The SQ5’s driving experience confirms the same impression we got from the S5 Coupé: that it’s Audi’s intention with its modern breed of S-badged models to produce cars that are luxurious, inclusive, accessible and exciting.

To that list you can, of course, add ‘versatile’ and ‘capable’ where this particular newbie SUV is concerned.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
Steering filters out the influence of the transmission bumps, but that ultimately means you’re getting less feedback than you might be

And, just as the S5 did, the SQ5 leaves you with the sense that such a long and diverse list of dynamic qualities remains, even in 2017, a lot to expect of any new performance car; and that if Audi asked for less, it would probably get more.

Our test car had the optional air suspension and sport differential fitted, but did without active-ratio Dynamic Steering. Wider experience of Audi products would have suggested that our test car’s set-up may well be the optimal mechanical specification, and the SQ5’s generally quiet and composed ride, good body control, strong and stable grip level and broadly intuitive and natural-feeling steering bear that out.

With the Drive Select mode in Auto, the SQ5’s ride mixes compliance and control well and the car corners fluently and with decent precision. Comfort mode is useful in town and for laid-back long-distance covering.

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Dynamic mode feels overblown. It makes the car’s steering become leaden but filters no more than a semblance of load or contact patch feel through the rim, and it makes the car’s ride become over-damped and unsettled. Simply put, you don’t need it: the Audi’s body control is at its best on the road in Auto mode, and its steering likewise.

But even in Auto mode, the SQ5’s propensity to constantly remodel its driving experience depending on your prevailing speed and driving style can be a touch troubling. Turn into a bend at 40mph and you’ll find quite a different amount of steering weight than if you turn in at 70mph, for example.

It’s hard to build trust in a car whose primary control interfaces seem so changeable – and that limits the amount of enjoyment you can take in driving it.

When you do find the confidence to throw the SQ5 around, it responds with a creditable sort of agility and fun factor — although you can tell that Audi wasn’t aiming to outdo the Porsche Macan or Jaguar F-Pace with its handling.

The car has good stability and although it lacks the directional incisiveness and the steering feedback you’d like for a really committed corner entry, you can maintain a high cornering speed so long as you accept some initial understeer.

You can push through it and neutralise the car’s attitude with the application of power, making it feel more adjustable and engaging mid-corner than the car’s other dynamic traits might have led you to expect.

But you can never forget the SQ5’s height or bulk, or drive it like a two-seater in the same way you can a Macan, and you don’t get the same sense of balance and sweetness from its handling as you do from an F-Pace.

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