The European car-making business’s love affair with the SUV is showing no signs of cooling – and the good news is the variety that infatuation is fuelling makes the phenomenon anything but boring.
Big ones, small ones, rugged ones, hybrid ones, premium ones, cheap ones, square ones and rakish ones: all seem to be good news at the moment – even the ‘sporty’ ones.
If you still look on the very idea of a ‘performance SUV’ as an unfathomable contradiction in terms, you can plainly consider yourself well out of step with the tastes of those with a generous five-figure budget to lavish on a fast, daily-driven, luxury family car in 2017.
This year, we’ve already seen a new über-powerful version of the Porsche Macan Turbo, the quicker versions of the new Alfa Romeo Stelvio are imminent (along with all the others), and all the while we’re still getting used to the sight of the Maserati Levante, Audi SQ7, Mercedes-AMG GLC43 and Jaguar F-Pace on our roads. They may be variously big, burly, pacy, pricey, noisy, thirsty and mud-loving, but the choice is getting alarmingly wide.
Here comes more of it: the new Audi SQ5, which, this time around, will offer UK buyers the option of three-hundred-and-something-horsepower six-cylinder petrol or diesel engines.
In its first generation, you may remember, this car was Audi’s first production model to be powered by its 3.0-litre BiTDI diesel V6. It was available with a supercharged petrol V6 in other markets, but that version was never offered for sale in the UK.
Rarely a firm to repeat a mistake, Audi has observed that petrol power is no barrier to the success of some of the SQ5’s key competitors and is launching its second SQ5 with the same 349bhp 3.0-litre turbocharged petrol V6 you’ll find in the current S4 and S5, with a diesel version (for European customers only) to follow.
The big question around these parts is whether the inclusion of that petrol engine, and the car’s wider performance makeover, makes this a significantly better driver’s car than the regular Q5.
Although we rated that car for plenty of other reasons, this performance version will have to be a much more engaging prospect if it is going to cut it in this road test.