Just because you start a family doesn’t mean you must resort to a pedestrian minivan. Just look at what Tim Tranquill did with his 2014 Audi SQ5. The B8 SQ5 is a handsome SUV to start, but with a modest drop, wheels to fill the arches, and the right touches, it goes to supercharged and sophisticated.
When Tim Tranquill needed to expand from his previous car, he knew he had to get something larger, practical, and worthy of his time. However, he didn’t want to go with a minivan or American SUV. “With my previous two cars being domestic,” he told us, “I knew I wanted something European. I was really in love with the Volvo V60 Polestar. Wagons have become unique and rare while still practical.” The Polestar, it turned out, didn’t work well with him, “I went for a test drive in the Polestar, and I hated it. The curved windshield on the driver and passenger edges made me dizzy. There was a lot of road and wind noise—to the point where I had to shout for the salesman to hear me.”
That’s when he went for an Audi, but not just any Audi would do. He first tried to go with the Allroad but, “the Allroad was missing some speed and sound. I really didn’t want to end up with another quiet four-cylinder. Since I couldn’t get a bigger engine in the Allroad, I decided to look at three other cars: The BMW 435 Grand Coupe, Mercedes C450 AMG, and the Audi S4.” The BMW was too boring, the Mercedes wasn’t up to his wife’s standards along with the S4. “She hated everything about it,” he said, “The color was too purple, the seats were uncomfortable, and the cup holders were stupid. I laughed so much when she was telling me this."
However, there was another Audi available at the dealer he was searching. It was a 2014 SQ5, essentially the S4 in SUV form. He didn’t want to get an SUV but, “She loved it. The seats were very comfortable, the cup holders were better, the backseat entrance was good, and it had a good amount of space in the cargo area. I took her for a test drive in it, and she knew I liked it.”
He went on the search for a used version and ended up finding one, of all places, at a Ford dealership. “Just down the street from my dentist was a Ford dealer, and the new Edge Sport had just hit the dealerships. I was already sold on the SQ5, but I just wanted to take a peek at the Edge. Right when I pulled into the dealership, there it was. A 2014 Glacier White Metallic Audi SQ5 with all the options I wanted, and it was discounted. It felt like a sign.” He called his wife, and she approved. Once she approves, you buy it with no further questioning.
If there is something you should know about Tim, it's is that he’s not much on total conformity. Rather than blacking out his trim pieces or even deleting them, he custom painted them. The ride height was then dropped by two-inches to give the SUV a proper, sporty character.
Not much has been changed in the interior. Tim hasn’t seen the need for anything drastic yet, but it will probably come. “The original plan was that there was no plan,” he laughed, “I was going to keep it stock, and that went out the window real fast.”
Of course, that changed the moment he started seeing more B8 platforms that were modified. “They changed when I started watching more and more YouTube videos about the B8 platform and how easy it was to get more out of it,” said Tim. All of the enjoyment Tim gets from owning this SQ5 comes from driving it. “This is my daily driver and not a show car. I drive it all the time, and I definitely don’t baby it while driving it.”
We definitely noticed that when Tim left our photo shoot and headed onto the freeway. The SQ5's exhaust note sounded amazing as he floored it, accelerating to match the speed of the other cars on the freeway.
What really set off his modifying streak was dropping it using a set of H&R coilovers and these Vorsteiner VFF-103 wheels. Of course, being an SUV means he can get away with larger wheels and taller sidewall tires. The sizes are 21x9.0 +35 front and 21x10.5 +15 rear with Pirelli PZero tires in 255/40R21 and P295/35R21.
The stickier rubber also allows for more aggressive brakes, Tim added REVO by Alcon six-piston monoblock calipers in the front with 380x32 rotors. The Ferodo DS Performance front pad and rear Stoptech Sport pad will stop this SQ5 with as much authority as those Pirelli tires will allow.
Much of the trim is painted in body-matched Glacier White Metallic, including the front grill surround. Even the roof rails are painted in a Glacier White, but Tim used Plasti-Dip to do it. The rest of the grill and Audi rings are also custom painted, as mentioned earlier, but in silver rather than the typical black. It makes for a much classier, yet different, look.
The 3.0-liter Audi engine is enhanced past stock, but still mild enough for a great daily-driving feel. An EPL Stage 2 pulley under-drives the supercharger to get more boost out of it while the AWE ColdFront heat exchanger reduces boost air temperatures for better power and higher air density.
Engine performance is further enhanced by a CTS cold-air intake, EPS Stage 2 tune, EPL transmission tune, and a Pedal Commander throttle-pedal signal modifier to make it more accurately respond to the driver's inputs.
The exhaust is a full AWE Touring Exhaust Kit with non-resonated downpipes, giving the SQ5 a much more aggressive sound out of those diamond black tips. In all, this engine makes about 450-horsepower and 400-ft-lbs of torque after all of Tim's modifications.
When we asked him what he felt really set this SUV off, what parts that were changed that he was most proud of and Tim couldn’t pick just one. “I think it’s the entire package,” he said after a think, “Some of the changes I’ve done are subtle, and some are very loud. It reflects my personality a little bit: I’m pretty quiet and reserved, but sometimes I can be the crazy person in the room.”
Even so, it’s not just about the SQ5 for Tim. As we mentioned, his family is expanding but in more ways than just blood. “I’ve lived in San Diego for nine years now,” he said, “and I’ve always struggled to meet friends down here. Until I bought my SQ5 and joined the San Diego Audi Club, I had never met a nicer and respectful group of people in my life.” It’s also more than just the SUV, too. “The Audi culture is very different from most other car enthusiast cultures. We are all willing to help each other out when times get tough, congratulate members for their successes, and every person is unique in their own way, just like their builds.”
“The new Audi RS6 commercial accurately conveys the passion and camaraderie this brand ensues,” Tim explained to us before we left him, “It’s a family, and I’m grateful to be a part of it.” From growing a family with his wife to growing one in his own back yard, Tim’s 2014 SQ5 has certainly helped him make those expansions. SUVs get a lot of flak for being big and boisterous vehicles. These vehicles allow people like Tim to become better. He has new friends that he hangs out with at local cars and coffee events, take drives to hiking places, or even talk to fellow enthusiasts on the phone while still being able to haul himself, his wife, and more.
What other vehicle would allow Tim to do that and enjoy it in a sporting nature? A wagon, sure, but even it has its limits. The SQ5 doesn’t have as many bounds as an Allroad does and, let’s face it. It’s better than the typical minivan by any stretch of the imagination.
Story by Justin Banner
Photos by Antonio Alvendia
If you enjoyed this Audi SQ5, you can find additional Audi-related content at audi.fcpeuro.com, as well as more build features like this one, here. If there's anything specific you would like to see, or if you have any questions/comments, leave them in the comments section below.
Antonio Alvendia is an aficionado of cameras, rare wheels, hip hop, and obscure aftermarket car accessories. He bought his first E39 Touring after seeing M5 Estates on photo trips to Europe, and now has sights set on restoring a classic Mercedes. Antonio was a principal photographer on the limited edition hardcover book on Singer Vehicle Design's Porsche 911 builds, entitled One More Than Ten. Future goals include returning to the Nurburgring to shoot the N24 race and driving the Nordschleife again. ••• Instagram : @MOTORMAVENS