£51,955 Price range
The SQ5 looks almost identical to the standard Q5 – no bad thing – but gets a few sporty touches to help it stand out from a sea of 2.0-litre diesels. A revised grille, aluminium-effect door-mirror caps and chrome detailing on the rear bumper – with four fake exhaust tips – are all unique to the model.
Under the SQ5’s bonnet you’ll find a 3.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine in place of the old car’s diesel. This 354hp V6 has been borrowed from the rapid S5 coupe and drives all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The combination of excellent levels of grip and near-instant boost from the turbo means this high-riding SUV will sprint from 0-62mph in just 5.4 seconds – that’s faster than some hot hatches. Including very quick ones, such as the outgoing Honda Civic Type R…
Thankfully, the SQ5’s a lot more comfortable than the Honda. As standard, it comes with adaptive suspension that’ll let you choose between sporty or more comfortable settings but the optional adaptive air suspension irons out bumps better than any other sporty SUV on the market. It’ll also automatically lower the car’s ride height at speed to make it more stable or you can raise it by 45mm if you fancy doing a spot of light off-roading.
A clever Torque Control feature that brakes individual wheels to help it turn more tightly make the SQ5 far more fun to drive than the standard Q5. An optional sports rear differential is also available to help it accelerate more briskly out of corners but unless you’re planning on taking your new car to the track, you’ll probably not notice the difference.
Despite its extra turn of speed, the SQ5 doesn’t lean any more than the standard car in tight corners and it feels remarkably stable on fast backroads. The special acoustic windscreen does a great job of muting wind noise and there’s barely a whistle from the door mirrors – even at motorway speed. Tyre roar is more muffled than in other large SUVs, too.
Inside, you’ll find one of the best interiors in the premium SUV market. It’s packed full of high-tech features and everything feels fantastically well built. A set of metal trim pieces, contrasting stitching and highly supportive leather seats make the SQ5 feel significantly more special inside than the standard car.
Rather disappointingly, Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit system – a customisable digital display that replaces conventional analogue dials – doesn’t come fitted as standard. It’s well worth paying a little extra for, however – the crisp 12.3-inch screen looks fantastic and makes it a breeze to follow sat nav directions without taking your eyes off the road.
Inputting postcodes is easy thanks to an intuitive swivel wheel controller and a laptop-like touchpad on the centre console that’ll let you write out letters and numbers with your finger. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity functions are standard so you can use your phone’s built-in sat nav or music streaming features if you don’t like Audi’s own systems.
Also available is an optional panoramic glass roof in place of the standard – and slightly claustrophobic – black headlining. It fills the SQ5’s cabin with light and makes the already plentiful headroom feel nearly endless.
The front seats are incredibly supportive and feature thickly bolstered sides that hold you firmly in place through tight corners. They’re so well padded, in fact, you may find it slightly difficult to jump in and out of you’re not particularly tall.
In the back you’ll find generous knee, leg and headroom and there’s enough shoulder room to seat three six-footers abreast. The central rear seat is, however, a little smaller, harder and slightly more cramped than the outer two and a huge lump in the floor cuts into foot space considerably.
The SQ5’s 550-litre boot is easily big enough to carry two large and two small suitcases while a baby buggy or a set of golf clubs will slide in with plenty of room to spare. Unfortunately, there’s a slight load lip, unlike the Mercedes-AMG GLC 43, that makes sliding in heavy or bulky items a bit of a pain. You can’t adjust the boot floor height either, and there’s nowhere to store the load cover.
Fold the rear seats down in a 40:20:40 split using the handy levers in the boot and its capacity grows to a capacious 1,550-litres – more than enough room to carry a bike without removing its wheels. It’s not quite as spacious as the 1,740-litre Jaguar F-Pace S but it’s 50 litres roomier than the boot you’ll find in a Porsche Macan S.
There are a number of handy cubby holes dotted around the cabin including a storage tray for your phone that’ll not only slide neatly away under the armrest, but comes with wireless charging features, too. The glovebox is fairly generous and the door bins are huge – even the rear doors can hold two bottles of water with room to spare.
The standard Q5 received a hugely impressive five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP in 2017. The SQ5 is expected to perform equally well thanks to its identical selection of active safety kit, including automatic emergency city braking.
So the SQ5 makes a compelling case for itself. It feels more premium inside than offerings from Mercedes, BMW or Jaguar and easily outclasses these cars in terms of high-tech equipment. It might not be the sportiest SUV on the market, but it offers a near unbeatable balance of comfort, class and excitement.