What is it?
This SQ5 is the hottest version of Ingolstadt’s recently renewed Q5 SUV, providing less weight, slightly more rear seat room, improved powertrains and the latest suite of electronic driver aids.
The petrol V6 is extensively revised from the previous version, which wasn't sold in the UK (only the diesel was available). The supercharger on the old petrol has been traded for a twin-scroll turbocharger, with pre-boost plumbing cutting lag, while Audi’s so-called B cycle valve timing allows for an economy-improving compression ratio increase. In fact, power remains unchanged, but there’s 22lb ft more torque which, along with a 35kg weight reduction, yields a 0.8mpg fuel consumption improvement and a 10g/km fall to 189g/km of CO2 - although, again, that's a comparison to an engine not previously sold in the UK.
The turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol SUV will accelerate from 0-62mph in 5.4sec, and eventually reach an electronically limited top speed of 155mph. Eight automatically selected gears will get you there and, as expected, quattro all-wheel drive dispenses 349bhp and 369lb ft of torque.
Air suspension, variable ratio dynamic steering and a sport differential can be ordered to make better use of its zest, and a V6 diesel SQ5 is on the way. The performance of that engine will provide a more relevant comparison to UK buyers.
What's it like?
Assertively creamy growl, or gently mellifluous gargle? You can hear either in the SQ5. The growl comes off in Dynamic mode, while the gargle is your accompaniment for the rest of the settings.
The growl is not misplaced, as those performance figures attest. Despite that urgent 0-62mph time, the SQ5 doesn’t come over as a machine of super-abundant power, its slick acceleration down to excellent traction as much as solid thrust. It certainly isn’t slow, but the most striking aspect of its dynamic character is refinement, noises from all sources, V6 apart, impressively subdued. That makes the engine’s pleasing tune all the easier to hear.
If your SQ5 comes with the optional dynamic steering you’ll find that occupying your mind too, with the rim’s lack of heft and the system’s often speedy reactions producing a confidence-sapping numbness. The same applies even in Dynamic mode, despite the SQ5’s limited body roll and powerful grip. Our test car also had optional air suspension, but our test route was so smooth that’s it’s impossible to say anything useful about the ride. But even if it is good, the steering diminishes this car’s appeal as a sporting drive.
Passengers will enjoy slightly more knee room and generous head room in the rear, as well as an interior furnished to Audi’s usual impressive standards. Notable detail features include a wireless smartphone-charging mat, an 8.3in infotainment screen and an MMI interface that’s less easy to use than it used to be (and less attractive, too) in the interests of providing an enlarged word-scratching pad of dubious benefit.
Should I buy one?
Around 10% of Q5 customers chose the sporty SQ5 during the life of the first-generation model, amounting to 62,000 sales. This is not an obscure niche model, then, and those wishing to repeat the experience with this second edition will enjoy a slightly roomier and more attractively appointed example that costs a little less to run, comes with more safety features and a more versatile, if less intuitive, infotainment system.
They won’t go any faster – this new SQ5 is actually 0.3sec slower from 0-62mph than the diesel-engined version of its predecessor – and while they’ll enjoy improved dynamics you could not call the tactile experience sporty despite its capabilities. But if that’s less of a priority, this is a rapid SUV that's worth shortlisting.
Location: Munich, Germany On sale: June Price: £51,200 Engine: V6, 2995cc, turbocharged, petrol Power: 349bhp at 5400-6400rpm Torque: 369 lb ft at 1370-4500rpm Gearbox: eight-speed automatic 0-62mph: 5.4sec Kerbweight: 1870kg Top speed: 155mph Economy: 34.0mpg Co2: 189g/km, 34% Rivals: BMW X3, Porsche Macan