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Driven: Audi's Plus-sized SQ5 punches harder

Form a Q: The Audi SQ5 Plus edition ensures that the model retains its title as the fastest diesel SUV in Australia.

The Audi SQ5 Plus muscles in for the ageing mid-size SUV’s swan song

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Audi logo13 Apr 2016

By STUART MARTIN

THE fastest diesel SUV in Australia, Audi’s SQ5, has been beefed up to Plus-size status for its grand finale, pushing the high-riding hot-road's price into six-figure territory for the first time.

At one stage the biggest-selling single variant of the Q5 range, the SQ5 represents roughly a third of the Q5 sales mix and the model has made the most of Australia’s love affair with SUVs.

Audi Australia managing director Andrew Doyle said the SQ5 TDI had been a hit with local buyers and suggested that the Plus version will continue its popularity.

“The instant affinity Australian performance car buyers had for the Audi SQ5 TDI was unprecedented,” he said.

“In 2013, we launched the SQ5 TDI as a totally new concept for our brand – a performance SUV – and its extraordinary success proves that it delivers on all of its promise: storming engine power, practical versatility, intelligent functionality.

“The new SQ5 TDI Plus offers discerning buyers even more in all of those areas, and so we are very confident that it will find favour just as quickly,” he said.

Pricing for the SQ5 TDI Plus starts from $108,900 excluding on-road costs, up from standard SQ5’s $92,600 asking price, but the Plus benefits from drivetrain changes to improve in-gear performance and driveability.

Audi Australia product planning manager Peter Strudwicke said the SQ5 remains the Australia’s fastest diesel SUV – at least until the 320kW/900Nm SQ7 arrives later this year – and the Plus model is expected to make up 20 per cent of SQ5 sales.

“When we launched it in 2013 it quickly became one of our most popular models,” he said.

“It’s the most powerful and torquiest six-cylinder diesel we’ve ever offered, you can’t get a medium SUV anywhere else with this much torque.”

The twin-turbo 3.0-litre diesel V6’s engine mapping, increased injection and boost pressures have been revamped to generate 250kW (between 4100 and 4300rpm) and 700Nm from 1500rpm, increases of 10kW and 50Nm. The outputs are delivered to the ground by way of an eight-speed automatic, through the brand's staple quattro all-wheel-drive system in such a way as to hit 100km/h in 5.1 seconds (identical to the standard SQ5) but Audi claims the mid-range punch is where the gains are made.

Fuel consumption figures are also unchanged at 6.8 litres per 100km, which keeps the new addition to the line-up beneath the luxury car tax thirst threshold of 7.0L/100km.

The SQ5 Plus also retains the ‘sound actuators’ in each side of the exhaust system, designed to ramp up the sporty note, but it’s the addition of the quattro sport active torque vectoring rear differential as standard that will set it apart from the standard vehicle.

The system – exclusive to the SQ5 Plus – can also be adjusted by the drive select system to tailor levels within the various driving modes on offer.

Audi's sports SUV sits 30mm lower than a standard Q5, on modified springs and dampers, with a wider track and bigger brakes running changes for the mainstream model also included acoustic front side and windscreen glass.

The Plus sits on model-specific matte-finish 20-inch alloy wheels with Dunlop SP Sport Maxx tyres over red brake callipers grabbing the discs.

It also gets an interior trim makeover that brings Nappa leather with contrast-stitched silver diamond patterns, including on the instrument surround and carbon inlays throughout the cabin.Other feature list inclusions include satellite navigation, power-adjustable front seats, bi-Xenon headlights, parking sensors and a reversing camera, the now-familiar flat-bottomed Audi sports steering wheel, three-zone climate control and a ten-speaker sound system.

The safety list already has eight airbags (driver and front passenger front, side airbags for both rows and side-head-curtain airbags for front and rear passengers) but is further bolstered for the Plus edition with adaptive cruise control (with Stop & Go function), tyre pressure monitoring and autonomous emergency braking.

Trainspotters will also pick the ‘clasped’ rear tailpipe design and numerous high-gloss black exterior trim additions as signifying the SQ5 in the traffic next to them is a Plus edition.

Audi Australia managing director Andrew Doyle anticipates continuing growth from the sports stars of the Audi range, although Audi personnel will not be drawn on plans for the RS4, even though the incoming S4 will be offered in sedan and wagon guises.

“With the all new SQ7 TDI later this year and the all new S4, for the first time ever we will offer either or an S, RS or both in some cases, across our entire model range.”“Never before have we been able to offer this to our customers, it shows the proportion of performance car sales we deliver at Audi can only indeed strengthen,” he said.

Audi launched the current-generation Q5 back in early 2009 and the second-generation version is expected to be uncovered this year.

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