Audi has been pioneering diesel performance lately, from making a huge V12 that can propel a 2.6-tonne SUV to 100kmph like a sports car to winning Le Mans multiple times with diesel power. A couple of months ago there was a rumour of an Audi S car to be powered by a diesel motor. And now we know it's true. The result is an S badged SUV, the Audi SQ5.
The engine powering the SQ5 is a 3.0-litre V6 TDI that produces 313PS and a hefty 650Nm of torque. This ensures the SQ5 reaches the ton in a claimed 5.1 seconds. That's on par with a Porsche 911 Carerra 4! The SQ5 will go on to hit an electronically limited top speed of 250kmph and Audi claims the car returns 14kmpl!
We drove it on the autobahns around Munich and the car felt quick too. Quattro and the massive torque meant the car was quick to jump off the line. The use of twin turbochargers makes the power delivery very linear (more like a naturally aspirated car) and is nicely spread out through the rev range since the smaller turbo does duty at low revs while the larger one takes over later and provides boost all the way up to 4500rpm. This is one of the major reasons for the car's quick acceleration time. However the rapidly increasing speed is felt only when you see the speedo needle climbing away.
One may complain that diesels don't excite as much as petrol-powered cars since the exhaust doesn't sound as loud. Audi has solved the problem by adding a sound actuator in the exhaust that amplifies the note to make it sound more like a bassy petrol powered sports car (how cool is that).
S badged cars generally feature a sports rear differential but the SQ5 makes do without it. However, the quattro all-wheel drive system ensures the car has enough grip around corners and there is not much body roll too thanks to stiffer springs. The steering weighs up as speeds increase and if needed there are three settings to choose from but this does nothing to improve steering feedback. Though there's no active suspension and the springs have gone down by 30mm, the ride quality is still impressive on slightly rough country roads, even with its standard 20-inch rims (21-inch rims are optional).
When it comes to styling, the SQ5 has a few additions that go with the sporty theme. The SQ5 carries a new front look with newly designed headlamps, a hexagonal grille seen in the new Audis like the Q3 and a sportier front bumper. The rear bumper houses a diffuser and quad exhausts that are drool worthy. Inside, the cabin has an all-black finish and features an S style, flat bottomed steering wheel.
The Q5 has been a practical vehicle that combines the best of a car and SUV, the SQ5 now becomes the flagship model elevating the practical Q5. Sounds exciting! The price however may not justify Audi bringing it to India. Too bad!