Road test: Audi SQ5 force feeds athleticism into modern SUVs
BRAGGING rights are no longer purely a power contest.
Forget the old phrase "there's no replacement for displacement". Nope, nowadays it's all about efficiency. The well-heeled love to talk up their green credentials.
But this latest beast from Audi can talk the torque at the country club and then mix it with the bogans at the front bar.
The Audi SQ5 is the fastest diesel SUV on the planet. It also sips just 6.8 litres per 100km, meaning it even qualifies for a reduced Luxury Car Tax due to its fuel efficiency.
This is a pin-up for modern diesel engineering. Two turbos and a diesel engine wrapped in an SUV shell equals fun mixed with functionality.
This is no plain-Jane mid-size SUV. Don't expect to be blinded by bling or cheesy features; Audi wrote the book on understated athleticism.
With a flat-bottom sports steering wheel, SQ5 stamped on the plush leather seats, carbon-fibre look inserts around the console as well as the doors, along with some refined aluminum sill features, the cabin is polished and well designed.
Like any modern-day Audi, the set-up is easy to use with crisp and clear gauges and buttons.
We really only have two consistent minor complaints - we'd like the air-con fan to have its own dial and the main computer system should scroll with a clockwise turn. Sorry, that's about the best we've got.
The front seats are nicely supportive with some good bolstering and you can fit three adults across the back seat, although two is a better fit.
On the road
Drop the shifter into "drive" and the SQ5 feels burly and strong. Pull it back another notch into "sport" and it's downright raucous.
Raspy tones from the quad exhaust are the early indication of its ability, and when you pull the acceleration trigger there is an unwavering power delivery.
With Audi's Drive Select, where you can choose between modes such as comfort, dynamic and automatic (where it does everything for you), the SUV can hunker down for sporty performance or loosen-up to iron out the bumps.
The sports suspension drops this model 30mm lower than your standard Q5.
With renowned Quattro all-wheel drive it corners, accelerates and hammers like no SUV should.
When you unleash its ability the SQ5 feels every bit as quick as the 0-100km sprint time of 5.1 seconds. That's up there with some of the best sports cars going around.
On our favourite test piece of bitumen this adventurous SUV hit 100kmh and was still pulling like a dentist - some pure sports offerings are puffing at 90kmh.
What do you get?
Given this is nearly $90 grand, it lives up to expectations with a solid list of standard gear. In true prestige style, there is a long list of optional extras to make the car even more individualised - something important to those with coin.
But without ticking any extra boxes, the SQ5 comes with heated electric front seats that have electric lumbar support, sat nav with17.7cm colour display, 20GB hard drive for music storage, DVD player, two memory card slots, voice control system, Nappa leather trim, 20-inch alloys and three-zone climate controlled air con.
Eight airbags, anti-lock brakes and stability control is standard, although gadgets like radar cruise, lane departure and blind spot warning systems cost extra.
Achieving the official average fuel consumption of under seven litres for every 100km needs careful use of the right foot, but not out of the question. We still managed about 700km from a tank with more than 100km left to run.
Insurance may be another story and could take some shopping around, and servicing is at the higher end of the scale although similar to other premium marques.
The boot is a good-size for growing families, and there are some handy nets and rails to keep things in place.
Audi also has a cool range of accessories especially for those who want to carry things like bikes and kayaks on the roof.
There's no gigantic wings or plasticky add-ons, the key differential between this model and the Q5 brethren are small badges and the black brake calipers on the front wheels also featuring the SQ5 moniker.
What matters most
The good stuff: Outstanding performance and sound from the diesel engine, understated external looks, sporting cabin features.
What we'd like to see: Safety gadgets liked radar cruise and blind spot warning standard.
Servicing and warranty: Three year/unlimited kilometre warranty with roadside assist (option to extend). Servicing is every 15,000km or 12 months.
Model: Audi SQ5.
Details: Five-door all-wheel drive mid-size luxury sports utility vehicle.
Engine: 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel generating maximum power of 230kW @ 3900-4500rpm and peak torque of 650Nm @ 1450-2800rpm.
Transmission: Eight-speed triptronic automatic with sport program.
Consumption: 6.8 litres/100km (combined average).
Performance: 0-100kmh in 5.1 seconds; top speed 250kmh.
Towing capacity: 2400kg, tow ball capacity 240kg.
Bottom line: $89,400.