I’ve come to the conclusion that this year is already flying by. It’s nearly the end of April and some big shows have been and gone. There’s a nice consistent rate of projects being unveiled and the weather is getting better by the week, so yes, it’s shaping up to be quite the year so far. Something that caught my eye recently was Ian Kelly’s amazing Audi SQ5, which I saw rolling up to Ultimate Dubs last month looking hard as nails and ever so casual.
Lets set the scene for a minute. I was standing outside with my camera, watching everyone wash their cars before gently throwing them inside the venue – you could say I was “double busy”, for all you Micky Flanagan fans out there (British comedian, look him up) – when Ian pulled up slowly like it was no big deal. In that moment in time, there and then… it was love at first sight.
Have you ever been in that situation before, where you see something for the very first time and you come over all child-like, basically like you need to have it? I was speechless for a little while, as before this sudden event happened, I was thinking how cool it would be to lower a 4×4 of some sort. Won over? Of course I was!
I just had to shoot it, if I couldn’t unfortunately have it, so the perfect time to make it a reality was at Early Edition. Straight after the show I jumped in with Ian and headed to the location I scoped out earlier that day. Luckily, the spot wasn’t occupied by anyone else so it free for us to shoot – surprising, as it was so close to the show ground. All I wanted was an empty, open space and then the shoot was golden.
So here’s the SQ5 I’m currently raving about right now. Gorgeous right?
First of all, I need to mention that this car has been under wraps for quite a while now. It shows the true extent of patience Ian had, as I’m sure he was itching to show everyone this lovely looking thing as soon as he got it. There’s a great deal of fun in keeping something underground whilst refining those small and big details. Don’t get me wrong, an interesting build thread is great and watching a project evolve throughout the many stages, but there’s something about the ‘knowing of’ and yearning to see it so badly, which keeps it exciting.
As you may already know by now, I like to keep things different and interesting here at ConduktCo with my features, so a slammed SQ5 on Vossen wheels, with lots of custom carbon fibre work, was the perfect subject. A very unique Audi out there right now, that’s for sure.
Lets cut to the chase here. I asked Ian his reasons behind choosing the SQ5 and he replied, “Initially, I was planning on doing a Tiguan, I even went as far as buying bumpers to cut up. But having looked at the numbers, the car didn’t stack up and I scrapped the plan“. He also explained, “I had seen a slammed Q5 from Japan a couple of years ago and I loved it, so I decided that the SQ5 was the car for me. It had the looks, the engine and performance. I use the car daily, racking up 25,000 miles a year, so the economy of my old S3 was killing me. The SQ5 has 313bhp, 650nm torque, will do 0-60 in 5.1 seconds from stock, yet can do 48 mpg when I need it. It was a no brainer for me“.
What do you know about carbon fibre huh? This thing has it all, so much so, that it will make any weave obsessive go through a minor breakdown in life.
On the exterior, it shows off the custom carbon rear diffuser with smoothed tow cover, finished in matte. The carbon chosen is an OEM weave ran straight instead of diagonally off the roll, which mirrors how Audi do their diffuser on the all new RS6. The trim piece was also changed from a chrome finish to matte black. Custom front carbon grille and features a one off full composite RS6 style bottom intake, again in an OEM weave. Both grille surround and SQ5 badge are also in, you guessed it, carbon.
Trim around the windows and on the grilles have been painted matte black. The mirror caps are painted a custom dark black bronze to match the wheels, again in a matte finish.
And the interior wasn’t left standard for long either. It stunts a custom carbon fibre trim set finished in gloss, custom C6 Carbon badges replacing the OEM Quattro ones and carbon seat backs, finished in gloss. The interior of any SQ5 will look awesome, so to improve and add those aesthetically pleasing details, makes it a much more satisfying place to be – you don’t want to get out of this thing either.
With any other normal car, bolting on some coilovers and lowering it to whatever height will suffice, but not here. A SQ5 is a special car that requires that huge amount of attention to quality and execution. This is why Ian has gone straight to StillStatic, who offer one of the highest quality coilover suspension solutions, allowing extreme lows and whilst maintaining a preferred level of comfort.
The choice in question, is a custom 150mm H&R Race kit supplied by Simon at StillStatic and produced by AH Exclusive Parts in Europe. Ian mentioned “The kit still has room to go lower once we have manufactured some additional C6 Carbon chassis components, in billet of course, not carbon!“.
