The Q5 is the best SUV in Audi’s line-up. It looks more proportional and handsome than both the dumpy Q3 and the gargantuan Q7, while having enough cabin space within to make its higher-than-an-allroad ride height worth the effort. The interior is naturally a beautiful place to spend time behind the wheel, there’s a good range of economical yet powerful engines, the Q5 can be loaded up to the hilt with all the comfort toys you could possibly want and at the top of the tree is the first-ever S-model Audi that’s both a diesel and an SUV – the ultra-rapid and engaging SQ5.
There’s nothing wrong with the manual gearboxes but if you can afford £1550, go for either the Tiptronic or S-Tronic transmissions on models where they’re an option. Both are super-slick and brilliant ‘boxes, although remember that the S-Tronic has a very minor detrimental impact on the 175bhp 2.0 TDI’s economy and emissions – luckily, it’s not enough to shunt it into a more punitive VED Band. The Tiptronic actually improves the 2.0 TFSI’s eco-stats.
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The Audi SQ5 is out on its own. More than simply a 3.0 TDI with another turbo bolted on, when Audi released it in 2012 it was the fastest-accelerating diesel SUV in the world – a title it still holds today. The 309bhp biturbo V6 develops peak power from 3900- to 4500rpm, but it’s a colossal 480lb ft from 1450- to 2800rpm that makes the SQ5 so rapid. It’ll do 0-62mph in 5.1 seconds and is electronically limited to 155mph.
It’s not the most involving drivers’ car in the world but as S-model Audis go, it’s one of the better efforts. Excellent body control and quattro grip with torque vectoring means it’s amusing to hustle the SQ5 along. The real treat comes from the Active Sound exhaust; we’re normally against artificial augmentation of a car’s sonic output, but as even V6 turbodiesels sound a trifle dull, making the SQ5 in Sport mode roar like a V8 is properly appealing stuff.