AUDI SQ5: understated mix of power and efficiency

IT’S a measure of how understated Audi’s SQ5 is that you can totally miss the fact there’s one parked right alongside in your hotel car park.

Not afraid to admit I did, because it’s not a car that shouts ‘oi, look at me’ as you walk past. It is one that is distinctive though – the big grille and trademark Audi four rings will draw your eye in recognition, and so will the chunky shape you’ve come to appreciate over the years.

It’s a car for those who still hanker after their need for speed from earlier days but are now shouldered with more compelling family commitments.

Hooked up to an eight speed tiptronic box, there’s a seamless, smooth, rush of power from the 3.0 litre V6 diesel – yet it can, if you can resist the temptation to flatten the carpet, return around the 43mpg mark on a run.

There’s a delicious burble as it bursts into life and the assorted gases splutter out of the big twin exhaust pipes, hinting at its performance, but its ability to successfully mix power with fuel efficiency is commendable.

It looks very much the same as earlier versions with its distinctive lines, but the bits you can’t see include stronger steel pistons, an upgraded turbocharger system and suspension that’s firmer and 30mm lower than the standard Q5. It helps to give it a somewhat pothole-banishing ride.Inside, the electrically adjustable sport seats come with red Nappa leather trim and feature embossed S logos and contrasting stitching.

Vorsprung trim also gives you a head-up display, Bang & Olufsen sound system, and a panoramic glass sunroof. There’s so much equipment and technology packed inside that it could probably tell you what your dog had for dinner on Easter Sunday 10 years ago….

You shouldn’t need me to tell you how efficient Audi’s quattro system is – technology that has been successfully transposed from the world rally successes of the 1980s to the road going platforms of all cars in the Audi range today.

It make sense here, because driving all four wheels is probably the most realistic way of getting the prodigious power developed by the 3.0 litre V6 safely through the wheels to the road. Certainly came into its own on a very wet trip north of the border, proving what an exceptionally comfortable motorway mile mncher it can be.

A journey the SQ5 accomplished well in excess of its published  mpg figure. I think, for a car of this stature, that demands a gentle ripple of applause.

There’s no doubting the car is comfortable on the road and it has that impeccable attention to detail on the interior that has become something of an Igolstadt hallmark and now expected on every new model as they arrive.An interior so well insulated from all that’s going on around you that there’s barely a hint of the industrial scale violence going on under the bonnet as you romp along.

It gives you all the advantages of a versatile SUV with the road dynamics of a car. And while it drives very much like a car, it comes with that commanding view of the road that you just don’t get from anything that hasn’t got big wheels.

They don’t come much more Premium for those not prepared to sacrifice quality and the cachet of a prestige badge on the driveway.


Audi SQ5 Vorsprung TDI tiptronic

Price: £74,175 (£76,310 as tested)
Engine: 3.0 litre, six cylinder, diesel
Power: 336bhp
Torque: 516lb/ft
Transmission: 8 speed tiptronic
Top speed: 155mph
0-62mph: 5.1 seconds
Economy: 33.6mpg
CO2 emissions: 221g/km

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