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Audi SQ5 review 2017

30 May 2017 15:31Last updated: 30 May 2017 16:48 There a very good chance you’ve seen the previous Audi SQ5[1] out on the road. For starters, it’s an SUV – which if you hadn’t noticed, are quite popular – but buyers also loved it for its spacious, high quality interior, sporty looks and incredibly punchy diesel engine.

And with a new Audi Q5 now on the scene[2], it was only a matter of time before a new range-topping SQ5 was introduced. However, there’s a fundamental difference this time around – it’s fitted with a 349bhp turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine. This new engine means the SQ5 is actually slightly slower than before, sprinting from 0-62mph in 5.4sec (compared with 5.1sec) but will top out at the same limited 155mph.

And with petrol rather than diesel power also comes reduced fuel economy and increased CO2 emissions. With that in mind, does this new model make as much sense as its predecessor? And how does it compare against other fast petrol SUVs, such as the Mercedes-AMG GLC 43[3] and Porsche Macan[4]?

What’s the 2017 Audi SQ5 like to drive?

It’s likely that a 3.0-litre diesel model will join at a later date, but for now the new SQ5 is petrol-only. That’s no problem, because the turbocharged V6 engine delivers seriously eye-widening acceleration accompanied by a purposeful V6 howl. The standard eight-speed automatic gearbox can be a little slow to respond when moving away from a standstill, but it reacts snappily once you’re on the move – especially if you change gear manually using the paddle shifters mounted behind the steering wheel.

There are various driving modes to flick between, the most focused of which is Sport. This setting sharpens the SQ5’s accelerator response, adds weight to the steering and makes the gearbox even more assertive. If you’ve chosen to add the optional adaptive air suspension (?1000), Sport mode also stiffens the car up to reduce body lean through corners.

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The results are good: the SQ5 controls its body through remarkably well through tight bends and feels more eager to change direction than the GLC 43.

That said, the Macan still feels yet sharper from the driver’s seat, helped by the fact that its steering feels more naturally weighted and provides a better sense of connection with the front wheels. Flick the SQ5 back into Comfort mode and everything relaxes, including the optional air suspension, which did a superb job of smoothing out our test route. The SQ5 rides 30mm lower than the standard Q5, and on larger 20in alloy wheels, but this doesn’t seem to affect ride comfort.

Throw in the SQ5’s whisper-quiet interior and it’s a relaxing car to cover big miles in. However, we’ll need to try its standard adaptive sports suspension on UK roads to give it our full seal of approval.

What’s the 2017 Audi SQ5 like inside?

There are no dimension changes to the SQ5 over the standard Q5, so four adults will be more comfortable than in the Macan.

The SQ5’s boot is bigger than both the Macan’s and the GLC 43’s, too. Meanwhile, its standard 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats lie flat when you need more space, or can be slid back and forth, trading rear-seat knee room for extra boot space. Unspurisingly, the impressive interior quality we’ve come to expect from Audi is present and correct, with luxurious Nappa leather seats, solid plastics and switches and chrome accents that look and feel like the real thing.

The SQ5 looks sportier inside than a regular Q5, too, with red stitching, stainless steel pedals and S badging on the steering wheel. Audi’s MMI Navigation Plus infotainment system comes as standard. We rate it very highly.

Everything is controlled via a rotary dial controller and shortcut buttons between the front seats, which you use to scroll through easy-to-follow menus.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring are both standard, too, although it’s a bit disappointing that you have to pay extra for Audi’s Virtual Cockpit digital instrument panel.

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References

  1. ^ the previous Audi SQ5 (www.whatcar.com)
  2. ^ with a new Audi Q5 now on the scene (www.whatcar.com)
  3. ^ Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 (www.whatcar.com)
  4. ^ Porsche Macan (www.whatcar.com)

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