Audi SQ5 TDI 2020 Review


So its cheaper than its rivals, has more power than its predecessor and looks like a million bucks… it really is a cool looking SUV, you have to admit.

Interestingly though, it seems to be lacking some creature comforts one would expect with a price tag of over $100K.

Check out this review from CarSales and you be the judge.


After a few years in the wilderness, the diesel-powered Audi SQ5 has returned to Australian showrooms.

Now, if you cast your mind back to 2013, you might remember that this vehicle helped define the mid-sized performance SUV segment. Let’s see whether the latest model can continue the legacy.

Audi was onto a clear winner when the original SQ5 touched down in Australia seven years ago. Its first diesel-powered S model and first S-badged SUV, the SQ5 blended a punchy yet efficient drivetrain with understated styling, practical internals and a relatable starting price of under 85K.

Fast forward to the end of 2020, and Audi is looking to rekindle interest in the diesel SQ5 for the first time in more than three years, offering 240 examples of the oiler alongside the existing petrol-powered SQ5.

The SQ5 TDI Special Edition is priced from $104,900 plus on-road costs, undercutting the like-minded BMW X3 M40i and Mercedes Benz GLC 43. However, that price is $20,000 more than the original SQ5 from 2013 and puts it within $5,000 of the brilliant Porsche Macan GTS.

Just like the original SQ5, the cabin execution inside the updated version is fantastic, beautiful virtual cockpit display, nice instrumentation and decent spatial proportions across the first and second rows.

Now, you will note that a lot of the displays, especially in the centre fascia, aren’t up-to-date with some of Audi’s newest models, but it’s still a really nice presentation nonetheless. Where the SQ5 really shows its age is infotainment. The centre screen is small and misses out on touch capability, and the switch gear looks and feels last generation.

Odds-and-ends storage is also limited, criticisms that will no doubt be addressed with the face-lifted Q5 range in 2021, while the boot area is big enough for a couple of large suitcases, housing a space-saver spare tire underneath.

Forget infotainment and storage, the real focal point here is the SQ5’s engine, 3.0 litre turbocharged diesel V6 with 255 kilowatts and 700 Newton-meters. Now, those figures are one thing, but it’s the claimed performance and efficiency that you get from the SQ5 that helps set it apart.

So naught to 100 in 5.1 seconds, that’s three-tenths faster than the petrol-powered SQ5, against a claimed fuel consumption average of just 6.8 litres per 100Ks. Those are relatable, real-world figures, and the good news is that they’re all relatively achievable on the road as well.

The efficiency performance threshold is owed in small part to a new mild-hybrid setup that includes a starter alternator and an electrically powered compressor that spins up to reduce turbo lag.

The latest SQ5 employs a single variable geometry turbocharger compared with the twin-turbo configuration of its predecessor. If you really wanna wake up the response, there is also an optional $3,000 Quattro Sport diff.

The mild hybrid system is virtually imperceptible on the road. The SQ5 will cut out just as you’re coming up to a stop, and occasionally, if you’re in Efficiency setting on the highway and you’re in a coasting scenario, it will also cut out the engine there as well to save fuel.

All told, you’ll save about 0.4 litres per 100Ks according to Audi, and it does help build into the SQ5’s inherent efficiency. There is a slight tardiness upon initially applying the accelerator where the engine’s almost thinking what to do with all that torque, but beyond that, rolling acceleration is simply effortless and the go-forward is really quite impressive. It almost sounds as though you’re in a V8 or a V12 with the sound track that’s on offer, but the go-forward in the SQ5 once you’re up and running is simply effortless.

Overtaking manoeuvres, getting up to highway speed or just a kick in the gut if you wanna go through a really nice set of corners is really quite inspiring and rewarding, especially for a 2.2-ton diesel SUV. Complementing what’s under the bonnet, the SQ5 rides on 21-inch wheels and adaptive dampers and pulls up by a huge 375 mm front disk brakes. There’s also the option of adaptive air suspension, which adds a further $2,150 to the purchase price. Now, of course, the sporty premise isn’t infallible.

You will note a small amplitude imperfection starting through the cabin, and larger hits do make quite a pronounced thud as well. But importantly, there is very little head toss inside the cabin, and it just stays composed and flat, no matter what kind of road you’re driving on. We’re tackling some fairly gnarly country B-Grade roads today, and the SQ5 is taking all of it in its stride. Otherwise, refinement is quite good. Road noise and wind noise are kind of where you’d expect them to be for a performance SUV.

The SQ5 TDI cements its positioning with typical luxury inclusions and a suite of safety features befitting of the price tag. All told, the diesel option of an SQ5 makes a lot of sense. Much has changed in the seven years since the original SQ5 touched down in Australia, but I gotta say, its diesel performance is as relatable as ever. The latest model does lose a little bit of its shine with the ageing infotainment system and interior interface, the $20,000 higher starting price, and the fact that Audi’s three-year warranty is down on key rivals, including Mercedes Benz. But from a performance point of view, the SQ5 is exactly where it needs to be.


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