More power for the Audi Q5? It makes sense. BMW's X3 makes up to 300 hp, and the Infiniti EX35 is just behind with 297 hp. By contrast, the top-spec Audi Q5 3.2 FSI makes 270 hp, and its V-6 isn’t really among those powerplants we’d call flexible and sporty. If Audi wants to be regarded as the "sportiest premium brand"—a goal we've often heard mentioned in Ingolstadt—installing its more charismatic and powerful engines into a wider range of products is essential.
It's no surprise then that Audi isn't leaving the Q5 alone, and our spy photographers have snapped what appears to be a test mule for an upcoming high-performance version that might be called Q5 S or SQ5. Power will come from the company's 3.0-liter "T" engine, a V-6 force-fed by an Eaton TVS Roots-type supercharger nestled between the cylinder banks. This engine is found across the Audi lineup—including in the latest A6—and it also is used as the internal-combustion portion of a hybrid system installed under the hoods of the VW Touareg and Porsche Cayenne and Panamera.
It seems that the supercharger has a bright future at Audi after all. Two years ago, we were told the 3.0T would be Audi's only supercharged engine, and that its successor would be turbocharged. But now the signals are mixed and it seems that Audi might keep the Roots blower after all. That's good news for enthusiasts, as the supercharger delivers low-end response that even the smallest turbo can't match. Audi has gone to great lengths to eliminate the blower’s characteristic whine, so those who like to drive in peace and quiet won't have reason to object either.
The SQ5’s version of this engine is likely to put out at least 330 hp and be coupled to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. The exterior will be distinguished by add-ons similar to those in the S line package—which the test mule pictured here doesn't have. There also will be larger brakes and the characteristic S-model four-tip exhaust. And there's another possibility: The SQ5 might be offered with a 310-hp, 3.0-liter V-6 diesel as an alternative to the gasoline-powered SQ5. This model's engine would be shared with upcoming diesel versions of the Audi S6 and S7.
The sharp handling of the regular Q5—the 3.2 FSI model placed first in a comparison test—would seem to bode well for the SQ5’s dynamics. Unless BMW brings an M version of the X3 to market, the Audi SQ5 would be another nice step in achieving Audi’s “sportiest brand” aspirations.
Thanks to: Car and Driver