Audi SQ5 2018 review
The diesel-powered SQ5 was the stuff of petrolhead legend, but Audi has ditched the oil-burner in favour of a slower (and more expensive) petrol-powered version.
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When Arnold Schwarzenegger decided to become a politician, most of us didn’t take him seriously. His successive eight-year stint as Governor of California proved our instincts correct, however.
The idea of a Porsche SUV still sounds a bit like a Hollywood star-turned politician if you’re from the sports car end of the performance brand’s fan base. Everyone else, for the past 15 years, has decided they prefer their Porsches SUV-shaped, with the Cayenne and more recently, Macan proving to be the most popular models in the line-up by a long shot.
If life gives you enough lemons to want an SUV, why not make lemonade with a Porsche example?
I had the ideal opportunity to taste test this logic with my family, by combining the entry version of the new Cayenne with a weekend 400km round trip to Orange for my favourite uncle’s 60th.
It was mighty tempting to make the trip on the Friday after work, given I live on the eastern edge of The Blue Mountains, but numerous reports that the wild animal situation is worse than ever along the Great Western Highway and beyond put paid to that.
The Cayenne may have a maximum five star Euro NCAP safety rating and all the important safety gear like AEB, but a kangaroo in the nose isn’t going to be pleasant for either party. So a Saturday morning departure it was.
The Cayenne is a big SUV for a five seater, sitting closer in size to an Audi Q7 than a Q5, even though its pebble-like styling makes it look closer to the latter. Incidentally, the Cayenne shares a lot of its underpinnings with its Audi cousins, along with the new VW Touareg, Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus. There’s some pub ammo for you.
Given I’d had no trouble fitting my two babies, my better half and weekend away luggage into a Golf R wagon just weeks prior, I was brimming with confidence the Cayenne could manage the same.
The child seats were the first to be loaded, which highlighted that the Cayenne’s pebble shape hasn’t adversely affected the roofline and door opening as you’ll find in the BMW SUV coupes. This is a very good thing if you’re regularly loading and unloading increasingly heavy children.
Fitting the seats was also as easy as possible, thanks to the Cayenne adhering to the current VW Group practice of putting the ISOFIX points behind clearly labeled and easily accessed tabs in the seat base.
Loading the boot was a different story though. I have no doubt it would easily swallow weekend luggage for any family of four with children beyond toddler age, but when you need to add a pram, umbrella stroller and portacot to your baggage, the Cayenne is easily filled.
Its 770-litre capacity sounds like heaps compared to the figures quoted by many SUVs, but Porsche must be measuring to the roof rather than the height of the back seat.
In reality, the load area tapers inwards from the base of the tailgate upwards, which means if you load things to the rear edge of the boot floor, you’re not going to be able to shut the tailgate unless you’re carrying pillows.
So it takes trial and error to make the most of the space, and care to avoid smashing the back window from within. Powered tailgates can be very handy if you’ve got your hands full, but mighty tedious if you need to open and shut them in rapid succession.
All aboard, and we were off to the birthplace of Banjo Paterson in the comfort of the optional ($870) two-tone black and 'Mojave Beige' interior, which made for a warm vibe against the grey and drizzling weather en route.
Our car was also fitted with the two-inch larger 21-inch Cayenne 'Exclusive Design' wheels ($7660, which also colour codes the wheelarches), which even with the standard steel-spring suspension, felt surprisingly supple as the road quality deteriorated the further west we went.
If you imagine Porsches to be harsh, performance-focused machines, the new Cayenne is particularly not.
One truth about Porsche is you can spend a fortune on options, but even in this relatively basic guise, everything you touch looks and feels like high quality. You won’t feel short changed.
It’s a well known fact that Porsche’s 'Communication Management' (PCM) multimedia system does include Apple CarPlay connectivity but not Android Auto, but this Android family was still annoyed to be reminded of it.
For us, this is the difference between being able to simply say “OK Google, play Dorothy the Dinosaur” to instantly settle my 20 month old, and the passenger fumbling through phone menus to do the same by hand via Spotify, while also ensuring their particular phone is connected via Bluetooth. First world problem yes, and only an issue for the Android faithful, but when a $14,000 Kia Picanto can do it...
The system’s own interface is easy enough to use and looks slick, and we’re particularly glad that the big 12.3-inch screen comes on even the cheapest Cayenne.
Our car’s options still totalled $22,760, which swelled the list price to $139,060. We were surprised to find it misses out on proximity keys - yes, you have to push a button to unlock the doors - at this level, but the biggest shock for this trip was the lack of active cruise control. The heavily trafficked and variable speed limited Great Western Highway is a much nicer place with active cruise control.
Otherwise, the 200km to Orange was a cinch for the 250kW/450Nm Cayenne, with the 3.0-litre turbo-petrol V6 and beautifully calibrated eight-speed auto rarely reaching much beyond idle to maintain the speed limit.
After unloading and reloading among constant - but very welcome for NSW! - rain, the highlight of Sunday morning was easily the heated front seats, even if they too are a $990 option.
So Sunday was quite literally a rinse and repeat of Saturday, but in the opposite direction.
The rain, and therefore dull sky, meant we could leave the optional panoramic sunroof ($4490) open to entertain the older of the two rear seat passengers but not disturb my four month old on the other side.
Our back seat is yet to be afflicted by car sickness, but the extra visibility these huge glass openings afford is theoretically a good preventative measure.
Another extra detail I found impressive, but had no reason to use in the inclement weather, is the dual sunvisors, with a secondary visor able to swing to cover the side window without compromising the windscreen visor. Bound to be very handy when driving in the early morning or approaching sunset, with clear skies.
This on-going rain, full load and the kids aboard left us no chance to test the Cayenne’s true performance and handling potential, but at highway speeds it felt no less special than the $123,100 more expensive V8 Turbo that currently sits at the top of the range.
As you’d expect, it’s stability was unwavering and it was just as comfortable as an Audi.
In addition to the $2190 'Biskay Blue Metallic' paint, $1,530 tinted LED tail-lights and $4380 LED matrix headlights and 'Porsche Dynamic Light System Plus' that rounded off our list of options, our Cayenne was also fitted with the $650 'Power Steering Plus', which from what we can tell just varies the level of steering assistance according to your speed.
After 400km heading over The Blue Mountains in either direction in the rain with a full load, our at the pump fuel figure was 9.93L/100km, which suggests we could have stretched 906km between fills of the 90-litre fuel tank.
So we could have done Port Macquarie and back without visiting a servo, which would have been handy, in a Porsche!
Our result wasn’t too far off the 9.2L/100km official combined figure, but it’s worth noting it needs the most expensive 98 RON unleaded to get the job done.
Like most modern cars, the Cayenne has a space-saver spare tyre which always has the potential to ruin such a weekend if you’re not able to find an open tyre shop, but we wouldn’t have wanted to sacrifice a single litre of boot space to fit a full sizer. It is a big boot, but only just big enough for my family.
Most Cayennes seem to be ordered in black, but our lighter metallic still looked relatively clean after a whole wet weekend in the country. We can’t say the same for the touch button centre console, which was quite smudged after two days. You’ll want to keep a screen cleaning cloth handy if you want to keep it looking as slick as it does in the photos.
Does anyone need a Porsche SUV? Certainly not with our speed limits, but that certainly won’t stop most Australian Porsche buyers wanting one.
At $123k less than the fastest Cayenne Turbo, the base model feels just as special under general duties and is as plush as any Audi SUV - even if it’s missing a few commonplace convenience features out of the box.
If you pack carefully it’ll handle the worst a family of four can throw at it, too.
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