Car Reviews

2018 Audi Q5 and SQ5 Review

Alex Rae’s 2018 Audi Q5 and SQ5 Review with pricing, spec, performance, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.

In a nutshell: The polished Audi Q5 and SQ5 is set to continue sales success for the German brand.

2018 Audi Q5 and SQ5

PRICE From $65,900+ORC

WARRANTY 3 years/unlimited km

ENGINE 2.0L turbocharged petrol four-cylinder; 2.0L turbocharged diesel four-cylinder; 3.0L turbocharged V6 petrol 

POWER/TORQUE 185kW/370Nm; 140kW/400Nm; 260kW/500Nm

TRANSMISSION 7-speed DSG; 8-Speed automatic

DRIVE  all-wheel drive

DIMENSIONS 4663 (L), 1893mm (W EXC MIRRORS), 1659mm (H)

SPARE space saver

TOWING WEIGHT 750kg (UNBRAKED), 2400kg (BRAKED)

KERB WEIGHT 1795kg; 1845kg; 2055kg

SEATS 5

FUEL TANK 70 litres (petrol) 65 litres (diesel)

THIRST 7.3 L/100km, 5.3 L/100KM, 8.3L/100km combined cycle

FUEL petrol, diesel

AUDI INTRODUCED its first SUV – the Q7 – in 2006 and, in the decade since, the German brand’s sales have been booming. Today over 40 per cent of Audi sales are SUVs and of that the Q5 (introduced in 2009) claims the biggest slice of the pie – in Australia that’s over 24,000 sales, making it the most successful mid-size luxury SUV Down Under.

So the second-generation Q5 has some big shoes to fill. And, with a slower SQ5 offering than previous and the introduction of a new quattro system that isn’t in constant all-wheel drive, it could be a hard sell.

What is the Audi Q5 and SQ5?

The new Q5 and SQ5 is built on the new MLB Evo platform, which means the new model sheds almost 100kg off the old one and the SQ5 now shares the same platform and 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 engine as the red-hot Audi S4. There’s no announcement on whether we’ll get a diesel TDI powered SQ5 as per the last generation, although when questioned if it would come to Australia we were told “‘it would make sense at this stage” – watch this space.

The Audi SQ5.

For now at least, we ‘only’ get the 260kW/500Nm TFSI petrol which accelerates 0-100km/h in 5.4sec, 0.3sec slower than the old SQ5; we think it makes sense to expect Audi to introduce a quicker (under 5.0sec) TDI in the future, but this one offers plenty. The TFSI SQ5 is also a little more expensive than before, priced from $99,611 (+ORCs), but retains the 8-speed automatic and quattro system found in the last generation rather than using the new quattro ultra (read: retains full-time all-wheel drive). All of the extra kit in the SQ5 takes it weight to over 2000kg and, along with the bigger engine, it’s drinks the most fuel at 8.3L/100km.

The Q5 model range starts with the entry-level Q5 design 2.0 TDI ($65,900 +ORCs) and moves up to Q5 sport TDI ($70,700) and sport TFSI ($73,500). The diesel in all TDI models is a 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder producing 140kW and 400Nm. It consumes 5.2L/100km (0.7L/100km more efficient than previous) but is the slowest 0-100km/h in 7.9sec.

The Audi Q5 Sport TFSI.

The petrol TFSI model is powered by a 2.0-litre turbo petrol four-cylinder producing 185kW and 370Nm. It consumes 7.3L/100km (0.3L/100km more efficient than before) and accelerates 0-100km/h in 6.3sec – 0.6sec faster than previous. All Q5 models are mated to a 7-speed DSG automatic gearbox.

The fuel efficiency savings are due in part to the lower weight, tweaked engines and new ultra quattro system. The new quattro ultra is on all models but the SQ5 and is essentially all-wheel drive on demand, but done in a really well engineered Audi way. Audi claims the engagement is unnoticeable and that it’s impossible to discern when all-wheel drive is and is not operating compared to its previous quattro system. It also leads to improved fuel consumption because it completely disengages the rear axle unless needed.

What’s the interior of the Audi Q5 and SQ5 like?

As well as sharing the same platform as the Audi A4, the Q5 shares a very similar interior. Long horizontal design elements extenuate the dash and overall there’s a good feeling of space inside. There’s plenty of useful storage including a deep driver’s side compartment, sliding storage tray under the armrest centre and door pockets that fit a 1.5-litre bottle of water.

There’s plenty of room upfront with seats that offer good adjustment (and comfort). The rear seat sits a little higher and with the (cost option) comfort package offer reclining and sliding function. The boot is 550 litres large – 10 litres more than previous generation Q5 – and the optional 40:60 split-fold rear seat (part of comfort package) expands the space to 610 litres.

Roomy enough for a trip with some gear.

All models have leather seats inside but the SQ5 and (cost option) S line package adds Nappa leather seats with diamond pattern, which is familiar to the seats found in RS models. Both are comfortable but the diamond stitch Nappa does heighten the luxury feel.

The infotainment system is the same Audi MMI used in all current models and is displayed on a centrally mounted (not pop-up like A3) 8.8-inch screen. It’s glossy and sharp but a bigger unit would better rival some of the best. It offers good connectivity which means it has Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, DAB and Bluetooth along with Audi’s LTE 4G connected drive services. It can also provide a wifi hotspot for up to eight devices.

The (cost option) technik package adds a 19-speaker Bang&Olufsen ‘3D’ sound system which we tested back-to-back with the standard unit. It does add some staging and dimension but the standard system still sounds good, too.

