Question: When is an SUV not an SUV? Answer: When it’s an Audi SQ5. The phrase ‘sports utility vehicle’ may seem an oxymoron when applied to most vehicles of the type but this is one that takes the title like no other.
The second-generation SQ5 is the successor to one of the most popular Audi performance models to have made it Down Under and at 130 kg lighter and 20 kW (260 kW) more powerful is a worthy combination of performance and practicality.
With the SQ5 sprinting to 100 km/h in just 5.4 seconds ‘sports’ certainly gets a big tick; with the new Audi offering an additional 10 litres of luggage space over its predecessor, between 550 and 610 litres, depending on the positioning of the sliding rear seat bench. Finally, with the seat back folded a cavernous 1550 litres of cargo room is available. ‘Utility’ indeed.
The SQ5 comes in at a whisker under $100,000, while test car options on our vehicle added $12,000 to the price.
As sports cars go, the SQ5 is no looker, relying on what’s under the skin to tempt the performance-car buyer. While said to boast an exclusive styling package – no swoopy silhouette with jagged cut-outs – it’s left to a bold stance, 21-inch alloy wheels and red brake calipers to wave the get-up-and-go flag.
The latest in adaptive LED headlights and dynamic rear indicators weigh with a touch of prestige and kick-motion operated electric tailgate adds a useful gimmick that is likely to attract onlooker comment.
Front occupants get sports seats, they and the rear pews are upholstered in fine Nappa leather. The now familiar Audi virtual cockpit focuses on a 12.3-inch high-resolution dashboard, which can be reconfigured to a sports-specific ‘S’ mode at the touch of a button.
Privacy glass adds a touch of mystery to passengers, while acoustic glazing allows occupants to enjoy conversation or take pleasure in the high-end audio system without undesirable external influences.
In technological terms, the new SQ5 leaves its predecessor stuck in a bygone era 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 (often absent these days) with two SDXC card readers, 3D maps, live traffic info and natural voice recognition are all standard.
The SQ5 comes with Audi Connect, which enables a high-speed 4G LTE connection via a regular data SIM card. There is Google Earth and Google Search. Audi smartphone interface allows use of via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
The 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 petrol engine in the SQ5 is an all-new design from the ground up. The new engine produces 260kW, while peak torque of 500Nm is available from as low as 1370rpm.
The new SQ5 has achieved a five-star Euro NCAP 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 85 km/h, exit warning, cross rear traffic assist, side assist and blind spot warning.
If the car senses a crash may be imminent Audi pre-sense basic has automatic belt tensioning and window closing.
Also on hand were 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 250 km/h), predictive efficiency assistant and high-beam assist.
The sports side of the test car was 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.
Such lightning reflexes were made possible by positioning the turbocharger in the 90 degree ‘V’ of the cylinders, thus ensuring the shortest paths for exhaust gases to take.
Fuel consumption on the official drive cycle is 8.7 L/100km. During our tests we registered 14.9 litres per 100 kilometres in city suburbs and 6.7 litres per 100 on the motorway.
The quattro drivetrain worked in 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.
The SQ5 took advantage of an optional sport diff ($2950) which can shift even more torque to the rear wheel with the most grip, effectively ‘pointing’ the car towards the apex of a corner.
Brakes, suitably powerful, with 350mm ventilated front discs incorporating six-piston calipers, and 330mm discs at the rear, pulled up the SQ5 assuredly, if a little sharply at times. A light touch was needed here.
On the practical side, the new Audi SQ5 comes standard with an electric tailgate, activated by a sensor-controlled ‘kick motion’, which proved a bonus when loading in some particularly unpleasant weather.
The test vehicle was optioned with an Audi Technik package ($5600) consisting of Audi Matrix LED headlamps incorporating LED daytime running lights and headlamp washers, dynamic front and rear indicators, all-weather lights, motorway light function and LED rear lights.
Also included in the package was an audio upgrade to a Bang & Olufsen 3D Sound System with 19 speakers, including tweeters in the upper part of the A-pillars delivering 755 Watts through a 16-channel amplifier.
Front door speakers have illuminated accents.
A full colour head-up display covered speed, navigation guides and driver assist information.
Customer value offered by the original Audi SQ5 was one of the reasons it was so successful. This continues in the new generation with generous standard equipment backed by optional Styling and Technik packages adding extra exclusiveness.
AT A GLANCE
Audi SQ5 3.0 TFSI quattro tiptronic: $99,611
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Audi dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Audi 3.0-litre TFSI direct injection petrol SUV)
Capacity: 2.995 litres
Maximum Power: 260 kW @ 5400-6400 rpm
Maximum Torque: 500 Nm @ 1370-4500 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 8.7 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 200 g/km
DRIVELINE: Eight-speed tiptronic automatic, quattro
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4671 mm
Wheelbase: 2824 mm
Width: 1893 mm
Height: 1635 mm
Kerb Mass: 1870 kg
Turning circle: 11.7 m
Fuel Tank Capacity: 70 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc
Three years / unlimited kilometres