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Bring to mind one of Audi’s S-model fast executive cars and you are likely to picture a more traditional example – an Audi S8 limousine, perhaps, or an Audi S4 Avant performance estate. Quite understandably, since they are among the ones we have known for longest. But in 2022, Audi’s more familiar go-faster options are being commercially outperformed by its newer-groove models, one of which is in our road test crosshairs this week.
The Audi SQ5 Sportback entered Audi’s UK showrooms in early 2021, along with the rest of the Audi Q5 Sportback model line-up. It has since become one of the strongest-selling of all Audi’s modern S cars.
The frontal design includes a broader grille than the pre-facelift Q5, with higher-set headlights that are intended to give the car more visual presence. Honeycomb design for the grille is all black if you opt for Vorsprung trim.Matt SaundersRoad test editor
Among the firm’s classic, longways-front-engined, four-wheel-drive performance execs, only one outsold the SQ5 in the UK market in the first half of 2022 (if you combine volumes for the regular Q5 and the new Sportback) – and that was the Audi SQ7.
Like them or not, fast luxury SUVs are now critically important for brands like Audi. But exactly what kind of fast Audis do they make, and how good? We will also consider the other main question any potential SQ5 owner would need to answer before committing to the car.
How comfortably does a diesel engine sit in a £62,000 performance car in 2022, seven years after the Volkswagen Group’s Dieselgate saga, and when more and more people are looking to plug-in hybrids or EVs for fast luxury SUVs? And are hot diesels with bigger appetites for fuel compatible with these £2-a-litre times, even for the well-heeled? Stand by to see what answers we can find.
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Range at a glance
There are four engine derivatives available on the Q5 Sportback, with the more powerful of two plug-in hybrid versions, the 55 TFSIe, having yet to make it into the 2023-model-year catalogue. That makes the SQ5 the only six-cylinder option.
Audi’s premium for a Sportback bodystyle is £2450 irrespective of engine. Trim levels start at Sport, rising through S Line, Edition 1 and Vorsprung.
|40 TDI Quattro Sport||201bhp||£48,425|
|45 TFSI Quattro Sport||262bhp||£49,495|
|50 TFSI e Quattro Sport||295bhp||
|SQ5 TDI Quattro*||337bhp||£61,945|
Verdict Model tested: Rating:
Audi SQ5 Sportback
GoodFor the most part, it has a likeable, brisk but laid-back temperamentIt combines sporting pace with responsible touring economy cleverlyCabin is broadly practical, pleasant and easy to interact withBadAudi’s habitual luxury focus blunts the driver appeal somewhatRide comfort isn’t quite what you would expectSecond-row passenger space is only just about adult-appropriate
Model tested: SQ5 Sportback TDI Price: £61,945 Price as tested: £65,590 Engine: V6, 2967cc, turbocharged diesel Transmission: 8-speed automatic Driveline layout: Front-engine, all-wheel drive Model tested SQ5 Sportback TDI Price £61,945 Price as tested £65,590 View all specs and rivals Engine V6, 2967cc, turbocharged diesel Transmission 8-speed automatic Driveline layout Front-engine, all-wheel drive Power 337bhp at 3800-3950rpm Torque 516lb ft at 1750-3250rpm 0-62mph 5.1sec Top speed 155mph Kerb weight (DIN) 2010kg Fuel economy 34.4 CO2 215g/km BIK tax band 37% Rivals BMW X4 M40d Porsche Macan S Range Rover Velar Power 337bhp at 3800-3950rpm Torque 516lb ft at 1750-3250rpm 0-62mph 5.1sec Top speed 155mph Kerb weight (DIN) 2010kg Fuel economy 34.4 CO2 215g/km BIK tax band 37% Rivals BMW X4 M40d Porsche Macan S Range Rover Velar