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