Audi has added sporting garnish to the Q5’s cabin in similar ways as it did in transforming the Q7 into the SQ7, but it has created a marginally less stunning interior here.

Although classy, our test car’s mix of grey leathers, grey Alcantara trims and carbonfibre fillets produced a slightly gloomy cabin ambience made only slightly more special-feeling by the inclusion of Audi’s quilted sports seats and sports pedals.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
Credit to Audi for the sliding back seats but they don’t seem to liberate much leg room. When ‘sitting behind myself’ as it were, my knees are on the front seatback even with the back ones slid fully aft

Audi does offer lighter grey leather, and a choice of brushed aluminium or piano black inlays – and it’s clearly worth taking time to consider the trim options.

Whereas the bigger SQ7’s perceived quality lands on your senses like a heavyweight jab, the SQ5’s is less pervasive. This looks and feels like an expensive interior almost everywhere – with its sophisticated Virtual Cockpit digital instruments, its solid and smooth switchgear and its gleaming precision applications of satin chrome in particular.

And yet there are also places where it falls short of Audi’s singularly high standards on material finish. One tester observed that the car’s roll-top looked more shiny and felt more hard than he expected, and likewise the tops of the interior door panels; another tester felt the cabin air vents look strangely plain.

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There were no complaints about the driving position, which is as lofty and semi-recumbent as that of most traditional SUVs – and so quite unlike that of Porsche’s Macan.

The driver’s seat is firm and well bolstered but comfortable, offering extendable under-thigh support, cushion height and cushion angle adjustment to serve up the perfect tailored driving position.

In the rear, passenger space is good, although not exceptional. Our test car’s optional panoramic glass sunroof ate into head room somewhat, leaving enough for adults of average height but no more, and both leg room and cushion length also left a little to be desired for occupants over 6ft 2in.

To be fair to Audi, we’re at the more compact end of the SUV class here and some compromise on cabin space is to be expected. Compared with the Macan, the SQ5 is limo-like in its rear-quarters accommodation – and it beats both the Macan and the F-Pace we measured on front-row head room, available boot width and boot loading height.

The SQ5 offers what’s undoubtedly the best infotainment set-up available in this particular market niche. You get Audi’s 8.3in MMI Navigation Plus set-up as standard and have to pay extra to get Bang & Olufsen surround audio, Virtual Cockpit instruments, a head-up display and a wireless phone charger — but none is expensive enough to warrant avoiding it.

We’re docking the car half a star on this score because whereas other Audis allow you to fold away the central screen when you want to, the SQ5 doesn’t (and neither does the S4 or S5), but there’s very little to complain about otherwise.

The car’s navigation mapping is excellent, its route programming fast and effective and its traffic monitoring also very useful. Should you want to use Apple CarPlay to follow the navigation system onyour phone while double-checking against the fitted sat nav in the Virtual Cockpit, you can.

The car’s optional Bang & Olufsen 3D surround audio system (19 speakers, 755W) is very good indeed.

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