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Driven: Audi’s SQ5 still appealing with petrol power

Team-up: Audi’s new SQ5 has launched with the 260kW/500Nm 3.0-litre turbo-petrol V6 shared with its S4 and S5 siblings, enabling the crossover to sprint to 100km/h from a standstill in 5.4 seconds.

Flagship SQ5 variant expected to account for noticeable slice of Audi’s Q5 sales

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Audi logo12 Jul 2017

By TUNG NGUYEN

AUDI’S vital new-generation Q5 premium SUV range has hit Australian showrooms topped by the SQ5 performance flagship that is expected to account for a greater proportion of sales despite the switch from a diesel engine to petrol power.

Eschewing the oil-burning drivetrain in favour of a 260kW/500Nm 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 – the same engine found in the already launched S4 sedan and wagon and S5 coupe – the new SQ5 is 20kW more powerful, but 150Nm down on torque compared with its predecessor.

The new flagship mid-size SUV is also 0.3 seconds slower in a straight line, with an official zero to 100km/h sprint time of 5.4s, and it is thirster, averaging 8.7 litres per 100km (compared with 6.8L/100km) while also emitting more CO2 pollutants (200g/km vs 180g/km).

Audi Australia has also priced the new SQ5 higher than the outgoing model at $99,611 before on-roads compared with the previous generation’s $92,955 pricetag, but the company says the updated flagship is offered with about $16,000 of additional standard kit included.

Speaking to GoAuto at the national media launch of the Q5, Audi Australia product communications manager Shaun Cleary said the shift to petrol power would not affect the SQ5’s appeal to customers.

“I think something that we haven’t probably talked about enough over the last, particularly, five years is actually the general trend towards huge efficiency gains in petrol engines,” he said.

“Clearly they’ve got a different power delivery – huge and linear (compared with diesel) – and more powerful engines with each generation, but actually the full economy benefits of the new engines are really fantastic.

“So you’re getting petrol engines with the kind of torque delivery and power delivery that they (diesel) offer, as well as really improved fuel efficiency.

“As long as the engine performs well, is efficient and offers a really great dynamic driving experience which, you know, with the new lighter weight that the new car does, that’s what customers are after in the end.”

Since the first-generation model’s launch in 2009, Audi Australia has sold 24,723 Q5s to the end of June this year, with the SQ5 making up about 4100.

However, the SQ5 was launched in 2013 – four years after the debut of the Q5 – and, according to Audi Australia product planning manager Peter Strudwicke, “if you average it out over the years it’s (SQ5) been on sale, its 25 to 30 per cent on average”.

When asked by GoAuto if the new-generation SQ5 could retain a similar proportion of overall Q5 sales, Mr Strudwicke said it was still too early to predict figures for the SUV, but other S models in the company’s line-up were performing well.

“I guess we’ll wait and see,” he said. “Obviously the car’s not yet on sale, so probably just before the end of the year we’ll kind of get an idea of what the take-up is, certainly the reaction from dealers has been really positive.

“We’ve actually also seen with S4 and S5, they’ve been really well received, and so we’re actually upping our mixes of things like S5 because they’ve actually been more popular than expected. So just wait and see with SQ5.”

Mr Cleary added that the nameplate was “well established in the market” and has “proven to be popular with customers” while also hinting that the second-generation diesel-powered SQ5 – underpinned by a 3.0-litre turbo V6 – may appear in Australian showrooms down the track based on “what is happening in the market at that moment”.

Sitting as the range-topper, the first petrol-powered SQ5 sheds 130kg compared to its predecessor to tip the scales at 1870kg thanks to its new MLB Evo platform and lightweight construction.

Peak power of 260kW is delivered from 5400-6400rpm, while maximum torque of 500Nm is available between 1370-4500rpm – the latter of which is produced earlier and available for wider in the rev range when compared with before.

All SQ5s come equipped with an eight-speed tiptronic automatic transmission sending power to all wheels via Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system with a centre differential splitting torque 40:60 front to rear.

The system can also send up to 85 per cent of torque to either axle when it detects slip, while an optional sport differential can be fitted to split the torque to an individual rear wheel.

Front and rear suspension is now handled by a five-link system with adaptive dampers as standard and air suspension as an option, while stopping power is managed by 350mm ventilated front discs with six-piston callipers painted in red and 330mm discs at the rear tucked beneath 21-inch alloy wheels.

