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First drive: Audi SQ5 lands at $89,400

Green meanie: The Audi SQ5 sprints to 100km/h in just 5.1 seconds yet avoids the luxury car tax cut-off.

Diesel-powered Audi SQ5 super-SUV hits Aussie roads from under $90k

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3 May 2013

AUDI has at last launched the fastest diesel-powered SUV in Australia, and for that matter the world – the SQ5 TDI.

Costing from $89,400 plus on-road costs – somewhat less than anticipated – it is also the first “S” badged SUV in the Ingolstadt-based company’s artillery, and not the last if the newcomer proves a success.

The lower entry point is due to luxury car tax breaks for vehicles that use no more than 7.0 litres per 100 kilometres on their combined fuel use figure. Although the SQ5 TDI will sprint to 100km/h in 5.1 seconds and is electronically limited to 250km/h, it is still capable of officially averaging a combined 6.8L/100km.

Additionally, 60 value-added “Launch Edition” models were allocated to Australian buyers, featuring gear normally reserved for the options list for an extra $14,730 on top of the regular SQ5 TDI price.

It brings 21-inch five-star twin-spoke alloy wheels, Audi’s three-mode dynamic steering, Bang and Olufsen audio with digital radio, heated front and rear seats, more aluminium trim, a luggage rail system, automatic high beam dipper, “Carbon Atlas” inlays, a partition net, alarm, and darker glass from the rear doors back.

The bundle is a sizeable saving compared with the price of individual options and, as they were built about a month before regular Australian SQ5 TDI production started, cuts delivery time to weeks, not months.

However, most of the limited-run cars are already sold.

Buoyed by unusually high uptake of the more expensive 3.0-litre supercharged petrol and turbo diesel V6 models, Audi expects the SQ5 TDI flagship will account for as many as three out of every 10 Q5s sold in Australia.

Audi will offer a single high-performance model for the time being, significantly undercutting BMW’s larger rival sport/luxury SUV diesel offerings, the X5 M50d (from $147,500 before on-roads) and X6 M50d ($157,500).

Although both use three turbochargers with an in-line six-cylinder engine, the Audi shades each for performance.

At the heart of the SQ5 TDI is a variation of the 3.0-litre bi-turbo diesel V6 introduced in the A6 and A7 Sportback earlier this year.

Displacing 2967cc, and using common rail and direct injection technology, it delivers 230kW of power between 3900 and 4500rpm, and 650Nm of torque from 1450 to 2800rpm.

As with all Q5s, it uses Audi’s full-time Quattro all-wheel-drive system. The transmission is a traditional torque converter automatic with eight gears, as Audi’s current line-up of dual-clutch automatic gearboxes was not deemed strong enough to handle the forces generated.

To help cap fuel use, the German car-maker’s engineers optimised the SQ5 TDI’s thermal management, fitted idle-stop technology, a braking energy recovery system, and a regulated oil pump.

For owners more interested in pace, Audi has wrought a number of changes underneath, including a stiffer sports suspension with modified springs and dampers, a 30mm drop in ride height, and 255/45 20-inch tyres. Wider tracks and bigger brake discs are also fitted.

As with the A6 and A7 Sportback models, the exhaust system includes a sound actuator that amplifies the V6 engine’s noise to give it a sportier, less diesel-like note.

Compared with regular Q5s, a grey single-frame grille fitted with a number of horizontal, rather than vertical, bars identify the SQ5 TDI.

The bars are repeated on the redesigned bumper’s lower air intakes, while a subtle body kit with side sills, traditional performance model aluminium-look mirror housings, roof-mounted spoiler, and elliptical quad tailpipes complete the go-fast effect.

Black hues predominate inside with sports seats finished in Nappa leather and Alcantara material, and brushed aluminium trim on the dashboard, console, and doors.

Standard features include Audi’s more advanced audio and navigation system, a reversing camera, flat-bottomed steering wheel, tyre-pressure monitors, and electric adjustment with memory settings for the front seats and exterior mirrors.

A full five-seater, the newcomer’s luggage capacity is rated at 580 litres, or 1560 litres with the three-way split/fold and sliding rear seats pushed down.

The SQ5 TDI includes most of the upgrades introduced to the three-year-old SUV range late last year.

Bookending a 2813mm wheelbase, the front suspension is a five-link independent arrangement, while the rear is made up of a trapezoidal link. Electromechanical rack and pinion steering with speed-dependent power assistance also makes the grade.

To help save weight and/or beef up strength, the bonnet, tailgate, front cross member and crash boxes all use aluminium – although most of the body consists of steel and the kerb weight is a hefty 1850kg.

Towing capacity is rated at 2000kg.

No spare wheel is fitted, although a space-saver spare is expected by the end of this year. Until then, buyers will get a tyre inflation kit.

Audi believes the lower-than-expected pricing and segment-busting performance will attract more than 600 buyers in the SQ5’s first year on sale, including some who may cross-shop the SQ5 TDI against more traditional luxury sedans or wagons.

“I’m very confident that Australian luxury car buyers will love this vehicle,” Audi Australia managing director Andrew Doyle said.

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