Audi SQ519 | 06 | 2015Scotcars rating

    Audi takes its 3.0TDI V6 Q5 SUV, gives it the 'S' treatment, and creates an absolute cracker

    "SORRY JIM, THE 2.0TDI Q5 we'd planned for the drive down to Le Mans isn't available now. Would you be happy to take an SQ5?" After rubbing by eyes a bit, and pinching myself a couple of times, I emailed the Audi press office straight back: "Yeh, I think I can cope with that."

    The Audi SQ5 is, let me say right from the start, an absolute stonker. It's brilliant. Not only was it the first ‘S’ version of one of Audi’s SUVs, it was also the first diesel model deemed worthy of joining the performance sub-brand.

    And it's got mighty performance. Squeezed under the bonnet is the same twin-turbocharged 308bhp 3.0-litre V6 TDI engine found in the A6 and A7. Plus, Audi engineers have carried out a suitable dynamic retuning of the standard Q5’s suspension.

    Sitting 30mm lower than the standard Q5, and boasting firmed-up springs and anti-roll bars, plus new, stiffer fixed-rate dampers, it catapults from 0-62mph in 5.1secs and carries on to an electronically-restricted max of 155mph. Naturally, the SQ5 comes with Audi's iconic quattro four-wheel drive.

    The engine is an absolute dream. Marrying its deep urge to perform with a hearty burble, the SQ5 delivers serious real world performance. That performance is enhanced by using a smaller turbocharger at low engine speeds to improve response and then a larger one to supply the motor’s voracious appetite for boost at higher speeds.

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    The fact the jaw-dropping performance for the SUV is delivered seamlessly via the standard-fit eight-speed torque converter tiptronic auto, supplemented by an ace paddleshift, simply makes the car feel even faster. Whereas other supercars — and yes, I'd slip the SQ5 into the supercar bracket — require multiple downshifts to deliver the levels of overtaking performance which will pin you back into your seat, the SQ5 achieves it simply by applying pressure through your right foot.

    Naturally, Audi's ‘Drive Select’ system allows you to vary the system between ‘comfort’ — which is brilliant for when you're simply cruising the autoroute, with cruise control set so as not to attract the attention of the gendarme — and ‘sport’ modes, for when you find your favourite, quiet B-road.

    There's plenty of grip when the SQ5 is hurried cross-country, and thanks to the new dampers, the ride quality is decent and body control is good.

    And it's frugal. Ok, much of my drive was on autoroute, but I did have the odd blast when I got back to the UK. But over the 451 miles I covered, I averaged 39.7mpg which, for a 'supercar', is definitely appealing.

    Related: Roadtest — Audi Q7 3.0TDI quattro (2015)

    Inside the cabin, the leather-covered sports seats are sensational and it oozes all that is best in Audi styling and engineering: quality, richness and space. And I never tire of Audi's flat-bottomed steering wheels.

    Audi's infotainment system remains one of the best in the industry, and having the excellent and simple-to-use satnav — included in the £1695 optional Technology Pack, which includes MMI Navigation System Plus, Audi Music Interface and Audi parking System Plus — is well worth the investment.

    Other options fitted to the test car included heated front and rear seats (£460), power-operated tailgate (£385), Bang & Olufsen sound system (£535), adaptive lights (£330), advanced key (£470), storage pack (£125) and Audi hill-hold assist (£65) helped swell the SQ5's standard price of an attractive £43,725 to £49,580.

    In the SQ5, Audi has created an SUV which combines the versatility of a family-sized offroader with the performance of supercar, while also maintaining its class-leading levels of luxury. It's fab.

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    Jim McGill

    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £43,725 / £49,580
    Engine / Power: 2967cc V6 twin-turbocharged, diesel, 8sp auto gearbox / 308bhp
    How fast?: 5.1sec; / Max 155mph
    How big/heavy?: L4644mm W1911mm H1624mm / 2000kg
    How thirsty/CO2?: 42.8mpg combined / 174g/km CO2
    InsGP/Road tax: n/a / n/a
    Alternatives: Range Rover Evoque SD4, BMW X3

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