All but the entry Q5 design TDI are fitted with Audi Virtual Cockpit as standard – a tried and tested 12.3-inch digital dash that offers excellent in-dash navigation and other vehicle information, along with the usual speedometer and tachometer. The SQ5 gets a unique screen with centered tachometer. The SQ5 and optional technik package also add a well implemented heads-up display which shows basic information such as the current speed and navigation guidance.

The special sporty SQ5 cockpit screen.

What are the Audi Q5 and SQ5 like on the road?

The Q5 design and sport TDI only differ in packaging; the engine and its performance feel similar across the two models. The engine is willing with a 0-100km/h sprint of 7.9sec and, although not exciting, it’s no slouch. It’s good on the highway and the most economical of the lot, so, if penny pinching, it provides a sound entry-level engine that doesn’t feel out of its depth.

The petrol TFSI engine found in the Q5 sport is a smoother and more energetic drive that provides not as good economy (2.0L/100km more thirsty) but does offer less resistance to get going off the line and makes a better town car. On the highway, it was a little more punchy than the diesel during a overtaking manoeuvres and was more fun when tackling twisting sections of road due to its sharper throttle response. But the flagship performance variant (for now) is the SQ5.

The SQ5 has plenty of punch and the claimed almost 5.0sec 0-100km/h spec feels accurate. It’s willing to continue accelerating with aplomb through to overtaking speed on the highway and there’s 500Nm of torque available from very early in the rev range to redline. The engine is brutally powerful when considering it is shifting over 2ton of mass, yet it’s refined when negotiating traffic and stop-start situations. For those on the fence wondering if a quicker TDI might come, the TFSI SQ5 offers all of the goods you probably want and Audi product planning manager, Peter Strudwicke hinted to us it’s probably a bit quicker than the claimed acceleration time anyway. There’s also plenty of burbles and farts from the SQ5 in sport mode… Even if the exhaust tips aren’t real.

So a good range of engine options are available across the range, but the story is a little different when it comes to choosing the best suspensions bits.

During our extensive time driving the cars from Melbourne to Adelaide we found the adaptive suspension available as standard in the SQ5 was not as compliant as the fixed dampers in the Q5 Design and Sport. The range of dampening adjustment between comfort and sport was not very noticeable, and provides a flat, sporty but perhaps too hard ride (for general driving) in both settings. On the long trip we took it was intrusive when crossing rougher country roads but, thankfully, Audi is offering, for the first time in the Q5, air suspension.

The air suspension provides a noticeably more plush ride in comfort mode yet still provides good mid-corner bump control and confident handling. In sport mode it drops 15mm lower than the adaptive and fixed damper setups and provides good body control with a stiff but agile suspension response. As a $2150 cost option, the air suspension is a logical box to tick at this price point.

During our drive we also had some time to check out how the new quattro ultra which is fitted to all Q5 and not SQ5 models, works. Using an internal Audi software app that shows when the system is in front or all-wheel drive mode and what the system was thinking (predicting), we tried our best to trick the quattro into driving and slipping at the front. It was impossible regardless of road surface and weather conditions, and when all-wheel drive mode was disengaged it was too quick to engage that any spin could occur. Conversely, we discovered we drove on one drive leg in 99 per cent front-wheel drive mode without any noticeable difference to driving; very clever.

Audi tells us that by using the huge amount of data and research they’ve collected, the quattro ultra is programmed to understand the exact road conditions and micro-slip on each wheel, and engage the rear axle within a fraction of a second. Needless to say, it works, and there shouldn’t be any point where the quattro ultra in fact feels like a front-wheel drive car even though it usually is – make sense? Your wallet will thank it at the bowser.

What about the Audi Q5 and SQ5’s safety features?

The Audi Q5 has been awarded a 5-star ANCAP rating (tested 2017). Additional safety features in AEB at up to 85km/h, exit warning for rear protection, turn assist, adaptive cruise control and exit warning. Audi’s adaptive cruise control works well and provides a good range of distance settings to the car in front. It adjusts speed smoothly and doesn’t provide much cruise control creep over the set speed.

So, what do we think about the Audi Q5 and SQ5?

We’d pick the Q5 Sport TFSI from the range due to its energetic engine and extra bits of kit over the design model with sharp pricing, although the addition of the technik and s line package might be on the want list too. The SQ5 is fun to drive and comes with all of the goodies Audi is known for, and we wouldn’t bother waiting for the possibility of an updated SQ5 TDI unless you’re really fussy.

Editor's Rating

What's the interior like?
What's the infotainment system like?
What's it like on the road?
What about safety features?
Practical Motoring Says: It’s a safe bet to say that Audi’s second generation will be as successful as its first. If anything, with the popularity of SUVs now, we could see some pretty big sales numbers. And this is well justified given the amount of kit and range of good drivelines available across the lineup. The adaptive suspension tuning in the SQ5 is a little disappointing, but the low cost air suspension option fixes that.

  • Biff

    Hi Alex, thanks for the review. Can you confirm if the SQ5 requires 98 RON? I’m guessing it would.

    • PracticalMotoring

      Hi Biff, I checked with Audi and yes, it does require 98 RON. – Alex

      • Biff

        Thanks Alex, that really concentrates your mind on a vehicle’s fuel efficiency!

Alex Rae

Alex Rae

Alex Rae grew up among some of the great stages of Targa Tasmania, an event that sparked his passion for all things mechanical. Currently living across Bass Strait in Melbourne, Alex has worked for the last decade in the automotive world as both a photographer and journalist, and is now a freelancer for various publications. When not driving for work Alex can be found tinkering in the shed on of one his project Zeds or planning his next gravel rally car.