Audi SQ5 2021 review: TDI
Audi was so keen for the diesel SQ5’s return to Australia that 240 examples of the existing model with the diesel engine have been secured for down under.
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Audi would probably prefer you not to realise this, but the five distinct versions of S4 and S5 on the market all pertain to a single performance and equipment formula spread across five different bodystyles.
Yes five, and this has been the case for more than a decade, with the S4 sedan and Avant wagon, A5 two-door Coupe, convertible Cabriolet and five door liftback Sportback all representing vastly different shapes for you to choose from, with the same underpinnings. This simply echoes the A4 and A5 ranges they’re based on of course, and BMW clearly thought it was a good idea too, given the 3 and 4 Series ranges were split into individual lines at the start of last generation.
We’ve covered the latter in October, and now it’s the turn for the former, and CarsGuide was among the first to drive the updated S4 and S5 ranges at their Australian media launch last week.
|Audi S4 2021: 3.0 TFSI Quattro|
|Engine Type||3.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
The S4 sedan and Avant have scored the bulk of design updates, with all new and recontoured side panels including the sedan’s C-pillar matching what was applied to the A4 earlier this year.
This is paired with new front and rear facias and lighting for a subtle but extensive rework of the fifth-generation S4’s conservative look.
The S5 Sportback, Coupe and Cabriolet get S5-specific new lighting and facias, but no sheetmetal changes. As before, the Coupe and Cabriolet ride on a 60mm shorter wheelbase than the Sportback, sedan and Avant.
The S5s also get Matrix LED headlights as standard which do a neat animated sequence when you unlock the car.
Other visual hallmarks include new S4-specific 19-inch wheels, with S5 stepping up to its own unique 20-inch wheel. The six-piston front brake calipers are appropriately painted red, and there’s S-specific adaptive dampers under there too. All variants aside from the Cabriolet get a lip spoiler on the rear.
On the inside, there’s a new centre console and bigger 10.1-inch multimedia screen, while the Audi Virtual Cockpit driver instrument display now offers a hockey stick-style rev counter in additional to traditional dial layouts.
As I mentioned above, the S4 and S5 line-up are in many ways the same, but also different, and these differences result in a price span of $20,500 between the S4 sedan and the S5 Cabriolet.
The former is now $400 cheaper with a list price of $99,500, with the also-$400 cheaper S4 Avant not far beyond at $102,000.
The S5 Sportback and Coupe are now $600 more expensive at an equal list price of $106,500, while the swish folding soft top of the S5 Cabriolet pushes it up to $120,000 (+$1060).
Equipment levels are consistent across all five variants aside from the S5s getting Matrix LED headlights as standard and one inch larger 20-inch wheels.
Key details include Nappa leather trim with front sport seats with seat heaters and massage function, a Bang & Olufsen sound system which spreads 755W across a total of 19 speakers, brushed aluminium inlays, head-up display, coloured ambient lighting, tinted windows and metallic paint.
Over the past 12 months, the S5 Sportback has proven to be the most popular of the five variants by far, accounting for 53 per cent of sales, with the S4 Avant next in line at 20 per cent, the S4 sedan making up 10 per cent, and the S5 Coupe and Cabriolet combining to make up the remaining 17 per cent.
The biggest practicality change among the five S4 and S5 variants is their upgrade to the latest version of Audi’s MMI multimedia system, which steps up to a 10.1-inch touchscreen and drops the scroll wheel from the centre console.
It also boasts ten times the computing power of the version it replaces and uses this and an on-board sim card to access Google Earth maps for navigation and Audi Connect Plus that offers driver information such as fuel prices and parking information as well as point of interest search and weather information, plus the ability to make emergency calls and seek roadside assistance.
I only drove the S4 Avant and S5 Sportback at their media launch, which are clearly the most practical of the five, but from our experience with the previous versions, each looks after its occupants well in terms of space and storage. Back seat accommodation is clearly not a priority in the Coupe and Cabriolet, but there’s three other variants if that’s what you’re looking for.
The Cabriolet can open its automatic folding soft top within 15 seconds, at speeds of up to 50 km/h.
Audi has taken an ‘if it ain’t broke’ approach with the mechanicals, with all S4 and S5 models unchanged with this update. So the centrepiece continues to be the single-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 that produces 260kW and 500Nm, with the latter available from a broad 1370-4500rpm.
