The phrase sports utility vehicle, or SUV, these days is applied to anything from a compact two-wheel drive ‘shopping trolley’ to a large genuine off-roader that, in most cases, can carry up to seven occupants.
Deconstructing the segments there are few that justify the tag ‘sports’, or even ‘utility’. However, German auto maker Audi has just dropped off in Australia a vehicle that does fit the bill
The second-generation Audi SQ5 is the successor to one of the most popular Audi performance models to have made it to these shores and at 130 kg lighter and 20 kW more powerful (now 260 kW) is a worthy combination of performance and practicality.
The sports side of things is taken care of by a new 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 engine mated with a quick-shifting eight-speed tiptronic automatic transmission and the iconic Audi quattro all-wheel drive technology, which has the new SQ5 sprinting to 100 km/h in just 5.4 seconds.
Such lightning reflexes are made possible by positioning the turbocharger inside the 90 degree ‘V’ of the cylinders, thus ensuring the shortest paths for exhaust gases to take. Official fuel consumption is 8.7 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined urban / highway cycle.
Centre of the quattro all-wheel-drive system is a differential that under normal driving conditions splits the engine torque 40/60 front/rear. Up to 85 per cent can be directed to either end if slip occurs, while an optional sport diff can shift even more torque to the rear wheel with the most grip, effectively ‘pointing’ the car towards the apex of a corner.
This was illustrated on many fast bends during spirited driving on a media launch run between Melbourne and Adelaide. The quattro also worked in nicely with the newly developed five-link front and rear suspensions, further complemented by the standard adaptive dampers that came up with a comfortable ride, dynamic handling and everything in between via the Audi drive select system.
Brakes, suitably powerful, with 350 mm ventilated front discs incorporating six-piston calipers, and 330mm discs at the rear, pulled up the Audi SQ5 responsively in an assured manner.
The ‘utility’ aspect is present in spades, with the new Audi offering an additional 10 litres of luggage space over its predecessor, with between 550 and 610 litres available, depending on the positioning of the sliding rear seat bench. With the seat back folded a cavernous 1550 litres of cargo room is available.
A further convenience is the standard electric tailgate, which can be activated by a kick motion sensor. Finally, Audi gives owners a wide range of options and accessories to make even the most active lifestyle within reach. How about a luggage securing kit with load rails in the boot floor, bike racks, a kayak holder, aerodynamic roof box and more?
In technological terms, the new Audi SQ5 leaves its predecessor ‘in the grass’ with infotainment and connectivity being the new benchmark in the premium segment. MMI Navigation plus with MMI touch, an 8.3-inch high-res screen, DVD player with two SDXC card readers, 3-D maps, live traffic info and natural voice recognition are all standard.
Every SQ5 comes with Audi Connect, which enables a high-speed 4G LTE connection via a regular data SIM card, as well as Google Earth and Google Search, while Audi smartphone interface allows use of via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The new SQ5 is no slouch when it comes to safety too, with a five-star European and Australasian NCAP safety rating, thanks to an impressive array of standard safety features.
Included are Audi pre-sense city with autonomous emergency braking and pedestrian detection up to 85km/h, exit warning, cross rear traffic assist, side assist blind spot warning, Audi pre-sense basic (belt tensioning, window closing and other preventative measures in an emergency), Audi pre-sense rear (warning following traffic if they are at risk of running into the rear of the car), parking system plus with 360-degree surround and rear-view camera, adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go, turn assist, Audi pre-sense front (collision warning up to 250km/h), predictive efficiency assistant and high-beam assist.
Customer value offered by the original Audi SQ5 was one of the reasons it was so successful. Now standard equipment is further extended in the new generation with Styling and Technik packages.
The Audi SQ5 3.0 TFSI quattro tiptronic is priced at $99,611, plus on-road costs. It is covered by Audi’s three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.