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Audi SQ5 2021 review

The new Audi SQ5 has landed with more features, styling tweaks and a newly developed V6 diesel
EXPERT RATING
7.5
Like dessert follows dinner, the Audi SQ5 has been served up only a few months after the arrival of the updated Q5, and it's delicious

Audi makes some mind-blowing cars. There’s the R8 which comes up to my knees and has a V10, or the RS6 wagon which is like a missile with generous boot space. The model, however, most Audi buyers purchase is the Q5.

It’s a mid-sized SUV, which means it’s basically the shopping trolley in the carmaker’s range. But like all things Audi, there’s a performance version, and that’s the SQ5. Audi launched its updated Q5 mid-sized SUV a couple of months ago and now the revised sporty SQ5 has thundered in.

Audi SQ5 2021: 3.0 Tfsi Quattro
Safety rating
Engine Type3.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency8.7L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$101,500

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

It might just be me but the Q5 seems to be the best looking SUV in Audi’s range. It doesn’t have the overly large and cumbersome appearance of the Q7, but it has more heft than a Q3. That ‘Tornado line’ which twists itself down the side of the car, with the wheels appearing to push up into the body at the guards, adds to the dynamic look.

  • The SQ5 features 21-inch Audi Sport alloy wheels. The SQ5 features 21-inch Audi Sport alloy wheels.
  • The SQ5 features 21-inch Audi Sport alloy wheels. The SQ5 features 21-inch Audi Sport alloy wheels.
  • The SQ5 looks athletic with its S body kit. The SQ5 looks athletic with its S body kit.
  • The SQ5 looks athletic with its S body kit. The SQ5 looks athletic with its S body kit.
  • The SQ5 looks athletic with its S body kit. The SQ5 looks athletic with its S body kit.
  • The SQ5 looks athletic with its S body kit. The SQ5 looks athletic with its S body kit.
  • The update has seen the grille restyled with a more complex honeycomb design. The update has seen the grille restyled with a more complex honeycomb design.
  • The SQ5 looks athletic with its S body kit. The SQ5 looks athletic with its S body kit.
  • The SQ5 looks athletic with its S body kit. The SQ5 looks athletic with its S body kit.
  • The SQ5 looks athletic with its S body kit. The SQ5 looks athletic with its S body kit.
  • The SQ5 looks athletic with its S body kit. The SQ5 looks athletic with its S body kit.
  • The SQ5 looks athletic with its S body kit. The SQ5 looks athletic with its S body kit.

The SQ5 looks even more athletic with its S body kit, red brake calipers and 21-inch Audi Sport alloy wheels.

The update has seen the grille restyled to be lower and wider, with a more complex honeycomb design, while the side sill trim has been redesigned, too.

The cabin styling has been the same since the arrival of this second-generation Q5 in 2017. The cabin styling has been the same since the arrival of this second-generation Q5 in 2017.

SQ5 colours include, 'Mythos Black', 'Ultra Blue', 'Glacier White', 'Floret Silver', 'Quantum Grey', and 'Navarra Blue.'

The cabin is much the same as before, with the addition of Nappa leather upholstery as standard. While prestigious and well-appointed, the cabin styling has been the same since the arrival of this second-generation Q5 in 2017, and is beginning to show its age.

The SQ5 is 4682mm end-to-end, 2140mm wide and 1653mm tall.

  • It might just be me but the Q5 seems to be the best looking SUV in Audi’s range. It might just be me but the Q5 seems to be the best looking SUV in Audi’s range.
  • It might just be me but the Q5 seems to be the best looking SUV in Audi’s range. It might just be me but the Q5 seems to be the best looking SUV in Audi’s range.
  • It might just be me but the Q5 seems to be the best looking SUV in Audi’s range. It might just be me but the Q5 seems to be the best looking SUV in Audi’s range.
  • It might just be me but the Q5 seems to be the best looking SUV in Audi’s range. It might just be me but the Q5 seems to be the best looking SUV in Audi’s range.
  • It might just be me but the Q5 seems to be the best looking SUV in Audi’s range. It might just be me but the Q5 seems to be the best looking SUV in Audi’s range.

Want more coupe in your SQ5? You’re in luck, Audi has announced that an SQ5 Sportback will be coming soon.

