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Audi SQ5 2020 review

Caught by a tornado: the Audi SQ5's tornado line makes it a beauty to behold.
EXPERT RATING
7.5
The Audi SQ5 could be just the right combination of fast, comfortable and practical for a small family in a hurry.

Do you know what the best thing is about the Audi SQ5? It’s not complicated – there’s only one type.

Actually, that’s not true, there are two - the petrol, which was tested in this review, and a diesel, which is coming soon. No, the best thing about the SQ5 is how fast it is. Hmm… Okay, look it’s not actually as quick as some of its rivals. But still. Quick.

So, it must be its practicality then – that’s the best thing… although there’s not a whole stack of legroom in the back.

So what about the thousands of dollars of extra equipment added in the 2019 update? That could be it. Or perhaps it was just the colour of the one we drove that was the best thing.

Look, I’ll let you decide what the best things are about the Audi SQ5, because they're all covered in the review below. Take your pick.

Audi SQ5 2020: 3.0 TFSI QUATTRO
Safety rating
Engine Type3.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency8.7L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$99,900

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

The Audi SQ5 was given an update in September, 2019, which added more equipment (up to $10,000 of extra value, Audi says) but with just a $400 price increase, so it now lists for $99,900.

The update added new standard features like  metallic paint,  along with a glass panoramic sunroof, Bang & Olufsen stereo, head-up display, the extended leather upholstery package (centre console and armrests), wireless charging and two USB chargers for the second row.

The fabulous Turbo Blue paint the test car wore was a no-cost option, which is truly unusual.

Already coming standard were LED headlights and running lights, power tailgate, rear privacy glass, S body styling, leather sports seats up front, which are heated and power adjustable, plus three-zone climate control, ambient lighting (30 nightclub-approved colours), a sports steering wheel, an 8.3-inch display with sat nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and digital radio.

Inisde, you'll find an 8.3-inch display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Inisde, you'll find an 8.3-inch display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The standard safety equipment list is impressive, too, and we’ll cover that in detail below.

Is the SQ5 good value? Yes, it is with the extra equipment that was added in the 2019 update. As a model comparison also consider the Mercedes-AMG GLC 43, which comes it at about $110K, or the SQ5’s cousin - the Porsche Macan S, for $98,200 - or the BMW X3 M40i.

My test car was optioned with a quattro sport differential ($2950), 21-inch wheels ($500), Titanium Black styling package ($1430) and piano black inlays ($520). Oh and the sunroof had been deleted, which is what I’d do, too. Sunroof in summer, in Australia? No thanks.

This particular SQ5 was fitted with optional 21-inch alloy wheels. This particular SQ5 was fitted with optional 21-inch alloy wheels.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

Can we talk about the colour of our test car first? The hue is Turbo Blue, it’s a no-cost option and as somebody who only wears black, it’s changed my mind about bright colours … on cars anyway.

The Blue is not quite the ‘Tiffany’s’ turquoise which the Macan comes in, but a bolder ‘plasticky’ blue and in an automotive world of seemingly 50,000 different shades of grey it’s refreshingly different. The SQ5 stood out, but not in a clown-car way.

I’m a fan of the SQ5’s styling – that so-called ‘Tornado line’, which twists itself over the wheel arches, looks superb and so does the low, wide bonnet and broad grille. All of the SQ5’s rivals look great, but the Audi has the toughest stance of them all.

The Turbo Blue paint is a no-cost option on the SQ5. The Turbo Blue paint is a no-cost option on the SQ5.

Just shield your eyes when the boot is open, because the taillights are part of the tailgate and when it’s raised the gaping blank spaces left behind aren’t attractive.

There’s nothing offensive about the cabin, you’ll be pleased to know. The seats in my test car were Black with Rock Grey contrast stitching. I’m a sucker for the whole quilted-leather thing, too.

Yes, the media display looks tiny compared to Mercedes-Benz’s gigantic screens, but the virtual instrument cluster keeps the cockpit looking modern and pretty.

Audi cabins always seem to be on the verge of bland but the wow-factor is in the high-quality materials. Audi cabins always seem to be on the verge of bland but the wow-factor is in the high-quality materials.

Audi cabins always seem to be on the verge of bland but make no mistake that while there’s no focus on bling, the wow-factor for me is in the high-quality materials and a great fit and finish.

Ah, but there’s something else you should know, something which does make me a bit cranky, and that’s the fake tail pipes. Yep, it looks like there are black exhaust tips moulded into that rear bumper, but if you peer inside you’ll see that they are sealed. The real exhaust pipes hang down under the car on both sides.

How big is the Audi SQ5? Not as big as it looks. The SQ5 is 1635mm tall, 2140mm wide and 4671mm end-to-end.   

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

The SQ5 isn’t a large SUV, it’s medium-sized at 4.7m in length and while space up front is good for me at 191cm tall and that same length in wingspan, too, sitting behind my driving position is a bit tight, with my knees almost up against the seat back. Headroom is pretty good, though, and that’s thanks in part to the lack of a sunroof.

Cabin storage is good but not great and while there’s a decent sized centre console bin, and slots for keys and wallets, I found the front door pockets to offer the most useful space.

