AUDI SQ5 IS A GENUINE ALL-ROUNDER

The SQ5 is the hero model in Audi’s mid-sized Q5 range. It’s been on sale here since 2013 when it introduced a new genre, the sporty(ish) SUV.

Under the bonnet SQ5 has had something of an identity crisis over the years. From 2013 to 2017 it was powered by a 3.0-litre TDI turbo-diesel, before switching over to a 3.0-litre TFSI petrol through until 2020 when it reverted, by popular demand, to diesel power courtesy of a more powerful 3.0-litre with mild-hybrid technology.

Two body styles are available, Wagon/SUV and Sportback although the differences are barely noticeable. The MY2021 wagon is on sale now, and is the subject of this review, while upgraded Sportback will be launched towards the end of October 2021.

STYLING
Externally the new Audi SQ5 is largely unchanged from the previous model which makes sense because it’s always been a strikingly handsome vehicle. The Audi family grille gets a new stretched honeycomb fill, there are 21-inch alloy wheels with red brake callipers.

Our test vehicle had the optional OLED tail lights with twin oval exhausts on either side.

Nine body colours are available on the new Audi Q5, as well as a variety of interior colour schemes – depending on the model.

INTERIOR
Entry is easy and the Nappa leather seats are comfortable and supportive. The front sports seats have heating and a choice of three different massage settings. Fit and finish is impeccable with high quality materials throughout.

The interior is roomy enough for four adults and a child, with three adults in the back seat being reasonably comfortable. There’s plenty of rear leg and headroom even with the panoramic sunroof while rear passengers get their own climate controls and two air vents.

Boot capacity is 550 litres with the rear seatbacks in place expandable to 1550 litres with the seats down. The tailgate is powered and there’s netting to prevent items sliding around as well as a hooks, tie-down points, privacy blind and controls to fold down the rear seatbacks.

The spare wheel is a space-saver stored beneath the boot floor.

SAFETY
Audi SQ5’s full suite of safety and assistance starts with eight airbags, enhanced ABS brakes and Electronic Stabilisation Control with electronic wheel-selective torque control.

Audi pre-sense features add autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection at speeds up to 85 km/h; extended collision warnings and emergency braking at all speeds; and rear-end collision warnings including high frequency hazard light activation.

Other assistance features include 360-degree cameras; adaptive cruise control; front and rear parking assist; lane change warning and active assist; driver attention alert; collision avoidance assist; cross traffic alert; exit warning system; high beam assist; light and rain sensor; park assist and turn assist.

ENGINE / TRANSMISSION
The SQ5 TDI is powered by a 3.0-litre variable-geometry turbo-diesel engine that produces 251 kW of power and a whopping 700 Nm of torque from as low as 1750 rpm. It draws extra power from a 48-volt mild-hybrid electric (MHEV) system.

Unlike the previous twin-turbo TDI the MY2021 SQ5 has a single turbocharger but with an electric compressor effectively replacing the previous low-pressure turbo and provides sharper take-off with less turbo lag, smoother acceleration, reduced fuel consumption and lower emissions.

Transmission is through a quick-shifting eight-speed tiptronic automatic and the long-established Audi quattro AWD system.

INFOTAINMENT
The main infotainment display is through a 10.1-inch touchscreen which replaces the previous rotary controller on the centre console. The tabs are large, easy to read and respond rapidly.

The 12.3-inch virtual cockpit instrument display in front of the driver includes high-definition satellite navigation display. It can be reconfigured to a sports-specific ‘S’ mode at the touch of a button. There also a head-up display.

Audi Connect enables a high-speed 4G LTE connection via a regular data SIM card, as well as Google Earth and Google Search. Audi smartphone interface provides access to Apple CarPlay (wireless) and Android Auto (wired).

There are four USB ports, two at the front and two at the rear, with wireless smartphone charging in the centre console.

Sound comes through a premium 19-speaker 755 Watts Bang & Olufsen 3D surround-sound system.

DRIVING
One of the most fascinating features, and a major talking point, of the Audi SQ5 TDI is its unusual engine sound. While it’s clearly a diesel the typical harshness has been suppressed and instead there’s a distinctive growl that’s almost V8 sounding.

The secret is a sound actuator that operates through a set of speakers located beneath the vehicle as part of the exhaust system which work in conjunction with the engine management system. Even though it’s largely artificial, and so not to all tastes, we love it especially as it comes from the exhaust pipes rather than being piped into the car as is the case with similar systems.

The combination of the new electric compressor and the hybrid battery are immediately noticeable with instant torque at take-off and a zero to 100 km/h time of just 5.1 seconds. There’s excellent all-round visibility and

Out on the motorway the big Audi is a smooth, quiet and comfortable cruiser.

A quattro sport rear differential is available as an option. This allows extra torque to be applied to the rear wheel with the most grip, effectively pointing the car towards the apex of a corner.

Cornering is about as precise as you can get from an SUV body with the quattro AWD system able to send up to 85 per cent of torque to the rear wheels.

There are three drive modes: Comfort, Eco, and All Terrain with ride height adjustment up to 60 mm.

Fuel consumption is listed at 7.0 litres per 100 kilometres. This includes 0.7 L/00 km courtesy of the 48V hybrid system which has a ‘coast’ mode which can turn the engine off in the most benign cruising situation and run for up to 40 seconds on battery alone. The change is barely noticeable although it does show in the instrument cluster

We averaged 7.7 L/100km during our test.

SUMMING UP
Audi SQ5 is an excellent all-rounder, equally at home around town, on the motorway or out in the countryside. With its rare diesel/electric powertrain it combines great looks with practicality, sportiness and fuel efficiency.

Potential buyers may like to hold off for a few weeks to await the arrival of the new SQ5 Sportback variant.

Audi Australia is one of the few carmakers still providing a three-year warranty although it does come with unlimited kilometres.

AT A GLANCE

MODEL RANGE
SQ5 3.0 TDI quattro SUV: $106,500
SQ5 3.0 TDI quattro Sportback: $110,900
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Audi dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Audi SQ5 quattro 3.0-litre turbo-diesel / electric hybrid five-door wagon)

ENGINE:
Capacity: 2.967 litres
Configuration: V6
Maximum Power: 251 kW @ 3800 rpm
Maximum Torque: 700 Nm @ 1750 rpm
Fuel Type: Diesel
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 7.0 L/100km
CO2 emissions 185 g/km

DRIVELINE: Eight-speed automatic

DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4671 mm
Wheelbase: 2832 mm
Width: 1898 mm
Height: 1634 mm
Turning Circle: 11.7 metres
Kerb Mass: 2085 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 70 litres

BRAKES:
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc

STANDARD WARRANTY:
Three years / unlimited kilometres

About Alistair Kennedy

Alistair Kennedy is Automotive News Service and Marque Publishing's business manager and the company's jack-of-all-trades. An accountant by profession, he designs the Marque range of motoring book titles, operates the company's motoring bookshop on the NSW Central Coast and the associated web site, as well as its huge digital and hard copy database. Whenever we can escape from the office he does so to cover new vehicle releases and contributes news stories. Alistair's other interests include cricket and family history on which he has written three books.
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