these... not so much. They do work, but they are not as smart as other systems I've used.

OVERALL
I really enjoy my SQ5 for it's comfort, utility, speed, handling, noises, fun to drive factor, and having it do all this while being a very mature and respectable vehicle. I severely missed my M3 for a while but the sting is fading and I'm very happy with the direction I went. There is nothing else on the market like the SQ5 right now but even if there was another option, the SQ5 would give it very stiff competition.


Some photos in my intro thread: http://forums.audiworld.com/showthread.php?t=2857934
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Old 05-24-2014, 08:01 PM   #2
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Nice write up.
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Old 05-25-2014, 10:38 AM   #3
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I've had mine for less than a month, and agree with most of your observations. However, there are a few issues that I wonder: "Is it the vehicle or is it the dealership?"

First, I have noticed a lot of negative camber in the rear. The dealership tells me that it's normal, but it looks bad. The rear camber is so negative, that the top of the tire is 1.1 inches further in than the bottom. This may look fine on a teenager's lowered Honda, but not so much on a $60K Audi. Can anyone out there confirm that this is normal?

Second, my driver-side puddle light stopped working. It worked fine for the first week, that is how I noticed they were even there. It stopped working, but the passenger side was still working fine. I told the dealership about it when I took it in for its first service and they told me that my vehicle wasn't equipped with it. They then disabled the passenger side. WTF??? Did I get a bad dealer?

I already know I got screwed on the paint protection. I was sold full hood, front fenders, and the area under the rear deck opening. After paying their exuberant price, all I got was 20-inches of the hood and nothing under the rear door.

My main question from this post is, does your stock-suspension SQ5 have noticeable negative camber in the rear? I might believe what my dealership is telling me if their solution to the puddle light was more respectable. This is my first Audi...love the SQ5, but I guess I was hoping for too much from an Audi dealership.

Last edited by SQive; 05-25-2014 at 10:01 PM.
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Old 05-25-2014, 02:11 PM   #4
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The only time I see negative camber like that is when I carry a lot of weight.

My puddle lights seem to work fine.

Please let us know who your dealer is so we can avoid them. Would not want them touching my SQ5!
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Old 05-25-2014, 02:48 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shark115 View Post
Please let us know who your dealer is so we can avoid them. Would not want them touching my SQ5!
I want to give them a chance to rectify the situation first. I've replied to the owner's "Welcome and Congrats" email to get some clarification. I also want to get my facts straight about the camber situation.

Believe me...for the price, if they don't satisfy (or at least pacify) me, I'll let 'em have it! Beside's, this is our only venue to share good and bad experiences, both with the vehicles and the dealerships.
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Old 05-25-2014, 03:27 PM   #6
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"toss my wife in the front..." My wife would punch me out if I tried that trick. And she's strong and powerful enough (African American woman who works out with long arms and big biceps) to do it.
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Old 05-25-2014, 08:21 PM   #7
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Spot on.... I still think that you are crazy to dump the M3 for this but I understand it given your lifestyle.

I convinced the wife to get a SQ5 and there will be a M4 for me to compliment the Audi in our garage. I think it will be a good balance.

Unlike many people, I really like the steering of the SQ and for a crossover its performance is superb.

Not sure what we are going to do about the tires yet but so far not planning on driving it n bad weather. I might reach out to you for wheel / tire recommendations.

I honestly think this is the perfect vehicle for PNW!
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Old 05-26-2014, 12:37 AM   #8
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Did you get the 21"s? I thought I would be getting the Dunlops, but mine came with the Pirelli P-Zeros. The handling is excellent, but my next set will be the Continental UHP 265/40R21. I know that will slightly downgrade handling with the taller tire and harder compound, but inversely, I'll have a softer ride and greater mileage. All of the Conti's have great reviews.

BTW...PNW?
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Old 05-26-2014, 12:28 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SQive View Post
Did you get the 21"s? I thought I would be getting the Dunlops, but mine came with the Pirelli P-Zeros. The handling is excellent, but my next set will be the Continental UHP 265/40R21. I know that will slightly downgrade handling with the taller tire and harder compound, but inversely, I'll have a softer ride and greater mileage. All of the Conti's have great reviews.

BTW...PNW?
We got the 20s due to more tire options and the fact that roads just suck around Seattle.

Pacific North West. PNW.
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Old 05-26-2014, 04:39 PM   #10
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Quote:
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Unlike many people, I really like the steering of the SQ and for a crossover its performance is superb.
You know, I do agree that the steering is good for this type of vehicle. Two things about the steering that I wish were better:

1) The wandering feeling on highway cruising. Not sure if it's the tires/surface causing tramlining, or if it is truly the steering itself. I've become used to it for the most part now.

