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Audi SQ5: Putting the sport in SUV

By Ghaith Madadha - Oct 02,2017 - Last updated at Oct 02,2017

Photo courtesy of Audi

The sportier performance version of Audi’s second generation follow-up to the Ingolstadt automaker’s highly popular premium mid-size Q5 SUV, the new SQ5 is a cautiously evolutionary all-new model. A more eager drive than its predecessor, the new SQ5 makes significant efficiency gains and features extensive high tech driving aids and infotainment systems.

Launched globally earlier in the year and in the Middle East just last week, the SQ5 primarily competes with the likes of the Mercedes-AMG GLC43, Volvo XC60 T6 and Jaguar F-Pace, but also old hands such as the Infiniti QX50 in terms of size and sporty driving characteristics.

A more sure-footed and car-like character than its predecessor, the SQ5 shares the same turbocharged 3-litre V6 engine and latest incarnation MLB platform as the Audi S5 and S4. Though riding higher than its sporty performance coupe, saloon and estate siblings, the SQ5 also shares the same and more sophisticated five-link front suspension design and lighted suspension components for a lower un-sprung weight and tidier, more precise driving character. 

Only slightly bigger in most directions than the car it replaces, the new SQ5 nonetheless feels smaller and more agile, and with more body and construction aluminium, achieves significant weight loss.

Designed with emphasis on the horizontal plane, the new SQ5’s broader grille, multi-slat side intakes, more scalloped bonned edges and squintier, more heavily browed headlights with aggressive outward double check LED signature all lend a wider, fuller and more road-hugging appearance. 

Snoutier and with a thick metallic outline, the new SQ5’s grille and seemingly more rakish roofline lend a greater sense of momentum, while sharper character lines and ridges combine with more muscular wheels-arches and shoulders for a more assertive presence. Meanwhile, waistline-mounted side mirror stalks are slimmer and downwards-tilted dual exhaust tips hide behind faux rear fascia-integrated quad exhaust exits.

 

More go and growl

 

Powered by a reworked 3-litre V6 engine, the new SQ5 trades its predecessor’s supercharged induction for a twin-scroll turbocharger, and retains almost unchanged performance, with 0-100km/h dispatched in 5.4-seconds and an electronically-capped 250km/h top speed.

Developing the same 349BHP, the new SQ5, however, serves this over a broader and slightly lower 5400-6400rpm band, while torque output is significantly improved from 347lb/ft at 4000-4500rpm to a brawnier 368lb/ft over a wider and more flexibly accessible 1370-4500rpm. With new turbo induction, free-wheeling auto gearbox ability, improved thermal management, lower 1870kg weight and lower CD0.34 aerodynamics, the new SQ5 makes considerable fuel efficiency improvements.

Returning 8.5l/100km combined compared to 12.3l/100km, the new SQ5’s performance is an evolutionary improvement, with increased torque and reduced weight translating into better mid-range response and muscle. Slightly different in delivery, the turbocharged SQ5 is quick off the mark with virtually no turbo lag owing to optimised gas flow paths and valve timing. 

Almost as immediate from idling engine speed and high-revving as the outgoing supercharged SQ5, the new model is, however, much improved throughout, with excellent low-end responses, high-end urge and considerably more capable mid-range. Subtly growling, the new SQ5’s power builds progressively and is effortlessly underwritten by a wave of near constant torque.

Tidy and grippy

Reflected its shorter front and rear overhangs and a sportier, slightly more rearwards design aesthetic, the new SQ5 also drives with more car-like finesse, eagerness and control. With new sophisticated five-link suspension and lighter mass, the SQ5 seems tidier and more eager into corners, with its permanent Quattro for wheel drive dividing power with a default 60 per cent rear bias for a sportier more agile drive.

With its engine slung low and just ahead of the front axle, the SQ5’s body roll is minimised, and when pushed hard and tight into a corner, its threshold to understeer seemed much improved during a test drive on lush green mountain routes in Salalah, Oman.

With quick, meaty and direct steering and legendry Quattro road-holding, the SQ5’s longer wheelbase further improves stability and space. Power can be diverted by up to 85 per cent rearwards and 70 per cent frontwards as necessary and torque vectoring selectively brakes inside wheels into corners, while agility can be further improved by an optional limited-slip differential, which allocates power along the rear axle for better cornering finesse, traction and grip.

A more buttoned down and tidier drive than its predecessor, the SQ5’s optional adaptive air suspension delivers good body control through corners and settled vertical control over imperfections in “dynamic” mode. “Comfort” mode provides a smooth, refined and more forgiving ride that takes the edge off optional sporty low-profile 255/40R21 tyres.

Smooth and centred

Driving all wheels through a slick and quick-shifting 8-speed automatic gearbox, the SQ5 has a broad range of ratios including shorter lower gears for responsive performance and taller upper ratios for smooth refinement and efficiency. 

Well equipped with driver assistance safety systems, the SQ5 is available with lane, rear cross-path and parking assistance. Also available are adaptive control with traffic jam assistance that can handle some steering duties and collision avoidance and turn assistance systems, while Audi’s pre-sense city system is standard, and can warn the driver about pedestrians and vehicles, and even initiate emergency braking, within its operational parameters. 

Sporty and classy inside, the SQ5’s uncluttered cabin features clear instrumentation and an emphasis on horizontal design. Brimming with high tech infotainment features including smartphone integration and wifi hotspot capability, the SQ5 also features a slim tablet-style infotainment screen and configurable 12.3-inch configurable Virtual cockpit instrument panel.

Decked out with quality materials and textures, the SQ5 features contrast stitched leather steering and quilted leather seats, while driving position is supportive and adjustable, with good visibility and seating, steering, pedals and instrument display alignment is perfectly centred for the driver. Mostly spacious inside, the SQ5 handily features sliding rear seats that allow an additional 10mm legroom for tall passengers.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

Engine: 3-litre, turbocharged, in-line V6-cylinders

Bore x stroke: 84.5 x 89mm

Compression ratio: 11.2:1

Valve-train: 24-valve, DOHC, direct injection

Gearbox: 8-speed automatic, four-wheel-drive

Ratios: 1st 4.714; 2nd 3.143; 3rd 2.106; 4th 1.667; 5th 1.285; 6th 1.0; 7th 0.839; 8th 0.667

Reverse/final drive: 3.317/2.848

Drive-line: self-locking centre differential

Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 349 (354) [260] @5400-6400rpm

Specific power: 116.5BHP/litre

Power-to-weight: 179.4BHP/tonne (kerb)

Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 368 (500) @1370-4500rpm

Specific torque: 167Nm/litre

Torque-to-weight: 257Nm/tonne (kerb)

0-100km/h: 5.4-seconds

Top speed: 250km/h

Fuel consumption, urban/extra-urban/combined:

11-/7.1-/8.5-litres/100km 

CO2 emissions, combined: 195g/km

Fuel capacity: 70-litres

Aerodynamic drag co-efficient: 0.34

Unladen/kerb weight: 1870kg/1945kg

Steering: Electric-assisted rack & pinion

Suspension: Multi-link, anti-roll bars, adaptive air suspension

Brakes: Ventilated discs

Tyres: 255/40R21

 

Price, starting at: JD83,881

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