The Audi SQ5 Should Have Been A Diesel

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
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the audi sq5 should have been a diesel

A mix of good and bad news for fans of European forbidden fruit – the Audi SQ5 will be coming to our shores, but with the familiar 3.0T V6 rather than the Euro-spec TDI powertrain initially shown earlier this year. And I think that’s a big mistake.

I know what you’re all thinking. Derek Kreindler must have gotten into the last of the now curdled egg nog, because there’s no way that TTAC’s resident TDI-troll would ever write anything in support of a diesel car.

Go ahead, look outside your window – the sky is intact and there aren’t any airborne swine flying around either. The truth is, I don’t have any particular disdain for diesels. Much like wagons, my opposition to them – in certain cases – is rooted in the economic realities of the car market, and I refuse to pander to the peanut gallery like other outlets do by writing fallacious 800-word appeals to tradition about why we need these kinds of cars, lest Brand X withers and dies because consumers, god forbid, buy cars they actually want.

But there are exceptions, and the SQ5 is an obvious one. For starters, the North American-spec car is basically redundant What separates this car from a Q5 3.0T S-Line, aside from some extra ponies and a badge on the tailgate? It is a massively cynical exercise in marketing and profiteering, since Audi knows that the S-cars, like AMG and M-Cars of the recent era, have now become just another trim level for affluent customers, rather than a separate line of serious performance cars. How else to explain the popularity of the S4 and S5 in wake of the death of the 3.2 powered cars? Sure, the looks and performance play a part, but you can’t tell me that there isn’t a significant demographic out there that bought them because they couldn’t be seen driving the prole-spec 2.0T model.

Unlike the S4 and S5, nobody buying the SQ5 will really be overly concerned with how the car performs, just how expensive it looks and whether they can one up their fellow yoga practitioners or their peers at the International Student Lounge. These same people are generally fond of two other things – telling everybody how much they spent on something, and appearing to care about “green” causes and products. Which is why the ultra-expensive, limited edition TDI version would have made so much sense.

Audi is set to launch four new TDI models, including a Q5, over the next few years, and what better way to kick things off than with a halo model like the SQ5? It would have been so easy to stuff a tuned up 3.0 TDI motor into a North American SQ5 and do a limited run, enjoying the double-whammy of positive press from the diesel-mad buff books and the celebrity set that has now adopted Audi as the cool luxury car of choice. Unlike, say, importing the RS4 Avant, the regulatory and logistical hurdles would have been minimal, since the Q5 TDI is already coming here anyways, while the PR angle could have been spun in any number of ways to make Audi look both exciting and socially responsible. Kind of like Tesla. Doing this in a sedan or a coupe would have been a cool but very risky move. But an alternative powertrain in a crossover would have been risk free; the real eccentric car dorks would have bought it because of its oddball powertrain, while henpecked husbands could easily unload it on their status-conscious spouses, passing it off as the most expensive Q5 that just happens to be more eco-friendly than all the others.

Derek Kreindler
Derek Kreindler

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  • Kmarnes Kmarnes on Mar 14, 2016

    Wow, this thread has been a real troll fest. I'm on the waiting list for the new 2017 SQ5 in Canada. I want the virtual cockpit and willing to wait. I come from a BMW background, having owned a couple in the past, and was totally set on getting a new BMW last year, after not having owned one for about 6 years. I test drove a few BMWs and found them rather lifeless and anemic and wasn't impressed with the aesthetics. I test drove a 328i/335i/435i GC, which I think is are great overall cars... good balance of power and cost. The M cars are just too powerful and too expensive, and incredibly expensive to maintain. So that's where my thoughts were. Someone mentioned premium pricing for different models, and the 435i is another example of that. The cars are basically identical except for the hatchback, but the 435i has options that cost more than they do in the 335i. I have never owned an Audi before, but I test drove an S4 and completely fell in love with how it drove, even though it had dated aesthetics, even more so than BMWs. But then they announced the whole new line with the virtual cockpit, and immediately knew that was the car for me. But I'm in my early 40s, have a small family, quite tall and like a higher ride and more cargo. When I learned of the SQ5, I actually had to wait a few months before I could even test drive one, because they basically don't exist very long on the market in Vancouver BC, where I live. In fact, while I was test driving it, someone at the dealer was buying it already. But it was a gorgeous car, and had the perfect blend of luxury and performance for my tastes and budget... but definitely chose to wait for the new ones, which haven't even been officially announced yet. Now I have done extensive research and price comparisons, and have found Audi to be superior to BMW and Mercedes when you compare a well-equipped car. Audi's tend to start off a slightly higher than the others, but come better equipped and have cheaper options, so the end price is favorable. I remember doing this with a 335i ($70k) vs an S4 ($64k). A well-equipped SQ5 is $70k in Canada. I also compared the SQ5 to a similarly equipped Q5 3.0 and it is $7000 more. With that you get bigger wheels, bigger brakes, upgraded suspension, better seats, some exterior and interior differences, and of course a more aggressive ECU tune. The engines are actually identical, but messing with tuning voids a good chunk of your warranty. So yeah, 7K is a premium, when when you are facing $63k vs $70k, we're only talking about an 11% premium, one I'm happy to pay. I see a lot of value in that extra $7k spent. It's not just a badge upgrade. The SQ5 engine puts a real fast smile on my face. It's a daily driver that isn't too ridiculous. Also nothing really beats Quattro for 4 wheel drive. The BMWs aren't as strong there. And I live in a climate where 4 wheel drive is a benefit. I've also noticed that here in Vancouver, there is a total glut of BMW and Mercedes due to cheaper leases. That hurts resale. So if you want to lease new or buy used, getting BMW or Mercedes could be a better bet. Audi seems to only be best if you are purchasing and not leasing and actually owning your car. The SQ5's in particular are quite rare and very difficult to find for sale used, and when they do pop up, they hold impressive resale value. Back to the original purpose of this thread. There does seem to be a chance for a diesel in this next iteration. Given specific news of the SQ7 TDI possibly coming to North America. Now I would love to have a diesel option -- better torque and durability and cheaper gas with better mileage. Seems to improve resale as well.

  • Kmarnes Kmarnes on Mar 14, 2016

    I'll also add, that in Vancouver, Diesel is actually cheaper than regular gas, and these things need premium. Diesel = $0.96/L, Regular = $1.06/L, Premium = $1.16/L. So Diesels in Canada make way more sense. Just too bad they are so hard to find.

  • MaintenanceCosts So there is no Sonata trim without some type of Theta engine.It seems like they've been doing a bit better when attached to a hybrid system, so that's probably the one to get, but they're going to have to go several years without further engine troubles before I'd trust a H/K ICE product again.
  • Lou_BC Full sized sort of autonomous RC's. Cute.
  • Art_Vandelay Autonomous capabilities are being deployed (or planned anyway) in multiple combat vehicles. Should be fun from my perspective
  • Drew8MR Interior is trivial now you can get repro everything in various levels of quality. Getting the top sorted will be a couple grand, but I'd drive it as it. I drove a $1500 67 GTO convertible for 20 years, not every old car needs to be like new.
  • John Not everyone pays that much for power. Mine is 10 cents per kw…..