On the face of it, the new Audi SQ5 ticks a lot of boxes for the new car buyer in 2021. It carries the four rings on its nose, most obviously, combines SUV usability with coupe style (or so they tell you) and boasts mild hybrid technology to make customers feel better about buying a two-tonne car.
And yet it comes with a diesel engine. Once upon a time, that wouldn't have been newsworthy - the very first SQ5 launched with one, in fact - but clearly quite a lot has changed since 2012. To see a compression ignition engine in a performance flagship looks an unconventional move to say the least, even one with the very latest in SCR catalytic converter tech and the aforementioned mild hybrid setup.
The SQ5's is ostensibly the same diesel as also found in the S4 and S6, its 2,967cc V6 supplemented by a 48V mild hybrid system with electric powered compressor. Here it's sufficient for 341hp and a chunky 516lb ft, with 5.1 seconds to 62mph said to be possible as a result. An exhaust actuator "lends the sound tone and richness"; given the old SQ7's rumble was far from unpleasant, there's cause to believe the claim there.
As is the fast Audi way, the SQ5 gets its power to the road via an eight-speed automatic and quattro all-wheel drive; optionally it's also available with the sport differential to "further increase the dynamism:". Standard 20-inch wheels can be upgraded to 21s, with new suspension that rides 30mm lower than a regular Q5. That can be switched out for air suspension if desired, with which comes a seventh (!) drive mode - 'allroad'.
With the usual raft of Audi 'S' refinements on top - badges, exhausts, aluminium trim, sports seats and so on - it's easy to imagine the SQ5 continuing to find favour with buyers. Or at least with those able to make their peace with using the diesel pump. Audi's latest Sportback has just gone into production at the San Jose Chiapa plant in Mexico, with orders being taken now. Given the standard SQ5 retails at £57,275, expect the Sportback to come in nearer £60k. Too much? The first SQ5, the original fast Audi TDI trailblazer, is now available from £15k - there's more than 300hp in that, too...
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