The original SQ5 represented Audi’s first ever diesel-fueled S model when it arrived with a thumping 309bhp three-litre V6 oilburner in 2013.
Fast forward to summer 2017 and the second generation SQ5 has just gone on sale and the diesel has been ditched, not unsurprising following the Dieselgate scandal that continues to plague the VW Group.
This time, the high-performance mid-size SUV uses a newly adopted petrol-powered 349bhp V6 TFSI. With 500Nm of torque available, it can thunder to 62mph from a standstill in 5.4 seconds, which sounds quick – and it is – but it’s actually a third of a second slower than the preceding SQ5. Eek!
At least it looks dapper with 20-inch wheels capped with five twin-spoke alloys, striking LED headlights and a twin exhaust.
The UK motoring press recently got their hands on the new SQ5, so what do they make of it?
Car Magazine’s Ian Adcock was struck by the SQ5’s 349bhp power output. “That figure would have been unthinkable just a few years ago in a blown petrol engine” he wrote before noting the advances that have been made in internal combustion engine technology”.
So does it translate to a bracing straight line sprint? Apparently so. Adcock confirms that “performance is strong, but not earth shattering”.
Autocar’s Nic Cackett wasn’t impressed by the SQ5’s slower 0-62mph time, especially considering the fact that the standard Porsche Macan was conceived with a sub-five-second sprint.
Sam Naylor from Auto Express reckons that performance “isn’t lacking” but bemoans the fact that the SQ5 has to be “worked much harder” to reap the same kind of sensation enjoyed in the torquier diesel SQ5.
In a straight line, the SQ5 is undoubtedly quick, but in the corners, the car lacks agility, Sam writes.
He adds that the eight-speed auto gearbox isn’t as responsive as the VW Group’s brilliant DSG dual-clutch box and feels “reluctant to change down when you really need it to”.
Car Magazine found that on the 20-inch rims that come as standard, the SQ5 rode calmly, but they drove it on Germany’s super smooth roads; it may not be such a joy on Britain’s rougher surfaces.
Meanwhile, Autocar pointed out that the SQ5’s height and bulk mean you can’t really drive it like a two-seater in the same way you can with the Macan.
Auto Express noted that at speed, the SQ5 feels unsettled, which is the same with its standard Q5 brother. However, despite falling short of the ride quality in Mercedes’ GLC, it was calm and quiet at cruising speeds.
Autocar reckons the SQ5’s cabin feels expensive “almost everywhere”, thanks to its “solid and smooth switchgear and gleaming satin chrome”.
Auto Express hailed the interior as “superb” and “one of the best in its class”, due to the neat, clean design, high-quality materials, 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit instrument dials and finely tuned 8.3-inch infotainment system.
They go on compliment the plush comfortable seats and the amount of room in the rear.
Audi wants at least £51,200 for its SQ5 – a couple of grand more than the GLC 43 and close to £3,000 more than the Macan S, which is widely deemed to be the real leader in the performance mid-size SUV market.
Auto Express also believes the SQ5 is quite pricey, with the GLC 43 offering better value as well as a more fun and refined experience at high speeds.
Should I buy one?
Not unless you really want one.
The verdict across the board is so-so with three star reviews from Auto Express and Evo, while Autocar awarded it an extra half-star.
Autocar’s chief tester Matt Saunders reckons the car tries to be too many things to too many people, and as a result “bites off more than it can chew”.
Car Magazine’s Ian Adcock doesn’t seem to think that the £50k-plus asking price nor the remote-feeling steering will get in the way of the SQ5 continuing to make up a fifth of Q5 sales.
He signs off with: “For many, this will be the new benchmark in the sporty middleweight SUV sector”.