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

This mid-size, five-seater SUV could do a better job on the practicality. There’s no third-row, seven-seater option, but that isn’t our main gripe. Nope, the SQ5 is short on rear legroom, and cabin storage isn’t great.

Sure, I’m 191cm (6'3") tall and almost 75 per cent of that is legs, but I can sit pretty comfortably behind my driving position in most mid-sized SUVs. Not the SQ5, which is getting tight back there.

The cabin is much the same as before, with the addition of Nappa leather upholstery as standard. The cabin is much the same as before, with the addition of Nappa leather upholstery as standard.

As for cabin storage, yes, there’s a decent-sized console box under the centre armrest and slots for keys and wallets, plus the front door pockets are big, but rear passengers again don’t get the best treatment with small door pockets. There are two cup holders back there, though, in the fold-down armrest and another two up front.   

The boot’s 510 litres of luggage capacity is almost 50 litres less than the cargo space of the BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC.

The boot has 510 litres of luggage capacity. The boot has 510 litres of luggage capacity.

Four USB ports (two in the front and two in the second row) are useful and so is the wireless phone charger in the dashboard.

Privacy glass, directional air vents for the third row and roof racks that now have cross members are great to see.

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

The SQ5 lists for $104,900, making it $35K more than the entry-grade Q5 40 TFSI. Still, the value is good considering this king-of-the-range is loaded with features, including an armful of new ones coming with this update.

New standard features include, matrix LED headlights, metallic paint, a panoramic sunroof, acoustic glazing, Nappa leather upholstery, an electrically adjustable steering column, a head-up display, a 19-speaker Bang and Olufsen stereo, and the roof racks now come with cross members.

New standard features include a 19-speaker Bang and Olufsen stereo. New standard features include a 19-speaker Bang and Olufsen stereo.

That’s along with the standard features which came on the SQ5 previously such as, LED DRLs, three-zone climate control, a 10.1-inch media display, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless charging, 30-colour ambient lighting, digital radio, power adjustable and heated front seats, privacy glass, 360-degree view camera, adaptive cruise, and auto parking.

The SQ5 also gets the sporty S exterior body kit with red brake calipers, and the interior also has S features such as sports seats with diamond stitching.

  • The SQ5 features a 10.1-inch media display and 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. The SQ5 features a 10.1-inch media display and 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster.
  • The SQ5 features a 10.1-inch media display and 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. The SQ5 features a 10.1-inch media display and 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster.
  • The SQ5 features a 10.1-inch media display and 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. The SQ5 features a 10.1-inch media display and 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster.

Of course, the SQ5 is more than just a cosmetic pack. There’s sports suspension and that magnificent V6, which we’ll get to soon.

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

The SQ5's 3.0-litre, turbo-diesel V6 is a development of the engine that was in the Special Edition SQ5 from the previous model, now producing 251kW from 3800-3950rpm, and 700Nm from 1750-3250rpm.

This diesel engine uses what’s called a mild-hybrid system. Don’t mistake this for a petrol-electric hybrid or a plug-in hybrid because it’s nothing like them, but more an auxiliary system for electrical storage which can restart the engine, which shuts down during coasting.

The SQ5's 3.0-litre, turbo-diesel V6 is a development of the engine. The SQ5's 3.0-litre, turbo-diesel V6 is a development of the engine.

Shifting gears is an eight-speed automatic, and of course drive goes to all four wheels. Claimed 0-100km/h for the SQ5 is 5.1 seconds, which should be more than enough to help you out when that lane ahead runs out. And towing capacity is 2000kg for a braked trailer.

Is there a petrol variant? There was one in the previous model, but for this update Audi has only released this diesel version so far. That’s not to say a petrol SQ5 won’t appear later. We’ll keep our ear to the ground for you.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

The Aussie launch didn’t give us a chance to test the SQ5's fuel consumption, but Audi reckons after a combination of open and urban roads the 3.0-litre TDI should return 7.0L/100km. That sounds like ridiculously good economy, but it’s all we have to go on for now. We’ll put the SQ5 through some real-world testing soon.

While the mild-hybrid system does contribute to fuel saving it would be much better to see a plug-in hybrid Q5 on sale in Australia. An e-tron EV version would be even better. So, while the diesel is efficient, consumers need more environmentally sound choices for this popular mid-sized SUV.  

