The Audi Q5 can be a bit too obvious a choice for middle income premium car buyers. The five-seat five-door Q5 ticks a lot of boxes but is a little too bland for enthusiasts to get excited about… enter the SQ5!
Any Audi with an S in its name commands interest as it marks that particular German machine out as one more focussed on delivering higher levels of performance. A standard Audi Q5 for all its ‘vorsprung durch technik’ is still a very swift machine designed for German life and the inevitable high speed autobahn work but for day to day driving a Q5 is so competent – its dull!
The SQ5 is beautifully subtle sitting just 30mm lower to the road than a standard Q5 and is a real stealthy bit of kit. Large alloys and red brake callipers are the most noticeable performance indicators until you get to the car’s rear where the exhaust system is not going to get you on to Greta Thunberg’s Christmas card list. The nice thing is you can drive the 1,870kg SQ5 at any pace you want. It doesn’t strain at the leash as some performance cars do, but when you provoke it, it can really hustle.
Inside subtle diamond nappa leather seats add to the premium/sporty experience alongside a few other sporty touches to lift an otherwise predictably dull, albeit premium interior to another level. The SQ5 like the Q5 remains at its core a functional family car with a 510 litre boot (expandable to 1,510 litres) – its just a whole lot nicer to drive. Throw in the optional B&O sound system and spending time in the SQ5 becomes truly joyous.
The SQ5 comes with a more sporty suspension set up and an engine tuned for performance. The figures say it all: 347hp and 700nm power its all wheel drive ‘Quattro’ powertrain from 0-100km/h in just 5.1 seconds… in ca car that is quick but in an SUV it feels even quicker. So what is this engine powered by petrol? In certain markets yes, but in Ireland we get diesel power only. At the SQ5’s heart is a turbocharged V6 3 litre TDI with a 48 volt mild hybrid system. Diesels have not been traditionally used in sporty Audis (LeMan LMP Audis being the exception) but in the SQ5 the unit makes a lot of sense. Lift off the accelerator anywhere between 55-160km/h and the car regenerates electricity in to its rechargeable battery pack. The mild hybrid also allows the SQ5 switch off and coast for up to 40 seconds at a time to reduce fuel consumption. The SQ5’s electric compressor improves low end engine response and makes for more instant urge on paper. We did find a little initial throttle lag though but once the power kicks in the SQ5 can make the horizon rapidly appear. The exhaust has a sound generator to accompany the natural bark from the engine and the faux V8-like soundtrack is quite pleasing under power. You can switch it off for longer journeys or have it permanently on using the ‘individual’ drive mode setting – of course I did! The SQ5 is an eight-speed auto with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.
On the road the SQ5 with its standard fit multi-link ‘Sport’ suspension (with active dampers) feels precise and nimble and is a lot of fun to drive across a variety of speeds. There are a host of options you can add to really trick up your SQ5 such as; air suspension, Audi’s variable dynamic steering system and rear axle sports differential. The SQ5’s set up feels utterly sorted and behind the wheel you feel content and assured. Turn in is excellent and the level of grip available from the Quattro system is truly impressive.
Rivals include the Mercedes-AMG GLC 43, Jaguar F-Pace S, Porsche Macan and BMW X3 M40i. The Audi SQ5 starts from €88,820. Our test car had a few options: 21 inch alloys €2,603, multi-coloured ambient lighting €235, wireless phone charging €588, pre-sense basic €420.83, tour pack €1,997, Virtual Cockpit €839, red brake callipers €553, Comfort Key €957.55, flat bottomed leather sports steering wheel €193, panoramic glass sunroof €2,501 piano black inlays €352, privacy glass €806 a rear-view camera at €757 and ‘Daytona’ paint at €1,521. Our test car total €101,622.
Thorsten Godulla, Managing Director, Audi Ireland said “At Audi Ireland we want to continue to offer Irish drivers more choice and we are delighted to announce the SQ5 TDI is now available to order in Ireland. This is a really exciting model to introduce to the Irish market as it boasts a powerful engine with a mild hybrid system which enhances efficiency. This new model displays the innovative and dynamic features for which Audi is renowned for”.