What is it?
The SQ5 Sportback heads a whole new model line-up from Audi, bringing with it the same mild-hybrid diesel drivetrain and other key mechanical components, including a specially tuned sport suspension, as the recently facelifted SQ5.
Conceived to rival the likes of the BMW X4 M40d and Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupé in a growing market segment for what Audi likes to describe as “performance-related crossover utility vehicles,” the new Mexican-built SUV forgoes the upright rear of the SQ5 for an arguably more stylish arrangement, with a coupé-like look similar to that of the electric E-tron Sportback.
Included in the makeover is a more heavily sloping roof and a large liftback-style tailgate – elements that clearly provide the new Audi with a more rakish appearance than the SQ5.
They’re not the only distinguishing features, though. Up front, the SQ5 Sportback receives its own unique honeycomb style grille, while the rear receives reshaped OLED tail-lights whose graphic alters in appearance when the driver selects the most sporting of the seven driving modes: Dynamic.
While other markets, including the US, are offered the SQ5 Sportback with a turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine, UK versions receive the turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 diesel already found in the SQ5.
It's combined with a 48V electric system that supports an electrically powered compressor (the EPC in Audi speak) that spools up at light throttle loads when the exhaust gas driven boost pressure is insufficient to fully activate the engine’s single turbocharger to reduce lag and strengthen step-off performance. Once the turbocharger is spinning at normal speeds, the EPC shuts down.
There’s also a mild-hybrid system included in the 48V system. It uses an alternator starter motor connected to the crankshaft to recuperate up to 12kW of electric energy under braking and on periods of trailing throttle – all of which is stored in a battery under the boot floor.
It's then used to power various systems throughout the car, reducing load on the engine for savings in consumption and lower emissions. It also enables a coasting function; the engine is shut down whenever it can in Efficiency mode.
Power is put at 336bhp, with torque building to 516lb ft between 1750 and 3250rpm. By comparison, the X4 M40d’s turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder engine delivers 349bhp and 501lb ft, while the GLC 350d 4Matic Coupé’s turbocharged 3.0-litre six-pot powerplant kicks out 254bhp and 457lb ft.
Drive is channeled through a standard eight-speed torque-converter gearbox and Audi’s Torsen quattro four-wheel drive system. Together, they provide a nominal front-to-rear drive split of 40:60, although Audi says up to 70% of drive can be transferred to the front or 85% to the rear, depending on prevailing traction.
Additionally, there’s an ABS-based torque-control system across the axles; it brakes a wheel that lacks for grip and/or traction and redirects drive to the one with greater purchase.