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Audi SQ5 TDI arrives with SQ7 compressor tech

Thought Audi's electrically-assisted diesel tech was dead? Think again

By Dafydd Wood / Thursday, February 21, 2019

When Audi stuck a 48v electrically-powered compressor onto the SQ7's 435hp, twin-turbo diesel V8 the results were striking. A 4.9-second 0-62mph time and power delivery which Dan T found to be "never less than shocking" made the 2,330kg brute a force to be reckoned with.

Imagine, then, if the same technology were to be applied to something less gargantuan. Still an SUV, of course, it is 2019 after all - but a smaller, less cumbersome one. Enter the Q5, at 1,770kg it's a relative flyweight and the perfect candidate to make even better use of the SQ7's set-up.

Audi clearly thinks so too, announcing today that the new SQ5 TDI will do exactly that. There's no V8 crammed under the bonnet, of course, the SQ5 making do with a 3.0-litre V6 and just the single turbo. That's still enough for 347hp and 516lb ft, though, and thanks to that same electrically-powered compressor (EPC) it'll likely feel just as rapid than its big brother, with acceleration "to highway speed" said to take just 5.1 seconds.

It'll be on the twistier roads that the impact will be most visible, however. The EPC is capable of spooling up to 65,000rpm in just 300 milliseconds, meaning peak torque is available from 2,500rpm, resulting in "instant and supreme power". Combined with an eight-speed tiptronic gearbox featuring "short, sporty ratios" in the lower gears, permanent quattro all-wheel drive and an optional rear sport differential, the SQ5 ought to cover ground like little else in its class.

To make sure it's up to the task the crankcase and cylinder heads have gained their own cooling circuits, while the crankshaft, pistons, connecting rods and oil management system have all been reconfigured to meet the increased demand placed upon them. Five-link suspension with damper control comes as standard front and rear, lowering the body by 30mm for increased stability, and the brake calipers are six-piston aluminium items to keep things under control.

All well and good; but if you're thinking this sounds spookily familiar, then there's a valid reason for it. Before the SQ5 was petrol it was originally a diesel, a bi-turbo V6 that in Plus form made 340hp (so just 7hp less than now) and 516lb ft, or exactly the same as with this new technology. The 0-62mph time was the same, the top speed the same... There are a lot of similarities, put it that way. It even extends to efficiency; previously the SQ5 TDI returned 42.8mpg and 174g/km, and now the car officially posts 172g/km and 42.8mpg. Huh. We're awaiting some clarity on the new car's WLTP status, because presumably this new SQ5 is a more efficient vehicle than the old one, but the situation is a curious one.

The new diesel SQ5 is marked out from the rest of the Q5 range with leather, Alcantara and brushed aluminium aplenty, while outside there are new bumpers, standard LED lights, a choice of 20- and 21-inch cast aluminium wheels and an exclusive 'Panther Black' paint. There's no word on UK pricing yet, but with a German RRP of €67,750 (around £59,000) having been confirmed, it seems that diesel isn't quite dead yet.

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