Variant: Special Edition
Engine / Transmission: 3.0 turbo diesel – 8 speed automatic transmission
Manufacturer Claimed Fuel Economy: 6.8L/100km combined
Price: From $104900 plus on road costs.
Audi’s SQ5 is the sportiest of the Q5 range, with the boffins from Ingolstadt choosing to skip the full-on RS specification for it’s mid size soft roader. Go down a size and you can opt for a RSQ3; go up a size (or two) and you can opt for the RSQ8; go sideways and you can opt for the RS6 Avant, but if you’ve got your heart set on a sporty, mid size SUV with the four rings then this is your lot.
Fortunately, by avoiding the RS moniker you save a stack of cash while still retaining the essence of Audi Sport flavour, even if it does miss out on the full Cholula of the RS range.
As it is, acceleration is ample, with 0-100kph dispatched in a tick over five seconds. This pace is no surprise when you take into account the 255kw and 700nm produced by the tuned 3.0 litre turbo diesel six. It’s a stupidly fast family car and an absolute torque monster.
As tested, the EFTM SQ5 was supplied in ‘Special Edition’ trim and had some tasty techy extras. In addition to the comprehensive standard equipment fitted to every SQ5, ours featured the superb Matrix LED headlights, LED tail lights, front and rear dynamic indicators and massage seats from the RS6 Avant tested earlier in the year. The $2990 Quattro Sport Differential seemed to be worth it.
It adds to Audi’s legendary quattro all-wheel-drive system (which can split power front to rear) by allowing the differential to split power side to side, reducing understeer. On test, the SQ5 did not even hint at a loss of grip or understeer; an accomplishment for a front heavy chassis. The Climate Controlled Beverage Holder was cute, but at $350 perhaps unnecessary.
The Q5 chassis makes for a fine family car. It is small, but easy to maneuver. The boot is adequate and rear leg room impressive (mainly thanks to a sliding rear seat).
Selecting the SQ5 turns what is a perfectly adequate family hauler into a supremely subtle road rocket. The SQ5 is absolutely at its best as a country road express, where its prodigious torque makes overtakes a snap and its rock solid grip reassuring.
Not So Impressive:
Unfortunately, you can’t ride this many horses without feeding them. Audi claims a tidy 6.8 litres per 100km, but in spirited driving this figure doubles. Further, the Audi Sport tune encourages a ‘turbo lag’ inspired throttle response.
Audi uses an electric compressor (kinda like an electric turbo) to limit turbo lag, so the problem could simply be the calibration of the fly by wire throttle. Regardless, it feels like turbo lag and makes smooth and fast difficult. Needless to say, with this many ponies, point and squirt is easy.
WHEN ON A TEST DRIVE:
Bargain hard because Audi has this week released details of an updated Q5. Coming in at under $90k, the 2021 Q5 50TDI S-Line looks like it is going to be the pick of the range, featuring the Turn Assist, 360 degree camera and Stop&Go Cruise Control of the Sport but adding a body kit, unique grill, front bumper and rear diffuser.
This is all in addition to the connectivity provided by the new myAudi smart assistant fitted to all models. The Q5 50TDI is a little down on power and torque compared to the SQ5, but promises to only take 0.6 of a second longer in the sprint to 100kph. Definitely one to keep an eye out for.