Audi has upgraded its mid-sized SQ5 SUV with a 3.0-litre turbo diesel engine joining the existing 3.0-litre V6 petrol.

The title SUV, or Sports Utility Vehicle, seems to be applied to just about anything nowadays – from slightly bulked up compact hatchbacks all the way through to large seven-seat off-road wagons.

While there’s no argument about the typically tall squarish bodies of these SUVs justifying the ‘utility’ part of the name very few have any real ‘sports’ credentials – unless it refers to transporting players and their gear to and from sporting events.

Launched here in 2013 the SQ5 was one of the first SUVs with genuine claims to sporting performance. It was also the first Audi SQ model, subsequently joined by the larger SQ7 and SQ8 as well as the high-performance RS Q3 and RS Q8 models. More will follow including the compact SQ2.

Potential buyers should note that only 240 units of the SQ5 TDI are being imported to Australia with a facelift of both petrol and diesel models, including the standard Q5, due in the first half of 2021.

To attract early sales the diesel is being marketed as the SQ5 TDI Special Edition and given black exterior styling highlights including black roof rails, mirrors and window and grille frames, matrix LED headlights and Atlas carbon fibre interior inlays.

All seats have fine Nappa leather, with sports seats in the front featuring heating and a choice of three different massage settings. There’s plenty of rear leg and headroom even with the panoramic sunroof. Rear passengers get their own climate controls and two air vents.

Boot capacity is 510 litres with the rear seatback in place expandable to 1510 litre with the seats down. There’s a space-saver spare wheel beneath the boot floor.

Towing capacity is 2000 kg with a braked trailer.

The SQ5 TDI is powered by a 3.0-litre variable-geometry turbo-diesel engine that produces 255kW of power and 700Nm of torque. An electric powered compressor (EPC) draws extra power from a 48-volt mild-hybrid electric MHEV) system.

The hybrid has a ‘coast’ mode which can turn the engine off in the most benign cruising situation when no throttle is being applied. While it’s all but imperceptible it will show in the instrument cluster.

Transmission is through a quick-shifting eight-speed tiptronic automatic and the Audi quattro all-wheel drive technology.

Audi SQ5 has earned the expected five-star Euro NCAP and Australasian NCAP safety ratings, thanks to an impressive array of standard safety features.

Audi Australia tells us that every safety assistance feature that is available in the SQ5 active lane assist; 360-degree cameras; rear cross-traffic and collision avoidance assist; exit warning and turn assist.

Included are Audi pre-sense city with autonomous emergency braking and pedestrian detection, up to 85 km/h, cross rear traffic assist, side assist and blind spot warning. If the car senses a crash may be imminent Audi pre-sense basic has seat belt tensioning and window closing.

The roof rails in the SQ5 now come with a set of removable cross members that can be locked onto the rails. They come with sensors which tells the car when a load is there and modifies the stability control system settings to cater for the change.

Air suspension is a $2150 option.

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. Audi smartphone interface provides access to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The infotainment screen is comparatively small at 8.3 inches and still looks like it should be retractable. It’s not a touchscreen but uses a touchpad in the centre console. Much better is the now familiar Audi virtual cockpit with a 12.3-inch high-resolution dashboard, which can be reconfigured to a sports-specific ‘S’ mode at the touch of a button. There also a head-up display.

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

The Audi SQ5 TDI produces a distinctive growling quasi-V8 tone courtesy of a sound actuator through a set of speakers located under the vehicle as part of the exhaust system which work in conjunction with the engine management system. Even though it’s largely artificial we love the engine sound especially as it comes from the exhaust pipes rather than being piped into the car as is the norm with similar systems.

As with the SQ5 TFSI the 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% of torque to the rear wheels.

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

Fuel consumption is listed at 6.8 litres per 100 kilometres including 0.4 L/00 km courtesy of the 48V hybrid system. These our MHEV which might be achievable in motorway cruising but our launch test was predominantly over an enjoyable route and we were a fair bit higher. We’ll get a better idea when we do our extended test hopefully early in the new year.

The Audi SQ5 3.0 TDI Special Edition is priced at $104,900 plus on-road costs. It is covered by Audi’s rather meagre three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.


SQ5 TFSI: $101,136
SQ5 TDI Special Edition: $104,900
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Audi dealer for driveaway prices.

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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