Headroom is pretty good, and that’s thanks to the lack of a sunroof. Headroom is pretty good, and that’s thanks to the lack of a sunroof.

The door pockets in the back are smaller but there are two cupholders in the fold-down centre armrest and another two up front.

It was great to see plenty of charging outlets – the wireless phone charger, two USB ports and a 12V outlet up front and two USB ports in the back and a 12V in the second row.

Sitting behind my driving position is a bit tight, with my knees almost up against the seat back. Sitting behind my driving position is a bit tight, with my knees almost up against the seat back.

The second-row passengers also have directional air vents and climate control.

The cargo capacity of the SQ5’s boot is 550 litres – so what does that mean in terms of real-world stuff? See the images, where you'll find there was plenty of room for our CarsGuide pram, or three suitcases.

  • With the rear seats in place, boot space is rated at 550 litres. With the rear seats in place, boot space is rated at 550 litres.
  • There's enough room in the rear to fit three suitcases. There's enough room in the rear to fit three suitcases.
  • The CarsGuide pram also fits comfortably back there. The CarsGuide pram also fits comfortably back there.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   8/10

The Audi SQ5 is the most powerful member of the Q5 family, with its 3.0-litre twin-turbo petrol V6 making 260kW from 5400rpm and plenty of torque, too, with 500Nm available from 1370rpm.

The transmission is an eight-speed Tiptronic, which is Audi-speak for a regular torque-converter automatic, not a dual-clutch.

SQ5s are all-wheel drive and, as mentioned, our test car was fitted with a quattro sport differential, which splits torque between the wheels on the rear axle for better dynamics.

Under the bonnet is a twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 making 260kW/500Nm. Under the bonnet is a twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 making 260kW/500Nm.

Drive Mode select is a function which allows you to switch between six settings: Off Road; Efficiency; Comfort; Auto; Dynamic and Individual.

The exhaust note is magnificent, especially at just above 2000rpm in Dynamic mode, but part of the beautiful growl is caused by a ‘sound actuator’, which is found in sporty models throughout Audi’s range.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

The Audi SQ5 came to live with me for a week. I used it as our family SUV to do the preschool run, the work commute into the city and I took it on my midnight test run, which is normally reserved for sportscars. I also tested it for its fuel economy by measuring how much the SQ5 drank during my time – you can read about the results of that below.

I found the SQ5 to be an SUV I could happily use daily – the ride isn’t too firm, even for a sports SUV, the acceleration is on the milder side of rapid, and the seats are supportive and comfortable, too.

Visibility is good all around, there’s auto parking, which worked perfectly for me in a tight parallel spot, and the transmission,  while slow to shift (compared to a dual-clutch) if you hammer it, does so seamlessly.

Talking of hammering, the sporty side of things was where I felt the SQ5 could be better. Don’t get me wrong, the balance of this SUV feels superb, and the quattro sport differential our test car had fitted should be on your options list if you’re after great dynamics, but the steering could do with more weight and  a 0-100km/h time of 5.4s feels slow compared to the competition,  which are at least half-a-second faster.

But this is the SQ5 and an Audi that starts with an S means it’s sporty but not hardcore. So in that case the SQ5 is probably exactly the way it should be – if only there was an RSQ5, but alas there isn’t. So far.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

After 161.7km of testing over motorways, daily peak-hour commutes and country roads, the tank needed 26.88 litres of premium unleaded to reach full again, which comes to 16.6L/100km. That’s a bit more than the mileage of 8.7L/100km Audi says I should have seen. To be fair, there were only 450km on the clock when we picked it up – that may have been a contributing factor in the higher use of fuel.  

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

The Audi Q5 was given the maximum five-star ANCAP rating when it was tested back in 2017. The updated SQ5 comes standard with forward AEB, which can detect pedestrians, rear AEB with cross traffic function, blind-spot warning, lane-keeping assistance, evasive-steering assistance, exit warning system and adaptive cruise with stop and go function.

For child seats you’ll find three top-tether points and two ISOFIX mounts across the second row.

Under the boot floor is a space-saver spare wheel.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   6/10

The SQ5 is covered by Audi’s three-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty. Servicing is recommended every 12 months/15,000km.

A three-year servicing plan is offered for $1890 while a five-year plan is offered for $2920.

Verdict

The SQ5 twin-turbo V6 petrol is a high-performance SUV with excellent dynamic ability, but it’s docile enough to drive easily,  every day, with a comfortable ride and light steering. It's perfect for a family, with a couple of kids enjoying climate control, USB ports and dark tinted glass in the second row, plus it’s loaded with advanced safety equipment.  

Pricing Guides

$104,050
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$99,900
Highest Price
$108,200

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
3.0 TFSI QUATTRO 3.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $99,900 2020 Audi SQ5 2020 3.0 TFSI QUATTRO Pricing and Specs
3.0 TFSI QUATTRO BLACK EDITION 3.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $108,200 2020 Audi SQ5 2020 3.0 TFSI QUATTRO BLACK EDITION Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.5
Price and features8
Design8
Practicality7
Engine & trans8
Driving8
Fuel consumption7
Safety8
Ownership6
Richard Berry
Senior Journalist

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