The Macan Turbo was a sub-5.0sec-to-60mph prospect even before Porsche got around to adding the Performance Pack’s extra 40 horses, and our timing gear has already revealed that Mercedes-AMG is right to claim something beginning with a ‘4’ for its new GLC43.
The mid-sized performance SUV is clearly getting quicker. And that’s the backdrop against which Audi is pushing this SQ5 out into the limelight – unfortunately, with a quiet admission that the new SQ5’s petrol engine isn’t quite as potent as the old car’s BiTDI motor was, and so we can expect the new car to be 0.3sec slower to 62mph than the one we Brits have just waved goodbye to. It’s not the most auspicious start for any performance machine.
The SQ5 feels brisk and what its engine gains relative to that of the outgoing car in terms of combustive range and audible richness may well be worth more to some people than what it has lost in outright torque. Still, this Audi isn’t about to blow anyone’s mind with its outright pace. It’s a car with a familiar mix of speed, flexibility and refinement that you’ll find in most modern Audi S-badged cars, engineered to give up the last fraction of the dynamism it might have had in return for a healthy dose of luxuriousness.
With Comfort mode on the Drive Select controller, the SQ5 has a silken side that you just don’t expect of a car of its ilk riding on 21in alloy wheels and low-profile tyres. Wind and road noise are very thoroughly suppressed and the exhaust noise dialled down to the level of a distantly sweet hum.
Depart from that mode, cycling through Auto and into Dynamic, and you may wonder what has happened to the reserved V6 you were previously listening to – because the SQ5’s audio speakers start filtering greater and greater levels of ‘engine sound modulation’ into the cabin.
It ultimately becomes sufficiently loud and contrived that few could mistake it for authentic engine noise. And once you’ve recognised it for what it is, there’s no way back.
The car’s Individual driving mode allows you to deactivate the annoyance while keeping other systems in a more sporting state – but what’s missing, of course, is the genuinely soulful warble of a great petrol V6, the promise of which could conceivably have motivated you to chop in your old diesel SQ5 in the first place.
The SQ5’s eight-speed automatic gearbox is suited to it very well for the most part. It’s smooth and quick-shifting and its control logic works as well to deliver a sporting edge in ‘S’ mode as it does relaxed progress in ‘D’.