Fast and cu­ri­ous

A per­for­mance SUV is one thing. But a diesel? Un­der $100K?

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Car News -

TAKE a pres­tige SUV, fet­tle it with Audi’s Le Mans-win­ning diesel ex­per­tise and add vol­ume in the form of an ex­haust sound­track. The re­sult is the SQ5, a blis­ter­ingly quick ve­hi­cle with bet­ter han­dling and ac­cel­er­a­tion than just about any SUV can de­liver.

That it does it with a twin­turbo diesel and of­fi­cial fuel con­sump­tion of 6.8L/100km shows how hard the Eu­ro­peans are work­ing on oil-burn­ers. That it does it for less than $90,000 shows how hard the four-ringed brand is try­ing.

VALUE

The first 60 cars into Aus­tralia have been fit­ted with a Launch Edi­tion pack that adds top-spec bling to an al­ready im­pres­sive pack­age. It in­cludes 21-inch al­loys in place of the reg­u­lar 20s, dy­namic steer­ing, adap­tive head­lights, Bang and Olufsen sound sys­tem and heated seats for $104,130. Af­ter they’re sold, SQ5s will cost $89,400. This buys xenon head­lamps, tri­zone cli­mate-con­trol, elec­tric tail­gate and voice-con­trolled in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem. Dy­namic steer­ing adds $2400.

TECH­NOL­OGY

The reg­u­lar Q5 3.0 TDI isn’t short of par­lour tricks but the SQ5 moves that along more than a bit. Its 3.0-litre twin­turbo diesel, shared with the A6 and A7, gives the SUV a 0-100km/h time of 5.1 sec­onds — bet­ter than most hi-po petrol SUVs— mak­ing this the quick­est diesel soft-roader in mass pro­duc­tion.

It rides 30mm lower than the Q5 to drop the cen­tre of grav­ity, has wider front and rear tracks for added pur­chase, big­ger front brakes and stiffer sus­pen­sion. Power is de­liv­ered to all four wheels via an eight-speed auto. Audi doesn’t yet have a du­al­clutch to han­dle 650Nm.

The SQ5, like many per­for­mance ri­vals, uses speak­ers in the rear muf­flers to ‘‘ en­hance’’ the sound of the engine. It re­places diesel clat­ter with a gruff and oc­ca­sion­ally sonorous tune but is the auto equiv­a­lent of house mu­sic.

DE­SIGN

Hor­i­zon­tal grille slats in the deep Audi grille are the ob­vi­ous pointer to the SQ5 front-on, com­pared to the ver­ti­cal slats in the Q5 mod­els. Al­loy-look side mir­ror fin­ishes and the quad ex­hausts at the back are the other cues, while the flat­bot­tomed steer­ing wheel gives away the fact this isn’t an or­di­nary SUV.

SAFETY

This is a bet­ter-stop­ping vari­ant of the Q5 on which ANCAP has al­ready be­stowed five stars. A pair of side cur­tain bal­loons for the rear brings the airbag count to eight and an ad­vanced sta­bil­ity con­trol

CRAIG DUFF craig.duff@cars­guide.com.au

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