It wasn’t all plain sailing though with this setup, as Ian goes on to tell me, “When the kit was fitted, I had a huge issue with front camber, as it ran -3 degrees up front and ruined a set of tyres in no time. I looked at various options to resolve the issue and eventually imported a set of upper control arms from the states. The kit sadly didn’t work as expected, as it simply wasn’t designed to work on cars so low – the company even asked if the car could drive that low when I sent them photos of the issue, and at this point it wasn’t even as low as it is now! So working with Paul at C6, we designed and produced some new arms which allowed the car to go way lower yet still have the camber adjustment required, with no chassis contact“.
There are more new components in the works which will give the option of going lower, allowing for full and proper use of the H&R kit, yet full reversibility. No cutting of the chassis will be needed. This full kit will be exclusively available from C6 Carbon, the company which produced all stunning carbon fibre work for this project.
So he’s got it sitting right, but what on? Vossen is a big front runner in the wheel industry, literally holding it down strong, all over the world. Their CVT model which Ian has gone for, looks amazing in my opinion. Specs wise, they are 22″ x 10.5J all round with ET32 fronts and E27 rears. They’re also wrapped in 265/30/22 Falken 452 tyres.
“The wheels were test fitted but I wasn’t 100% sure the spec I went for would even fit! It also took weeks to find the paint I wanted, then eventually I had to get a custom colour made” Ian went on to say.
I wanted to get some background on where it all started, seeing as the whole thing has been kept so quiet for months on end. He picked up the car in September, brand new from Bath Audi and drove it back to the North East. Ian had never driven a Q5, let alone a SQ5 before – some would say that it was risky on such an expensive car but he knew he’d love it. Ian said that the drive back home was fantastic, and I could only imagine! The 3.0 V6 BiTDI in Dynamic Mode sounds like a snarling petrol V8, so of course he was hooked instantly.
The car was originally ordered in Estoril Blue but was soon changed to Monsoon Grey, as Ian thought the colour was too dark for his liking. After getting his hands on the new love in his life, modifications started. Ian picked up a grill from Germany and then purchased a replacement rear diffuser, to pass onto Paul at C6 Carbon to work his magic on.
He mentioned that keeping it a secret was very difficult, as he wanted wanted to turn up at a show and for it to be a complete surprise. Well, he certainly did that at Ultimate Dubs and the responsive he had was brilliant. The biggest hurdle for Ian was getting information on what was possible with wheel sizes and suspension. There weren’t many done and Ian wanted to keep the build under wraps, so it was a trial and error situation to get things right.
The goal was to create a car that has class and quality. Ian loves concept cars, so the aim was to make his own concept inspired car. Working with numerous friends and contacts, the project became a reality – to turn things upside down and create something that shouldn’t be low, super low at that, but yet still comfortable. Ian took inspiration from the RS6 Avant, a car that’s perfect in his eyes. He loved the RS6 from Neidfaktor Hamburg and took some of their touches to incorporate them on the SQ5.
Some of you may have seen Ian’s old White S3 project, which featured a lot of custom carbon fibre work, so of course his latest build will be, I guess, an improvement of the previous venture. “I’ve been good friends with Paul at C6 Carbon since he worked on my S3, so it was always going to be that he worked on the SQ5. There is nothing that he can’t do. I turn up with an idea and he makes it happen.” Ian told me.
Like many automotive enthusiasts out there, Ian’s project is long term. We all have ideas that constantly build up in our heads, so I have no doubt that he will continue to personalise his Audi in a near perfect way. He plans on adding more carbon fibre parts and then to moving onto the interior at some point; Leather with Alcantara, which will obviously work super well, being an Audi after all. A possible brake upgrade could be on the horizon, even though this thing sports 380mm discs up front. A remap is also on his list of things to do, to give it more poke, not that it’s short of any right now – 313bhp.
What I love about these types of projects, builds and personal triumphs, is that they all share the same theme and it’s simply put – uniqueness. This SQ5 has had no real influence in its path to glory. It’s an independent project, following that vision and idea Ian had inside of his mind the whole time. This car is not a sheep, it doesn’t follow the heard, it doesn’t do what it’s told – it’s different and sculpts its own world. It’s the black sheep of the crowd.
Yes, ideas have come from other particular places but it’s adapting them into something new. I absolutely love the route that this project has proceeded down.
I’m very excited to see where this story continues, because in my eyes, it’s only destined for great things. Game changer? Ok, it’s a bold statement from myself I know, but I think it might just be. Time will tell, as with any venture and its impact on the automotive scene, worldwide. For now, it has left its mark, a carbon fibre mark but for how long?