Audi fans around the world have been anticipating the combination of Q5 comfort and convenience and RS-class performance for nearly a decade. The SQ5 only further whetted their appetites. Finally, 2019 looks like the year when an RS Q5 could be available. The anticipated Audi RS Q5 will enter a niche in the crossover SUV market to where Audi will be hard to beat. Drivers who enjoy the performance of their RS-class sedan while commuting to work will have access to a family and utility vehicle that feels quite familiar to drive.
There's already a performance-oriented SQ5. Why take the Q5 to extremes?
Competition, both in the market and on the road. Mercedes, BMW, and other high-end brands are responding to demand for SUVs which satisfy their customers with performance sedans. Buyers have shown an appetite for finely-tuned high-performance crossover SUVs, and the race is on to build vehicles in this class which are even more amazing to drive. The SQ5 may have gotten some customers interested, and they are clearly asking for more.
Is this upgrade something Audi's been doing with other models?
Yes, they have experience implementing the RS5 drivetrain in other vehicles now. It requires some care to handle the engineering requirements of this powerful engine. An automatic transmission is a must, the oil cooler needs to be designed in to support the engine's heat levels, and the turbo support has to be very accommodating, to name a few challenges. For car buffs who love the details and may even do their own auto work, the RS5 upgrade is a fascinating set of performance modifications delivered in a stock vehicle.
What are the RS5 engine's numbers?
It's a 2.9-liter turbocharged V-6 generating 447 hp. Compare that to the SQ5's 3.0-liter with 354 hp. With a carefully tuned automatic transmission, it provides a smooth but rather responsive ride, and can definitely push everyone back into their seats when desired. A number of Porsche vehicles share this engine with Audi models.
How will the RS Q5 likely be restyled for its new role?
It will likely follow Audi's previous restyling for similar RS projects. That includes a bit of flare added to the wheel wells where larger diameter alloy wheels will reside with low-profile tires. The RS Q5 should be stabilized by a bit wider track, and the bumpers will likely be updated for styling and to support higher volume air intakes in the front and a robust dual exhaust output.
How would the interior change?
In addition to an upgraded carbon look on the dash, expect track-inspired driving amenities such as bolstered seats and a racing-style steering wheel for spirited driving. These are typical Audi RS upgrades, reflecting not only style but a necessity as this is a performance vehicle. Expect an instrument cluster and tech which are up to date with Audi's latest such as the Virtual Cockpit display, probably with some performance-related indicators. Updated Audi MMI infotainment equipment will provide driving tunes, data, and directions.
Will Audi tune the transmission and suspension for racing or country driving?
Both, of course, with an eye towards a bit more stiffness in the suspension and more control over body roll -- it needs to be ready to respond safely and enthusiastically when the driver puts the RS Q5 through its paces. The automatic transmission would normally be tuned for responsive driving, but it will also have a more relaxed mode with longer shifts to be prepared for graceful chauffeuring.
Will there be anything special about the all wheel drive?
RS5 design observations point to yes. Not only will there be a performance-oriented AWD system, but options will likely include a split rear differential to distribute torque and improve handling even further.
What models will the RS Q5 be competing with?
The RS Q5, with an engine also used in some Porsche models, will be comparable to the Porsche Macan Turbo, Mercedes-AMG GLC63, BMW X3 M, and Jaguar F-Pace SVR as each one hits the market. It should be an exciting time for high-end crossover SUV buyers to decide which of these models is for them. But now that the RS Q5 appears to be on the horizon, there is talk of an SQ8 or RS Q8 in the future.