Audi SQ5

Ma­can hunter swal­lows S4’s stonk­ing turbo V6

Motor (Australia) - - FIRST FANG -

THERE’S a time and place for a diesel per­for­mance car, but damned if we want to be there if there’s a petrol ver­sion go­ing beg­ging. And that has just be­come the case with Audi’s new­gen­er­a­tion SQ5 per­for­mance SUV.

Wildly pop­u­lar in its pre­vi­ous it­er­a­tion as an ex­clu­sively diesel model, Audi will now of­fer the SQ5 with the same twin-scroll, sin­gle-turbo 3.0litre V6 as first seen in the new S4. It’s belt­ing out a solid 260kW and 500Nm and, in the SQ5’s case, is shift­ing

1945kg – not a crazy amount. That’s thanks, in part, to a big ef­fort by Audi to re­move weight from its new Q5, with a 130kg diet to show for its ef­forts.

Step­ping into the smartly styled, high-rid­ing Audi you are blown away yet again by the new gen­er­a­tion of In­gol­stadt in­te­ri­ors, with more ma­te­ri­als than you can count and bristling with stan­dard tech­nol­ogy like the new Vir­tual Cock­pit. Fire it up and there’s a muted growl which turns to a po­lite bel­low as you boot it. The SQ5 ac­cel­er­ates to 100km/h in a fuss-free 5.4 sec­onds thanks to its qu­at­tro all-wheel drive sys­tem and re­spon­sive eight-speed torque con­verter au­to­matic. Mean­while the chunky, 350mm front brakes with six­pot calipers pull up the big Audi eas­ily on the road with lit­tle pedal ef­fort.

And we could al­most con­clude the re­view there. How does it go up a tight and twisty road? Not re­ally sure, be­cause Audi chose to launch the

SQ5 on al­most ex­clu­sively straight 100km/h coun­try roads be­tween Mel­bourne and Ade­laide. Which is a shame be­cause, on one lit­tle ex­cur­sion of twisty dirt road along the way, the new-gen­er­a­tion SQ5 felt great – poised and bal­anced, even ad­justable, if not big on com­mu­ni­ca­tion, which is to be ex­pected. It was even a bit fun.

In­stead we can talk at length about the SQ5 on Aussie coun­try roads and we know enough to say, for the love of god, get the $2150 op­tional air sus­pen­sion. Without it, the stan­dard adap­tive dampers of­fer min­i­mal dif­fer­ence be­tween Com­fort and Dy­namic, and the ride in Dy­namic on the op­tional air sus­pen­sion is nicer than the stan­dard dampers in Com­fort. It’s sur­pris­ingly busy.

You should also con­sider the $2950 sport dif­fer­en­tial if you re­ally wanted an RS3 but are un­ex­pect­edly in the mar­ket for a pram, as although we can’t say how it might change the SQ5’s per­son­al­ity, our ex­pe­ri­ence with the S4 is that it’s money well spent.

We’ll pos­si­bly have an­other stab at the new SQ5 at a later date for a de­fin­i­tive han­dling ver­dict. But as it stands, the new en­gine is a peach, it’s chocka-block full of stan­dard equip­ment, has a lovely in­te­rior and goes rea­son­ably hard. This is no hot hatch on stilts – at least, not that we can tell so far – but rep­re­sents a fan­tas­tic all-rounder if you must have the high driv­ing po­si­tion and badge on the front, with a lit­tle ex­tra over­tak­ing mus­cle to flex.

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