AUDI SQ5 TDI: Le Mans bred for le man in town….

THERE was an air of inevitability about this happening, given Audi’s mastery of diesel propulsion and the company’s growing trophy cabinet with its Le Mans successes.

And now it’s here – the Audi SQ5 TDI, the very first S model with a diesel engine.

But no ordinary diesel engine of course. What we’ve got here is a bi-turbo TDI V6 with a staggering 650Nm of torque and 313ps, the smaller of the two turbochargers effectively backing up the bigger one so there is a distinct lack of the dreaded turbo lag. Or in this case, none whatsoever to speak of.

Hooked up to a tiptronic box, there’s a seamless, smooth, rush of power to an electronically limited 155mph – yet it can, if you pussyfoot around, return over 41mpg. It’s perceived wisdom that fuel consumption is becoming more important than before, even in the SUV market, so the ability to mix power with fuel efficiency is the way forward. Take a bow, SQ5…

Audi know a thing or two about four wheel drive in road cars , as they’ve been pioneering it since 1980, and it make sense here, because driving all four wheels is probably the only realistic way of getting the prodigious power developed by the 3.0 litre V6 safely through the wheels to the road.

It sits 30mm lower than a standard Q5 on its exclusive S sports suspension and its wheel arches are more than adequately filled by its 20 inch five spoke alloys. It brings the package lower to the road and gives it a more purposeful and aggressive stance. It makes a distinctive car even more distinctive.

Front and rear there are S model bumpers, an S model radiator grille and a rear diffuser. In a line up of 5s, there’s no mistaking the quick one.

The handling is surprisingly nimble, but even the addition drive select with its choice of Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and Efficiency modes can’t mask the fact that the ride is ‘firm’ on the majority of our UK roads. Find a nice stretch of smooth motorway – like you do abroad – and the SQ5 settles down nicely, only to get a bit pitter-patterly when A and B roads appear again.

Smooth shifts through the eight speed tiptronic gearbox accompany your foot commands and make the car feel sprightlier than you might reasonably expect, and the electromechanical steering keep you nicely in control.

Typical of an S model from Audi, the spacious interior is predominantly black, but the standard of fit and finish is to such a high standard the initial sombreness of the cabin is quickly forgotten – especially when the optional panoramic sunroof does its bit and lets loads of sunshine cascade in.

Nappa leather upholstered sports seats, which are electrically adjustable, brushed aluminium trim inlays, a 180 watt sound system, 6.5 inch monitor, Bluetooth and a decent list of other standard kit are yours for the asking price of £44,055, when it goes on sale on May 15 in the UK

And you needn’t worry about the noise it’ll make either. There’s a sound actuator in the exhaust which in Audi speak ‘blurs the diesel/petrol boundaries’, and it certainly gives the exhaust note a more gruff edge when you open the taps. Music to the ears of a petrolhead.

AT A GLANCE: Audi SQ5 TDI; £44,055; 2967cc V6 diesel, 313ps, 650Nm; quattro permanent all wheel drive; stop-start system; eight speed tiptronic gearbox; top speed 155mph, 0-62mph 5.1 secs; Fuel (75 litre tank) – urban 37.2, extra urban 44.1, combined 41.5; CO2 179g/km; Will it fit the garage? 4644/1911/1624 (l/w/h).

© Wheelwrite 17-04-13

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