With so many Audi variants you could picture herds of them sweeping majestically across the plain. Yet they are all different. Just like the part-performance car, part-family-ready SUV that is the Audi SQ5. It’s already a firm UK favourite on the strength of its impressively well-rounded appeal. From this week though, its all-new successor retakes its rightful place at the head of the Q5 range offering an even more concentrated dose of that successful formula.
Based around a new and highly sophisticated powertrain incorporating TFSI petrol power for the first time, and enhanced by the many design and technology advances from which the entire Q5 range has benefited, the SQ5 returns with an OTR price of £51,200, and is expected to be with its first UK customers in June.
Charged with propelling 35kg less weight thanks in part to sophisticated new body architecture, the more powerful 340bhp TFSI promises 5.4 second 0-62mph pace in the quattro all-wheel-driven figurehead without ruling out real world fuel efficiency.
The new 3.0L TFSI is the successor to the unit first used by the S4 and S5 performance flagships, and replaces its supercharger with a new twin-scroll turbocharger to deliver even keener and stronger response. This is evident not only in the healthy 340bhp power peak but also in the 369lb.ft (500Nm) of torque which remains available from 1,370rpm right through to 4,500rpm. Audi insist that 34mpg is on the cards with an emission output of 189g/km of CO².
An eight-speed tiptronic transmission complements the powerful yet impressively linear delivery of the V6 with inherently smooth yet fittingly sporting shifts. The lower gears feature short ratios, while the upper gears are long in the interest of fuel conservation. If required the transmission can freewheel as soon as the driver lifts off the accelerator at speeds of between 34mph and 99mph for even greater fuel efficiency.
Being both a Q5 and a member of the Audi ‘S’ series, the SQ5 is naturally quattro all-wheel-drive-equipped. During normal driving, the system distributes power with a slight rear-axle bias, but when necessary it can divert the majority to whichever axle has better traction. It is backed up by wheel-selective torque control, which slightly brakes the inside wheels during faster cornering to tuck the SQ5 into the bend, and then helps to prolong handling neutrality and precision once the car is committed. A sport differential is also available on the options list.
Also controllable via Audi drive select is the electronically regulated ‘S’ suspension, using an adaptive CDC damping (continuous damping control) setup. This system allows the driver to adapt damper response to suit the driving situation, offering a more compliant setting for everyday cruising and a tauter and more dynamic mode for faster, more challenging driving.
Body and exterior design
The bumpers up front and in the rear are complemented by more strongly contoured, S-specific air inlets and a diffuser with a honeycomb grille. Another S-specific feature is the radiator grille with double aluminium slats and contrasting trim elements in matt twilight grey. The S logo with red rhombus is used in numerous locations to set additional accents.
LED technology is standard for all lighting functions, including the Audi Beam which projects the four rings logo onto the ground using LEDs when the doors are opened. Illuminated door sills also bear exclusive S logos. High beam assist is also factory fitted. The dynamic indicators ensure a high recognition factor.
Matrix LED headlights are optionally available, featuring a special Q signature and adding dynamic indicators at the front. In profile, aluminium-look exterior mirrors and door trim strips finished in the body colour underscore the model’s design. The rear bumper houses the S-specific twin exhaust tailpipes of the dual-branch exhaust system and an aluminium diffuser clasp.
Contrasting stitching on the leather steering wheel and sport seats create a dynamic and elegant ambiance. The S sport seats are upholstered in fine Nappa leather with diamond stitching and are electrically adjustable. Matt brushed aluminium inlays are standard and an exclusive carbon inlay is optionally available. Aluminium-look shift paddles enable the driver to quickly shift the tiptronic’s gears. The pedals and footrest are finished in stainless steel.
The standard rear seat bench plus in the new Audi SQ5 is split into three segments. Depending on the position of the rear seat bench, the luggage compartment has a standard capacity of 500 to 610 litres. When the rear bench is folded down, this volume grows to 1,550 litres.
Infotainment and Audi connect
As standard, the SQ5 TFSI is fitted with the top-of-the-line MMI navigation plus infotainment system with MMI all-in-touch and an 8.3-inch display. The system recognises handwritten input as well as touch gestures familiar from consumer electronics, such as zoom. One element is Audi connect, which connects the new SQ5 to the internet via LTE. Audi connect enables convenient roaming in Europe for many connected infotainment services with its permanently installed SIM card – the Audi connect SIM with a flat data rate. A 36-month subscription is included as standard.
With the package “Audi connect safety & Service”, customers receive help automatically or at the push of a button via the emergency call and online roadside assistance services in the event of an accident or breakdown.
Furthermore, users can easily lock and unlock the SQ5 via the MMI connect app on their smartphones. Customers can also check vehicle’s status and use additional services such as Car Finder and information about the next service appointments or warning messages. The MMI operating logic is based on the flat hierarchies used in today’s smartphones, and it offers such features as intelligent free-text search. The natural-language voice control function also recognises inputs from everyday speech.
Serving as an additional third operating level in the new Audi SQ5 is the leather-covered multifunction steering wheel. Audi can deliver a newly developed head-up display as an option. It projects relevant information onto the windscreen – including from driver assistance systems – as symbols and numbers that can be easily seen.
One proven option is the excellent Audi virtual cockpit. It displays all key information in razor-sharp graphics on its 12.3-inch monitor. Views available to the driver include an S-specific sport mode centred around the rev counter.
The Audi phone box, another optional feature, connects the smartphone to the on-board antenna by near-field coupling and simultaneously charges it inductively using the Qi standard. There’s a bang & Olufsen sound system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto installed.
Driver assistance systems
The new Audi SQ5 also picks up the driver assistance systems from the broad, high-tech portfolio of the Audi Q5. The predictive efficiency assistant provides specific driving tips to helps the driver save fuel. Adaptive cruise control (ACC) including traffic jam assist can handle some of the steering work in slow-moving traffic. Audi active lane assist makes it easier to stay in lane. Distance warning alerts the driver when the distance to a vehicle drops below a safe distance.
Cross traffic assist rear, the exit warning system, collision avoidance assist and turn assist are other new features for safety in everyday traffic. The same is true for the pre-sense systems: Audi pre sense city is standard. The system warns the driver about pedestrians and vehicles, and initiates automatic emergency braking within system limits. Park assist, the camera-based recognition of traffic signs and hill descent control round out the features of the Audi SQ5.