THERE’S a time and place for a diesel performance car, but damned if we want to be there if there’s a petrol version going begging. And that has just become the case with Audi’s new-generation SQ5 performance SUV.
It’s belting out a solid 260kW and 500Nm and, in the SQ5’s case, is shifting 1945kg – not a crazy amount. That’s thanks, in part, to a big effort by Audi to remove weight from its new Q5, with a 130kg diet to show for its efforts.
Stepping into the smartly styled, high-riding Audi you are blown away yet again by the new generation of Ingolstadt interiors, with more materials than you can count and bristling with standard technology like the new Virtual Cockpit.
Fire it up and there’s a muted growl which turns to a polite bellow as you boot it. The SQ5 accelerates to 100km/h in a fuss-free 5.4 seconds thanks to its quattro all-wheel drive system and responsive eight-speed torque converter automatic. Meanwhile the chunky, 350mm front brakes with six-pot calipers pull up the big Audi easily on the road with little pedal effort.
And we could almost conclude the review there. How does it go up a tight and twisty road? Not really sure, because Audi chose to launch the SQ5 on almost exclusively straight 100km/h country roads between Melbourne and Adelaide.
Which is a shame because, on one little excursion of twisty dirt road along the way, the new-generation SQ5 felt great – poised and balanced, even adjustable, if not big on communication, which is to be expected. It was even a bit fun.
Instead we can talk at length about the SQ5 on Aussie country roads and we know enough to say, for the love of god, get the $2150 optional air suspension. Without it, the standard adaptive dampers offer minimal difference between Comfort and Dynamic, and the ride in Dynamic on the optional air suspension is nicer than the standard dampers in Comfort. It’s surprisingly busy.
You should also consider the $2950 sport differential if you really wanted an RS3 but are unexpectedly in the market for a pram, as although we can’t say how it might change the SQ5’s personality, our experience with the S4 is that it’s money well spent.
We’ll possibly have another stab at the new SQ5 at a later date for a definitive handling verdict. But as it stands, the new engine is a peach, it’s chocka-block full of standard equipment, has a lovely interior and goes reasonably hard.
This is no hot hatch on stilts – at least, not that we can tell so far – but represents a fantastic all-rounder if you must have the high driving position and badge on the front, with a little extra overtaking muscle to flex.
4 out of 5 stars
Likes: Engine; competent handling
Dislikes: Standard ride; muted exhaust note
2018 Audi SQ5 Specs:
Engine: 2995cc V6, DOHC, 24v, turbo
Power: 260kW @ 5400-6400rpm
Torque: 500Nm @ 1370-4500rpm
0-100km/h: 5.4sec (claimed)