The rest of the drivetrain is also unchanged, with the venerable but excellent ZF eight-speed torque converter auto paired with the Quattro all-wheel drive system that can send up to 85 per cent of drive to the rear wheels.
Official combined fuel figures range from 8.6L1/00km for the S4 sedan to 8.8L/100km for the Avant, Coupe and Sportback, while the heavier Cabriolet steps up to 9.1L/100km.
All are pretty good considering their performance potential and the size of these cars, plus the fact that they only require 95 RON Premium Unleaded fuel.
All have a 58-litre fuel tank, which should enable a range of at least 637km between fills based on the Cabriolet’s figure.
All S4 and S5 variants boast an impressive array of safety features, but there’s some interesting points when it comes to ANCAP ratings. Only four cylinder A4 models (therefore not S4) were given a maximum five star rating when tested according to less stringent 2015 standards, but all A5 variants (therefore S5) aside from the Cabriolet carry a five star rating based on the tests applied to the A4. So officially, the S4 is not rated, but the S5 Coupe and Sportback are, but based on the A4 rating that doesn’t apply to the S4. As with most convertibles, the Cabriolet is simply not rated.
The airbag count totals eight in the sedan, Avant and Sportback, with dual front airbags, plus side and curtain airbags covering front and rear.
The Coupe drops the rear side airbags, while the Cabriolet also drops curtain airbags, meaning there’s no airbags for rear seat occupants. The roof is made of folding fabric, there has to be some safety compromise.
Other safety features include front AEB that works up to 85km/h, adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, active lane guidance and collision avoidance assist that can automatically swerve, a 360 degree camera system, rear cross-traffic alerts, exit warning that can prevent you opening a door into an oncoming car or cyclist, and pre sense rear that can detect an impending collision from behind and prepare the seatbelts and windows for maximum protection.
3 years / unlimited km warranty
Audi continues to offer a three year, unlimited kilometre warranty, which is in line with BMW but lags behind the five years offered by Mercedes-Benz these days. This also contrasts with the five year norm among mainstream brands, which is punctuated by the seven year warranties of Kia and SsangYong.
Service intervals are a convenient 12 months/15,000km though, and the same five year ‘Audi Genuine Care Service Plan’ offers capped price servicing for the same $2950 total over five years applies to all S4 and S5 variants. This is only marginally more than the plans offered for regular petrol A4 and A5 variants, so you’re not being stung for the thoroughbred versions.
The S4 and S5 range were already an excellent balance between everyday comfort and a genuine sporting edge, and nothing has changed with this update.
I spent time behind the wheel of the S4 Avant and S5 Sportback at their media launch, and both managed to deliver the proper Audi luxury experience over some pretty rough rural roads, while always feeling a bit more sporting than a regular A4 or A5. That’s with the Drive Select left in the default mode, but you can shift that sporting personality up a few notches (while scaling back the comfort), by selecting Dynamic mode.
My preferred means of adjusting their personality is by simply tugging the transmission selector back to activate S mode, which livens up the engine and transmission without stiffening up the suspension.
Across the five S4 and S5 bodystyles, there is some variance in performance potential, with the S4 sedan and S5 Coupe topping the performance chart with 0-100km/h boasts of 4.7s, with the S5 Sportback trailing them by 0.1s, the S4 Avant by a further 0.1s and the Cabriolet managing a still-fast 5.1s claim.
Another area I consider the S4 and S5s to get just right is their exhaust note. It is adaptive, but there’s nothing synthetic about it, and the generally muted and distinctly V6 burble is always there to remind you that you’re aboard a proper performance model, but not in such a way that it will annoy you, or your neighbours. Polite performance, if you will.
The S4 and S5 range continues to represent a great formula for performance you can live with every day. They're arguably the sweetest balance Audi produces, actually. All come fantastically equipped, with cabins that feel truly special, and we’re lucky they can be had in a choice of five bodystyles.
|3.0 TFSI Quattro||3.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$99,900||2021 Audi S4 2021 3.0 TFSI Quattro Pricing and Specs|
|Avant 3.0 Tfsi Quattro||3.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$102,400||2021 Audi S4 2021 Avant 3.0 Tfsi Quattro Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||8|
|Engine & trans||8|