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2017 Audi SQ5 revealed with petrol power in Detroit | video

2017 Audi SQ5 drops diesel for petrol power.

Audi has revealed the enhanced SQ5 version of its second-generation Q5 mid-size SUV at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. 

Of most interest is the company's move to drop diesel in favour of petrol power for the Australian version expected in the second half of 2017. 

The new petrol engine pumps out 260kW/500Nm, meaning it gains 20kW of power but loses 150 Nm of torque in comparison with the diesel version. 

The loss of torque slows the SQ5 to a 5.4 second 0-100km/h sprint, some three tenths slower that the old model. 

That drops the SQ5 just a little further behind the Mercedes-AMG GLC43, which produces 270kW/520Nm, and blazes from 0-100km/h in 4.9 seconds.

A sport differential can be optioned which allows rear axle loads to be adjusted to improve traction on corner exit and reduce understeer.

The change from diesel to petrol also comes with a fuel economy penalty, up from 6.8L/100km to 8.3L/100km. This could also cause a retail price increase as the newer SQ5 will not qualify for luxury car tax benefits available to vehicles using less than 7.0L/100km. The SQ5 currently starts at $92,600 plus on-road costs. 

Audi powertrain development engineer Rolf Kronstorfer confirmed to CarsGuide last year that two engines would be available in the SQ5 range globally, but as yet no diesel drivetrain option has been announced.

The SQ5 has also received the same enhancements developed for the second-generation Q5, most notably a 35kg weight reduction and a stiffer body structure. 

The SQ5 features five link suspension front and rear and boasts adaptive dampers as standard equipment with adjustment between comfort and dynamic modes. 

The vehicle's quattro all-wheel drive system is fed power by a paddle-shift eight-speed automatic transmission. There is a slight rear axle bias and a torque control system allied to individual wheel braking to assist with turn-in. 

A sport differential can be optioned which allows rear axle loads to be adjusted to improve traction on corner exit and reduce understeer. 

Variable ratio dynamic steering and height adjustable air suspension are also optional.  

The SQ5 is somewhat understated for a performance variant with most of the exterior chrome replaced with matte grey trim. An SQ5-exclusive Panther Black paint finish is also available.

At the rear dual exhaust outlets sit either side of a honeycomb grille above a diffuser, while standard 20-inch rims can be optionally upsized to 21-inch versions. Braking is substantial with six piston callipers over 350mm discs up front. 

The interior is sporty and dark with leather trimmed upholstery featuring red stitching as standard. There are brushed alloy strips on the door trims and dash, and alloy-look paddle shifters behind a leather-bound wheel. 

Customisations include a selection of wood or carbon-fibre trim pieces.

Interior trim options include a selection of carbon-fibre and wood pieces, along with diamond-quilted Nappa leather seats with a massage function.

The dash features an 8.3-inch multimedia display, Wi-Fi hotspot and 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster display with specific sports functionality for the SQ5.

Other features include adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, automatic collision warning and avoidance, lane-keeping assistance, rear cross traffic alert, exit warning to prevent opening the door in front of vehicles, hill descent control, self-parking, road-sign recognition and autonomous emergency braking.

The technology-hungry can option a colour head-up display, mobile phone signal booster and a Bang & Olufsen premium 3D audio system, 

The original SQ5 contributed about 30 per cent of all Australian Q5 sales and was sometimes the most popular variant in the line-up.

The new Q5 is slated for local release in the third quarter of this year, and expectations are the SQ5 will follow soon after. 

The diesel Q5 still sold well in 2016 with 3599 units, making it fourth-most popular in the medium SUV over $60,000 segment after the Mercedes-Benz GLC (4454), Land Rover Discovery Sport (4432) and BMW X3 (3824).

Will the change to petrol power affect the local success of the SQ5? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

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