words: Talia Pakkala, photos: 034Motorsport
Editor’s Note: This article originally ran in the Q1_2023 issue of quattro Magazine. If you would like to subscribe to quattro Magazine, please join Audi Club here.
Toretto tells you that you owe him a 10-second car; what are you bringing him? In 2001, no one would have suggested a SUV. Had you had asked 6-months ago, I still wouldn’t have suggested an Audi SUV. But today, you could safely tout an SQ5 (B9) fresh with some key upgrades over to the shop to clear your debt.
Holding the record of first B9 SQ5 to hit a 10 second ¼ mile, 034Motorsport is a renowned aftermarket performance manufacturer stationed in Fremont, CA. And though they have numerous development cars at their disposal, we’re most interested in learning about the unsuspecting sportscar killer that is Nick Mercadante’s SQ5.
Nick started with 034 (pronounced zero three four) in June 2018. He is now their Marketing Manager and is continuing to grow his Audi-biography list day-by-day. What began as taking on a family 8P 2.0 DSG A3, quickly evolved into ownership of a B3, which was traded for an ur S6 Avant to now the SQ5, with plenty more in-between. His possession of the B3 is how he came to know of and officially work for 034. Thanks to Project 80TQ, Nick was soon acclimated to the brand and all the performance modifications they had to offer not only with respect to the elder B3, but also a myriad of other Audis in Nick’s future garage. (editor’s note: If you don’t know about 034Motorsport’s founder Javad Shadzi and his project that started it all, check Javad’s his own podcast recording on our Unfair Advantage series Part 1 Part 2.)
While we all hope to be as lucky as the MLB platform in terms of availability of modifications, Nick and Javad noticed a clear gap in the market with respect to the SQ5. With a nickname like the “backpack S4,” the space was lacking for performance hardware that would give it that backpack boost. To fix this, in 2020, the build officially began on Nick’s SQ5 starting with hardware. Today, not only can you shop their site for over 47 SKUs, but with those you can find yourself at a cool 600 all-wheel-horsepower and torque.
Currently Project SQ5 has stage 3 software with a TTE710 hybrid turbo, an X34 carbon intake and turbo inlet, HPFP, resonator delete and catted downpipe, intercooler, air-ride drop links, front and rear sway bars, 21×10 forged wheels wrapped in 295 Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires, drivetrain inserts and upgraded engine mounts. All this alongside stock internals and a full weight stock interior puts this spicy SUV at nearly double its factory power output.
If you’ve never modified an Audi before, this may seem like a daunting number of things to alter. Among the many reasons that we feel Audis is loftier to other brands, one is surely due to their truly capable drivability. Javad and his team feel no different about their love of the four rings, and do not sacrifice that quality when enhancing these vehicles. 034 has been modifying Audi vehicles since before their official inception in 2005. Since then, they have grown with the advancing technologies and continued to improve upon a platform they have become experts in.
If that still doesn’t sell it for you, Nick recently loaned his SQ5 to his parents and was pleased to hear they did not know it was modified during their time with it. Many of us would have tested the limits shortly after getting mirrors adjusted but knowing that your non-automotive friends and family can enjoy the luxury quality and comfort that comes with Audi ownership, while also relishing blisteringly fast power on the on-ramp headed home from work, is what some would call “having your cake and eating it too.”
Project SQ5 doesn’t just pull runs at the drag strip or duties Sunday driving with the parents either. Nick and the team have taken his SQ5 on track at Laguna Seca, running high 1.40 lap times while passing gutted track cars. This has encouraged several other SQ5 owners to follow suit, creating their own SQ5 corral at events they frequent. Aside from the performance events, Nick also uses the SQ5 for towing and rough terrain that other 10-second cars would choose to avoid.
All around, his SQ5 has the utility you need in a hatch, crossover or SUV, coupled with the unbeatable luxury you’d expect in an Audi experience. The icing on top is enjoying all of that while seldom worrying about beating someone off the line. Now if Audi could include massage seats from factory, this would truly be the ultimate 10-second SUV.