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Audi SQ5 TDI 2013 review

EXPERT RATING
8

The phrase ‘sport utility vehicle’ is bandied about recklessly these days, however nothing fits the SUV tag better than one vehicle just released in Australia.

The new Audi SQ5 TDI is as sporty as, well, many a sports sedan – it’s the world’s fastest diesel SUV – at the same time being as functional as many all-wheel drive wagons.

ENGINE

Powered by a 3.0-litre biturbo V6 engine pumping out a prodigious 230 kW of power, and heavy hauling 650 Nm of torque between a low 1450 and 2800 rpm, the hot Audi -- we are told -- will hit 100 kilometres an hour from standstill in 5.1 seconds. Yet it can slip off the bitumen to take on dirt, gravel, snow or sand like any soft-road trouper. 

The engine features two water cooled turbochargers connected in series. A switchover valve directs intercooled air to a small turbo at low revs, with a large charger performing pre-compression. From 2500 rpm, the valve begins to open and the small charger shifts most of its workload to its bigger mate. Between 3500 and 4000 rpm the valve opens fully, the large charger taking on all the work.

Backed by Audi’s six-time TDI success in the Le Mans 24-Hour endurance race, the maker says the high-performance diesel engine, with its eight-speed Tiptronic transmission driving power through the quattro permanent four-wheel drive system, needs only 6.8 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres to keep it going on the combined urban / highway consumption cycle.

VALUE

This low consumption puts the SQ5 TDI under the Luxury Car Tax threshold, a saving in this case of $3000, passed on to buyers who shell out the $89,400, plus on-road costs, to drive away in one.

On a run from Hobart to Launceston, including a couple of loops of the Targa Tasmania taken with appropriate driving enthusiasm, the SQ5 TDI clocked 10.3 litres of fuel per 100km. That’s a lot more than 6.8 litres…

TECHNOLOGY

The first 60 vehicles to land in Australia come with added attractions: to be known as the Launch Edition, each carries 21-inch alloy wheels, Dynamic Steering, Bang and Olufsen audio system, digital radio, High Beam Assist, adaptive headlights, seat heating for front and outside rear passengers, carbon atlas inlays, privacy glass, luggage rail system in the cargo area, partition net and alarm, all for an additional $14,720, excluding premium paint.

This is on top of SQ5 TDI standard fitments of MMI Navigation plus, rear reversing camera, flat-bottom sports steering wheel, tyre pressure monitor and electric driver and passenger seats with memory function, including mirrors.

The S sport suspension, lowering the body by 30 mm over the standard Q5, the Audi drive select system and 21-inch wheels in five parallel-spoke design, had the car gripping the road with great effect through fast bends, while the ABS did justice to the black brake callipers. It was hard to unsettle the SUV, even on dirt. 

STYLING

The sporty interior, in black, with an optional silver headlining, is designed to provide the perfect backdrop for world-champion performance. Instrument scales are grey, their needles white, while the SQ5 badge has a 3-D effect normally found in high-end watches.

Features such as the S gear shift knob, S badges on the door sills, on the start button and the specially-shaped steering wheel, the S welcome screen and the light package all reinforce the special nature of the vehicle.

Pedals and shift paddles have a sporty aluminium look, the power sport seats are upholstered in Pearl Nappa leather and Alcantara, and are available in three colours.

On the outside the SQ5 is just as striking, with design details such as the platinum grey single-frame radiator grille with galvanised dual struts in aluminium look, the roof spoiler and modified bumpers setting the SUV apart from the standard model. Roof rail cross bars are included.

The exterior mirror housings are in an aluminium look, xenon plus headlights with LED daytime running lights are standard and the exhaust system stands out at the rear with four elliptical tailpipes.

DRIVING

However, it was when the SQ5 came to overtaking that the 650 Nm of torque on tap really came into its own, the car passing  slower traffic with confidence and pulling away with an assurance bordering on arrogance. 

In ‘dynamic’ mode, a sound actuator (loudspeaker) in a side channel of the exhaust lets out a deep growl in tune with the keen performance of the vehicle. Further ‘good vibes’ were transmitted to the passenger cabin via the windscreen, acting as a speaker cone, vibrating to the deep-throated note of the motor when urged along. Great fun.

On the practical side, the car carries four drink holders, plus bag hooks. The electric tailgate can be programmed for opening height with thought for the vertically challenged.

Audi SQ5

Price: $89,400
Warranty: 3 years/unlimited km
Resale: N/A
Fixed service costs: No
Service interval: 12 months/15,000km
Crash rating: 5-star
Engine: 3.0-litre twin turbodiesel, 230kW/650Nm
Transmission: 8-speed auto, AWD
Thirst: 6.8L/100km, 179g/km CO2
Weight: 1995kg
Spare: Tyre-repair kit

Pricing guides

$39,490
Based on 17 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$32,490
Highest Price
$44,888

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
3.0 TDI Quattro 3.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $27,100 – 35,860 2013 Audi SQ5 2013 3.0 TDI Quattro Pricing and Specs
3.0 TDI Quattro Launch Edition 3.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $31,900 – 41,800 2013 Audi SQ5 2013 3.0 TDI Quattro Launch Edition Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8