A subtle sports bodykit, adaptive LED headlights with dynamic rear indicators, leather sports seats, an 8.3-inch central infotainment screen with sat-nav and smartphone connectivity, and Audi’s 12.3-inch virtual cockpit instrumentation with ‘S’ mode are also included at no cost on the SQ5.

Customers also have a choice of three other Q5 variants and a limited launch edition with two engine options – a petrol or diesel 2.0-litre turbocharged four cylinder – if the budget does not stretch to the range-topping SQ5.

All regular Q5s are now up to 90kg lighter than before and feature a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and Audi’s Quattro Ultra all-wheel-drive system which can decouple the rear axle for a more economical front-wheel-drive mode in situations where extra grip is not needed.

As reported at the Q5’s first local drive in April, the second-generation line-up will open with the $65,900 Design grade, which is underpinned by a 140kW/400Nm diesel powerplant and is $2100 cheaper than the outgoing entry-level version.

The 1845kg Q5 Design will return 5.3L/100km in fuel economy (12 per cent more efficient than before), emit 139g/km of CO2 and can sprint from 0-100km/h in 7.9s.

Standard equipment includes 18-inch alloy wheels, Audi’s drive mode select, Xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights and tail-lights, gesture controlled electronic tailgate, leather-appointed seats, 40:20:40 split fold rear seats, keyless entry and start, three-zone climate control, an eight-speaker sound system, and 7.0-inch infotainment system with satellite navigation, WiFi hotspot, digital radio, live traffic updates and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

The same diesel powertrain is available in the $70,700 Sport grade, which gains 20-inch alloy wheels, adaptive LED headlights, sports front seats, heated and folding side mirrors, black headlining, Audi’s 12.3-inch all-digital virtual cockpit instrumentation, larger 8.3-inch infotainment screen and a premium 10-speaker sound system.

The Sport variant is also a little thirster than its entry-level sibling, returning a fuel economy figure of 5.5L/100km and CO2 emissions of 143g/km, while sharing the same 1845kg weight and 7.9s 0-100km/h time.

For $73,211 – $3295 more expensive than the previous-gen 2.0-litre TFSI Q5 and $289 cheaper than previously reported due to savings in the luxury car tax – buyers can opt for the Sport variant with a petrol powertrain, which produces 185kW from 5000-6000rpm and 370Nm between 1600-4500rpm.

Fuel economy rises to 7.3L/100km in the 1795kg petrol version, while CO2 emissions are 167g/km and the 0-100km/h time drops to 6.3s.

Finally, Audi is offering the Q5 S line ‘black launch edition’, limited to 70 units and priced at $82,900 for the diesel and $86,611 for the petrol engine.

The S line black adds diamond pattern seat stitching, Carbon Atlas trim, S line badging, sliding and reclining rear seats, 20-inch alloy wheels in anthracite black, sports suspension, aluminium look lower bumper insert, Manhattan grey exterior highlights and an exclusive Quantum grey body colour.

The new-generation Q5 is 34mm longer at 4663mm, has a 12mm longer wheelbase at 2819mm and is 4mm higher at 1659mm, resulting in an extra 10 litres of luggage space and a boot capacity of 550-610L, depending on rear-seat configuration.

With the seats folded down, the Q5 will swallow 1550L.

Standard safety equipment across the range includes autonomous emergency braking (AEB), eight airbags, hill start assist, rear cross-traffic alert, reversing camera, front parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, cruise control and exit warning system.

Sport variants add adaptive cruise control, a more comprehensive pre-sense front collision system, automatic high beams and turn assist, while SQ5 versions gain 360-degree cameras and park assist.

Buyers of the standard Q5 have a choice of 10 colour options including Azores Green and Navarra Blue, while SQ5 customers get two more paint colours to choose from – Daytona Grey and Panther Black.

Options on the Q5 include the Comfort package, Parking assistance package, Technik package and S line style pack – which add features including sliding and reclining rear seats, 360-degree cameras, Matrix LED headlights, head-up display and 20-inch wheels.

2017 Audi Q5 pricing*
2.0 TDI Design (a)$65,900
2.0 TDI Sport (a)$70,700
2.0 TFSI Sport (a)$73,211
2.0 TDI S line black (a)$82,900
2.0 TFSI S line black (a)$86,611
3.0 TFSI SQ5 (a)$99,611
*Excludes on-road costs

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