Audi’s SQ5 arrives as a performance SUV with an eye on refinement

Since 2019 Audi has seen diesel power as the ideal fit for its SQ5 performance SUV In fairness, save for a short V6 petrol blip in its middle generation, the SQ5 has always favoured the fuel from the back pump. Despite its wavering popularity, diesel remains a go-to choice for many people – mostly those who travel long distances – and it’s at these drivers towards which the SQ5 is directly targeted. Now, there’s an updated one which brings a host of new features.

As well as mild-hybrid assistance, Audi has included the usual range of tweaks to the SQ5’s styling and interior to ensure it stays fresh both inside and out.

As we’ve already mentioned the largest change here is the adoption of a diesel engine and it’s much the same as the one you’ll find in the latest S4 and S5. The fitment of mild-hybrid technology is the big change here, while the styling tweaks made have ensured that this latest SQ5 follows in the family appearances, with a full-width intake-style design at the front mirroring that found on cars ranging from the R8 to A1.

Photos: PA Media

The cabin now features Audi’s very latest infotainment setup, while a greater level of standard equipment means that the SQ5 has more of a focus on value, too.

As we’ve already highlighted, the SQ5 uses diesel power. It’s a punchy unit, all turbocharged three-litre V6 of it, bringing a healthy 336bhp and 700Nm of torque. Driven to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox, it’s got enough power to send the SQ5 from 0-60mph in 4.9 seconds and onwards to a top speed of 155mph.

Audi also claims 34.4mpg – though we saw slightly above this during our time with the car – as well as CO2 emissions of 215g/km.

The SQ5 feels like it was made for long journeys. With that buttery V6 under the bonnet, it saunters at a cruise and feels genuinely refined. There’s acceleration whenever you need it, of course, with the deep reserves of torque easily accessible at nearly all speeds. Audi has really ironed out the creases with its gearbox, too, which in previous models has felt downright disconnected from the car as a whole. In this SQ5, there’s very little delay between pressing the pedal and getting the result you want.

The ride feels a touch over-firm at lower speeds and can give a slightly unsettled feel to the car as a whole, but gain some momentum and this becomes less apparent. Through some clever sound wizardry, the SQ5 also brings a burbling V8-esque soundtrack too which, despite not being all that authentic, is quite exciting.

Audi’s range of ‘S’ models have always exhibited the kind of styling restraint that allows them to slip beneath the radar and the SQ5 is no different. Sure, this update has brought quad exhaust pipes over the odd silver diffuser found on the older model, but it’s still a very understated affair. The chrome grille does add some premium finish, while subtle badging is found at the front and rear.

It’s still recognisable as a Q5, mind you, which is no surprise given that this refresh still relies heavily on the looks of its forbear. The small tweaks which have been made do help to keep things fresh, mind you.

Though the SQ5 doesn’t get the twin-screen setup found on models like the Q7 and Q8, its cabin still doesn’t feel lacking in tech. But it’s the quality that shines through here, with a healthy use of high-end materials throughout ensuring that the interior of the SQ5 feels built to last. The front seats – which feature a massage function – are comfortable, while the well-cushioned chairs in the rear should ensure that back-seat passengers don’t feel short-changed.

In terms of boot space, there are 510 litres to play with when the rear seats are in place, rising to 1,510 litres when you fold them down. It’s a reasonably well-sized area, with a low load lip making accessing the space a little easier.

Sitting as one of the top cars in the Q5 range means that the SQ5 benefits from plenty of standard equipment. All cars ride on 20-inch alloy wheels, while Matrix LED headlights are included too. Inside, the SQ5 uses a 10.1-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay connectivity, flanked by a 12.3-inch virtual cockpit display behind the wheel which can be configured to show a variety of different readouts.

This latest generation SQ5 feels like it’s really getting into its stride. Though diesel might be under the microscope at the moment, it’s a great fit for this SUV as it brings great levels and refinement and efficiency which, if you’re doing big miles, is just what you want.

Though the cabin architecture might be feeling a touch behind the times now, the SQ5 is a great proposition for those who are after an SUV with generous performance but with very few drawbacks.

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