What's it like to drive?   8/10

If I had to choose the best thing about the SQ5, it’s the way it drives. This is one of those cars that feels like you’re wearing it rather than driving it with the way it steers, the smooth eight-speed auto shifts, and the engine responds.

Like a low-flying army helicopter - voomp-voomp-voomp. That’s what the SQ5 sounds like at 60km/h in fourth, and I love it. Even if the sound is enhanced electronically.

  • The SQ5 seems more at home on gentle country roads and highways. The SQ5 seems more at home on gentle country roads and highways.
  • The SQ5 seems more at home on gentle country roads and highways. The SQ5 seems more at home on gentle country roads and highways.
  • The SQ5 seems more at home on gentle country roads and highways. The SQ5 seems more at home on gentle country roads and highways.
  • The SQ5 seems more at home on gentle country roads and highways. The SQ5 seems more at home on gentle country roads and highways.
  • The SQ5 seems more at home on gentle country roads and highways. The SQ5 seems more at home on gentle country roads and highways.
  • The SQ5 seems more at home on gentle country roads and highways. The SQ5 seems more at home on gentle country roads and highways.
  • The SQ5 seems more at home on gentle country roads and highways. The SQ5 seems more at home on gentle country roads and highways.
  • The SQ5 seems more at home on gentle country roads and highways. The SQ5 seems more at home on gentle country roads and highways.
  • The SQ5 seems more at home on gentle country roads and highways. The SQ5 seems more at home on gentle country roads and highways.
  • The SQ5 seems more at home on gentle country roads and highways. The SQ5 seems more at home on gentle country roads and highways.
  • The SQ5 seems more at home on gentle country roads and highways. The SQ5 seems more at home on gentle country roads and highways.

But the oomph is completely real. The 3.0-litre, turbo-diesel V6 is a development of the engine that was in the Special Edition SQ5 from the previous model, but it’s better because the 700Nm of torque now comes in lower, at 1750rpm. Power output is also a smidge higher at 251kW.

Just don’t expect the SQ5 to be brutally dynamic, it’s not a Mercedes-AMG GLC 43. Nope, it’s more grand tourer than super SUV with colossal torque and a comfortable ride. It handles impressively, but the SQ5 seems more at home on gentle country roads and highways than switchbacks and hairpins.

My drive route took in only a small amount of city running, but the SQ5’s ease of driving made traffic as stressless as stressful peak hour traffic can be.  

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 Q5 was given the maximum five-star ANCAP score when it was assessed in 2017, and the SQ5 carries the same rating.

Coming standard is AEB, although it’s the city-speed type which works to detect cars and pedestrians at up to 85km/h. There’s also rear cross-traffic alert, lane keeping assistance, blind spot warning, adaptive cruise control, auto parking (parallel and perpendicular), 360-degree camera view, front and rear parking sensors, and eight airbags.

For child seats there are two ISOFIX points and three top tether anchor mounts across the rear seat.

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

Audi refuses to budge on its three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, despite other prestige brands such as Genesis, Jaguar, and Mercedes-Benz going to five-year/unlimited km coverage.

Audi refuses to budge on its three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Audi refuses to budge on its three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.

As for servicing, Audi offers a five-year plan for the SQ5 costing $3100, covering every 12 month/15000km service over that time, for an annual average of .

Verdict

The SQ5 is the best version of a hugely popular SUV, and the turbo-diesel V6 provides a thunderously enjoyable and easy driving experience. The update has brought little in the way of new looks, and practicality remains an area where the SQ5 could be improved, but it’s hard not to appreciate this excellent SUV.     

Pricing guides

$103,200
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$101,500
Highest Price
$104,900

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
3.0 TDI Quattro Mhev 3.0L, Hyb/PULP, 8 SP AUTO $104,900 2021 Audi SQ5 2021 3.0 TDI Quattro Mhev Pricing and Specs
3.0 TDI Quattro Mhev Spec Edtn 3.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $104,900 2021 Audi SQ5 2021 3.0 TDI Quattro Mhev Spec Edtn Pricing and Specs
3.0 Tfsi Quattro 3.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $101,500 2021 Audi SQ5 2021 3.0 Tfsi Quattro Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.5
Design8
Practicality7
Price and features8
Engine & trans8
Fuel consumption7
Driving8
Safety8
Ownership6
Richard Berry
Senior Journalist

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