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The Audi SQ5's restrained styling hides a slightly mean streak. Picture: SUPPLIED
The Audi SQ5's restrained styling hides a slightly mean streak. Picture: SUPPLIED

The SQ5 has received updates rolled out with the latest generation of the Q5 range that also introduced a Sportback derivative. You can also have the SQ5 in coupe form, which competes in the junior-dragon segment against the BMW X3/X4 M40i, Mercedes-AMG GLC/Coupe 43 and Porsche Macan S.

The SQ5 is an exception, though. BMW, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche also make the wilder X3M Competition, GLC63 and Macan GTS, whereas Audi doesn’t offer a fuller-bodied RS version. This means the friskiest Q5 on sale has a somewhat restrained public persona with no cartoonish bulges that may bamboozle the uninitiated. But there’s enough distinguishing sauce from the nondescript lower-rung Q5s through larger wheel sizes and a ride height lowered by 27mm.

It’s a similar story inside. Kitted out in typical Audi neatness with a few standard equipment and sporty undertones, it isn’t all that different to other high-spec Q-SUVs. Then again, that’s an excellent thing. The build quality and tactility is top-notch and it feels opulent, with a digital suaveness of a touch-operated screen and voice commands. It’s a comfy perch on electrically operated and mildly bolstered seats with leather covering in stylish diamond-quilt patterns. 

A look at the compartment reveals enough room in the back for a family of three or four at a squeeze on rear seats that can also be flattened to increase loading space. But SQ5 buyers should be more concerned with its sprinting abilities. There’s no barking V8 or warbling turbo five-cylinder.

Instead, it’s a 3.0l V6 with outputs of 260kW and 500Nm. The power figure alone is the lowest in the segment, if you were wondering, but it matches the Beemer on torque.

It's got adjustable settings for the engine/transmission and also ride height. Picture: SUPPLIED
It's got adjustable settings for the engine/transmission and also ride height. Picture: SUPPLIED

This makes the SQ5 impressively tractable, but its 0-100km/h sprint time of 5.4 seconds means it’s beaten by all and sundry in a drag race. Top speed in all of the protagonists is 250km/h except in the Macan S, which goes all the way to 259km/h.

On twisty roads, the body feels well controlled thanks to an adaptive suspension and the all-paw traction from its quattro system. Even with dynamic mode activated, it tackles corners with a safe, fast and efficient gait rather than a flamboyant technique.

The SQ5 is road-biased, but the air suspension system can raise and lower the ride height as required for any gravel tracks. Regardless, you’re never in any doubt that the 3.0l and quattro AWD system deliver the goods and it’s a lovely engine to keep in a purr. The seven-speed automatic transmission is a slick unit, with imperceptible shifts when in comfort mode that add to the satisfaction of wafting.

In this mode, it’s one of the most comfortable, warm cross-over SUVs you can buy. Another upside is fuel consumption, which hovered at 8.5l/100km. Decrease speed to 100km/h and it’ll consume an even more welcome 7.9l/100km on average.

Though tempted to declare the SQ5 a bit of a mixed bag, it’s easy to recommend if you’re in the market for something with a prestige badge and enough practicality to carry four or five people safely and comfortably, and at a good price. 

But there’s no getting away from it: if you are hoping for the kind of loudness and punchy shove and transmission upshifts that pin you back in your seat like in the BMW X3 M40i, you will not find them in the SQ5.

The interior is neat and spacious, with stylish seats. Picture: SUPPLIED
The interior is neat and spacious, with stylish seats. Picture: SUPPLIED

Tech Specs

ENGINE

Type: Six-cylinder petrol turbo

Capacity: 3.0l

Power: 260kW

Torque: 500Nm

TRANSMISSION

Type: Seven-speed auto

DRIVETRAIN

Type: All-wheel drive

PERFORMANCE

Top speed: 250km/h

 0-100km/h: 5.4 sec (claimed)

Fuel Consumption: 9.2l/100km (as claimed), 8.5l/100km (as tested)

Emissions: 211g/km

STANDARD FEATURES

Electric windows, LED daytime driving running lights, auto on/off lights, multifunction steering wheel controls, heated electric adjust mirrors, Bluetooth, Isofix child seat mountings, leather upholstery, climate control, navigation, park distance control front, cruise control, rain sensor wipers, driving modes, sports suspension, tyre pressure monitor, ABS, stability control, six airbags

COST OF OWNERSHIP

Warranty: Two years/unlimited km

Maintenance plan: Five years/100,000km

Price: R1,208,000

Lease: R25,761 a month

* at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit

Audi SQ5 Quattro

WE LIKE: Interior build quality, refined drive quality, fuel consumption

WE DISLIKE: Could be more exciting

VERDICT: More warm than hot SUV

Motor News star rating

Design *****

Performance  ***

Economy *****

Ride *****

Handling ****

Safety *****

Value For Money *****

Overall *****

Competition

BMW X3 M40i, 285kW/500Nm — R1,415,042

Mercedes-Benz GLC43 AMG, 287kW/530Nm — R1,314,630

Porsche Macan S, 280kW/520Nm — R1,271,000

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