2) The wheel will not wind back to center on its own. For example, take a sharp right turn, get on the gas, relax steering inputs, and normally you can let the wheel wind back to center with maybe just a little driver input. Maybe I just became used to RWD, but I thought my WRX did this well also. With the SQ5 it seems you have to steer it back purposefully.


So have you ordered your M4 yet? Color? Delivery date? I'm pretty smitten with the E9x, but I have to admit the F8x has grown on me after seeing some of the recent track videos.
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Old 05-26-2014, 06:39 PM   #11
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You say the car's wandering has improved with time -- is it possible swapping the Michelins for the Pirellis did this? You might also consider a professional alignment if you haven't done so. I would go to a place like group 2 rather than to the dealer for this type of service. OTOH, if you're tracking the car, you've probably invested in an alignment.
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Old 05-27-2014, 12:35 AM   #12
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Default Good Job

Good job of reviewing your SQ5 after 6 mos. I never was even aware of the concept of steering feedback until I got a 325i. Actually there was much I didn't know until I owned that car but that's a different forum...I like...and dislike the steering in my SQ5. It is very smooth and responsive, but ad you know, feedback is non existent. I'm not so sure that matters so much on this car though, since I'm getting into the "golden years" and not hanging onto the road with just the front tires so much anymore and actually, the quatro IS something I actually feel when I get the urge to check the hold of these Pirelli P-Zeros. So I consider it a kind of
good trade off.
The only mod I'm really considering is the addition of a small subwoofer. I think that would really open that stereo up....Which, btw, is one of the best factory stereos I've ever heard.
Thanks again for the grest review andbest of luck with your SQ5

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Old 05-27-2014, 05:28 AM   #13
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Quote:
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You say the car's wandering has improved with time -- is it possible swapping the Michelins for the Pirellis did this? You might also consider a professional alignment if you haven't done so. I would go to a place like group 2 rather than to the dealer for this type of service. OTOH, if you're tracking the car, you've probably invested in an alignment.
I have thought maybe the tires caused the improvement but I have also read so much about B8 S4 doing the same thing. I have considered an alignment but it was an issue present since day one and I would hope it wouldn't need an alignment off the showroom floor. BTW, no tracking for this one - it's just too big and heavy.
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Old 05-27-2014, 08:55 AM   #14
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Excellent write-up and discussion. My goal/objective in getting the SQ5 was virtually identical to yours. I suspect we are the target market for this car. I also agree with your assessment and I really do hate when people on the other line say that I am hard to hear! One would think that Audi would have BT phone technology nailed by now.

One counter to your point re: windshield wipers - this is the first car I have had in a while where I was able to turn the rain sensors on and off. I sorely missed the true intermittent wipers in some of my other cars (F10 5-series, 997.2, 958) and welcome the ability to ditch the rain sensors.

Re: RPMs - I do wish that it revved a little higher - seems that as soon as we get some good pull going, the car shifts.

I added a small, thin powered sub to the car (it resides in the lower trunk compartment) and it makes a world of difference for not a lot of money. I figured that the B&O system wouldn't be as good as those in the A6/A7 (or my F10 5-series) as the upgrade cost wasn't as pricey as in the other models. However, it would have cost them very little extra to put in a bit more punch in that subwoofer.
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Old 05-27-2014, 10:13 AM   #15
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Default subwoofer improvement in q5

I see a few of you have the same concerns as I did with the B&O. I love the sound of B&O system, and think it's a decent value relative to many Audi options, but it was def too thin sounding. It needs some power at the low/mid end to fill in the wonderful clarity and soundstage it provides.

I'm very happy with the setup I added. You can see it on this thread if interested...

http://forums.audiworld.com/showthread.php?t=2865431
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Old 05-27-2014, 10:20 AM   #16
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I have thought maybe the tires caused the improvement but I have also read so much about B8 S4 doing the same thing. I have considered an alignment but it was an issue present since day one and I would hope it wouldn't need an alignment off the showroom floor. BTW, no tracking for this one - it's just too big and heavy.
I think an alignment could really help. A little more toe in, maybe.
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Old 05-27-2014, 10:43 AM   #17
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great writeup!

i noticed the loose wandering feeling when driving on the freeway also. i changed my steering to Dynamic, which helped a little.
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Old 05-27-2014, 10:55 AM   #18
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For the steering feel, disable the DSR, it helps a lot.
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Old 05-27-2014, 12:25 PM   #19
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Quote:
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For the steering feel, disable the DSR, it helps a lot.
That's on my list for sure. I don't have VAGCOM nor a laptop so I'm still sorting out where to get some access.
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Old 05-27-2014, 10:58 PM   #20
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Okay...what is DSR?
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Old 05-27-2014, 10:58 PM
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