Until now, the Audi SQ5 was a hot SUV with a powerful diesel engine under the bonnet, but that changes for this all-new second-generation version. Instead it purloins the three-litre V6 petrol engine we’ve seen in the S4 sedan and the S5 coupe.
Your first thought is that it probably quaffs a lot of fuel as a result. Most petrol-engined sports SUV need a bankroll like Gina Rinehart’s to keep fuelled up, but the SQ5 gets a whole suite of efficiency measures to keep things sensible at the bowsers.
If you want a car that covers ground quickly and discreetly, with an elevated seating position and all of the latest safety gear, the SQ5 is well worth your attention. Prices start at $99,611, but can quickly go north if you’re a bit enthusiastic with the options list.
- The three-litre engine is turbine smooth and delivers a real shove in the back at virtually anywhere in the rev range.
- At 8.7 litres per 100km, fuel economy isn’t disastrous.
- There’s enough ground clearance to make the SQ5 capable of light off-road work.
- You get the usual beautiful Audi interior, with an S-specific flat-bottomed steering wheel, diamond stitched Nappa leather seats and brushed aluminium dashboard inlays.
- Handling is neat and tidy and there’s masses of grip from the full-time quattro all-wheel drive system.
- The styling moves on from its blobbier predecessor, with sharply cut lights and grille, and a distinctive ‘tornado line’ shoulder running down the flanks.
- It’s 130kg lighter than its predecessor, which pays dividends not only at the pumps, but in the way the car accelerates, brakes and negotiates a corner.
- The 34mm longer wheelbase gives rear seat passengers a bit more room to stretch out than the old version.
- You get a ‘gesture control’ tailgate as standard, so you can wave your foot under the bumper to open it if you’re laden down with gear.
- Audi’s ‘Virtual Cockpit’ dial set is fitted as standard, so you can configure the clocks how you want them, even displaying a massive 12.3-inch wide map in the instrument cluster if you’re paranoid about getting lost.
- Switching the car into ‘Dynamic’ mode adds a bit more volume to the engine and exhaust.
- There’s a huge amount of safety and convenience kit fitted as standard, with gear like eight airbags, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and even warnings that prevent you reversing out of a space into crossing traffic or opening a door into approaching cars or bicycles.
- The stability control is so clever it can even tell if you’re carrying something on the roof bars.
- A 360-degree camera projects a live birds-eye view of the car to help with parking.
- Interior space is bigger than before, with 550 litres of space in the back (up 10 litres on the old car). Specify the sliding rear bench and that can expand to 610 litres.
- The interior is beautifully finished and the ergonomics work well too.
- There’s an inductive charger that can wirelessly charge Android phones.
- The SQ5 is seriously rapid, getting to 100km/h in just 5.4 seconds.
- The eight-speed tiptronic automatic box is smoother than the soles of James Brown’s shoes.
- The ride quality is firmer than it needs to be. Fortunately, Audi has priced the optional air suspension very reasonably at just $2150. It’s the best investment you can make for the SQ5.
- Options are otherwise very expensive. Once you’ve tried the amazing Audi Matrix LED headlights you’ll definitely want them on the SQ5. Unfortunately, you can’t do that without going the whole hog on the $5600 Technik package. The plus side? You also get a head up display and a delicious 755-watt, 19 speaker Bang and Olufsen stereo system.
- Then only two standard paint colours are black and white. If you want any other hue, $1846 is just the starting price.
- The 21-inch alloy wheels that are fitted as standard give the car a slightly cartoonish stance and look very vulnerable to damage if you plan to travel on unmetalled roads.
- The engine and exhaust are a bit muted. If you’re looking for a real fire-breathing SUV, the SQ5 might come across as a bit mannered.
- Audi is going to launch a diesel version of the SQ5, but won’t say when. We have a suspicion that that model might well be the go.
- Fake exhaust vents look a tad gauche.
ANY RIVALS I SHOULD CONSIDER?
The Audi SQ5 competitors in the mid-sized premium sports SUV market include the likes of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, the BMW X4 xDrive 35d, the Jaguar F-Pace V6 S, the Mercedes GLC 43 AMG, the Porsche Macan S and the Volvo XC60 T8.