Car Reviews

Quick Spin: 2016 Audi SQ5 Plus… driving the fastest accelerating diesel SUV on sale in Australia

Here is the 2016 Audi SQ5 Plus, Australia’s fastest diesel SUV, we got to take it for a very quick spin at its local launch.

2016 Audi SQ5 Plus

PRICE $108,900 (+ORC) WARRANTY 3 years / unlimited km SAFETY not rated ENGINE 3.0L turbo v6 POWER 250kW@ 4100-4300 rpm TORQUE 700Nm @ 1500-2550 rpm TRANSMISSION 8 speed automatic DRIVE all-WHEEL DRIVE 40/60 f/r split BODY 4644 mm (L);  1911mm (W); 1624mm (H) seats 5 TARE WEIGHT 2000kg TOWING 2000kg braked FUEL TANK 75 litres SPARE  none THIRST 6.8 L/100km ADR81/02 combined cycle FUEL diesel 0-100km: 5.1 seconds top speed : 250km/h (electronically limited)

What is it?

FIRST, LET’S EXPLAIN THE NAME. To many people, a “Q” car is a sleeper. Meaning, a car which has performance far beyond its everyday looks, so named after the master inventor Q in the James Bond movies and novels who created gadget cars that looked ordinary. But to Audi, a Q car is a SUV… even if this car is also a Q car in the Bond tradition.

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The “S” part denotes a sportier version of a Q, and then we have the Plus which means it’s a sportier version of an S. So the SQ5 Plus is a diesel SUV that’s super-sporty – which means in this case 250kW of power and 700Nm of torque delivered via an 8-speed gearbox to a quattro all-wheel-drive system. Acceleration from 0-100 km/h is 5.1 seconds which is as quick as some Porsche 911s, and about as quick as the likes of the Mitsubishi Evo and Subaru WRX STi. There’s a torque vectoring rear differential, and Audi have upgraded the brakes too. The standard SQ5 is good for 240kW.

The SQ5 Plus also has what Audi reckon is a first – roofrail detection. If the roofrails are fitted then that’s detected by the car and the stability control system is remapped. It can’t detect load, just the presence of the rails.

Prices

  • SQ5 – $92,600 plus onroad costs
  • SQ5 Plus – $108,900 plus onroad costs

Key features

  • 20″ wheels
  • Interior design including leather, carbon inlays
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
  • Rear tailpipe design
  • Driver drowsiness detection

What’s it like?

We had a chance to drive an SQ5 Plus on a brief road loop, nowhere near enough time for a proper test, but nevertheless, we’ve formed a few first impressions. The engine, as you’d expect, is glorious, never short of the sort of satisfying low-down urge you get from powerful diesels, especially with as many as eight gear ratios.

Audi know how to make a good all-wheel-drive system too, so grip is never in question either, and a big, big difference here to most SUVs is that the quattro system has a rear-bias torque split; 60% rear, 40% front. This is in contrast to lower-end SUVs which are rear-drive-on-demand, driving the front wheels almost exclusively, then sending torque to the rears only as and when the fronts start to struggle. This is fine for bimbling around town following Camrys, but it’s a much, much more pleasurable drive when all four wheels are being driven properly all the time, and it’s safer too as you’re less likely to lose traction in the first place. The advantage to on-demand systems is fuel efficiency, but at 6.8L / 100km combined the 4.6m long SQ5 Plus is hardly a fuel-guzzler.  

The interior is, after the RS 6, RS 7 and S 8 Plus, spartan by comparison but if you got into it from another car it’d feel upmarket if not as chock full of toys as some less expensive but high-spec vehicles. Handling is good for a SUV – not up with the sharpest of competitors, but you will never slow up traffic in this vehicle, and again the quattro system helps driveability. The Plus has a lower ride height by 30mm than even the Q5, so this is no offroad-oriented vehicle, more an all-wheel-drive system for slippery conditions.

You might think that such a powerful vehicle with a good all-wheel-drive system would be a top choice for towing, but sadly no – maximum braked tow capacity is a mere 2000kg, so those looking to pull horse floats, big boats and the like will need to look elsewhere.

We’ll need to wait until we can test the car properly over a week, but for the moment if you want a rapid, fuel-efficient premium SUV this one looks like it should be somewhere on your shortlist. 

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Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper