The 2014 Audi SQ5. Image courtesy of Audi.

Audi debuts the first gasoline-powered SQ5 at NAIAS

Conceived primarily for sale in the US, Canada and China, Audi will reveal its first-ever gasoline powered SQ5 next week at NAIAS – supercharged, all-wheel drive and developing 354 horsepower while still getting 21-mpg combined.

The subcompact SUV features a radical new 3.0 TFSI engine with forced induction and an innovative supercharger that realizes zero to 62 mph (in European form) in 5.3 seconds and climbs to a top speed of 155 mph, which is probably limited to a severe degree.

Then again, how often do you get the chance to drive 160 mph – or want to, for that matter?

As the first gasoline variant of the Q5 subcompact SUV for the North American market, the SQ5 utilizes the Audi Modular Longitudinal Platform, which will also provide the foundation for the Porsche Macan, due for release during the second quarter of 2013.

It gets its considerable power from a supercharged, 2,995 cc V6 engine. The supercharger’s compressor is belt-driven by the crankshaft, occupying the 90-degree nook of the cylinder banks. The supercharger’s rotors spin at speeds over 20,000 rpm, with an air gap just a few thousandths of a millimeter. Compressing intake air up to 0.8 bars, two intercoolers then chill the pressurized air to enhance the engine’s power.

The compressor, downstream from the throttle valve, requires little power, as air density at intake is very low for loads below supercharging level or when coasting. The engine develops torque very early thanks to the short path gas takes to the supercharger. Compressor noise is dampened and a balance shaft in the alloy crankcase creates increased smoothness. Intake shafts and flaps are variable and the intake ports produce efficient charging of combustion chambers.

The 3.0 TFSI engine cranks out its 354 hp between 6,000 and 6,500 rpm, while producing 346.65 lb-ft of torque from 4,000 and 4,500 rpm. At the same time it virtually sips gasoline to the tune of 21-mpg combined. Add to that respectable CO2 emissions of 320.26 grams per mile.

The eight-speed tiptronic with quattro full time all-wheel drive uses torque vectoring to effectively anchor the SQ5 to the road. The phenomenal automatic transmission allows two driving modes, with a sports setting enabling manual shifting via the paddles behind the wheel.

The chassis is 1.18 inch lower, with tautly tuned springs and shocks to provide sporty, invigorating and balanced performance. The 20-inch wheels come standard, while 21-inch wheels are optional.

The SQ5 badge distinguishes the front brake calipers and Audi also offers optional dynamic steering with a seamlessly variable ratio. The electromechanical steering adds to the efficiency of the SQ5 and provides a very precise road feel. It is controlled by the optional Audi drive select system that provides several modes in various systems, altering the driving experience to the style or mood or the driver and even the ambient conditions.

Distinctive V6 T badges adorn the front fenders, bracketing the platinum radiator grille and aluminum finish horizontal bars, complimented by the stylish bumpers and roof spoiler. Aluminum look exterior mirrors adorn the windows along with one of two exclusive crystal-effect finishes: Estoril Blue or Panther Black.

The gauge cluster sports gray dials and white numerals, while the pedals and shifter paddles wear a polished aluminum finish. Bathed in black, the interior has optional headlining in Moon Silver. Power-adjustable sport seats are decked out in a combination of Pearl Nappa leather and Alcantara, with four choices of color to choose from. Inlays are brushed aluminum, with optional treatments including Carbon Atlas, Piano finish or layered aluminum with wood in Beaufort black.

This exquisite subcompact SUV will arrive in US dealerships during the third quarter of 2013, with an extensive list of standard equipment. The Audi SQ5 will feature xenon plus headlights, LED daytime running lights, a stainless steel deck guard and a driver data system with color display.

The cargo area provides as much as 59.33 cu ft of storage capacity.

Of course, the SQ5 comes with a plethora of optional assistance and infotainment features, navigation and Bluetooth online Internet services from Audi connect.

The Audi SQ5 is intended for sale in the United States, Canada, Russia, China, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, South Africa, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and the Ukraine.

In Germany and other European markets, the SQ5 TDI has been the top sports SUV in the series since its inception in 2008.

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