Audi SQ5 review 2021

The SQ5 is a sport mid-size SUV that combines performance and practicality

£35,667
Average price
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2
Out of 5

Pros

  • Great performance
  • Spacious interior
  • Premium cabin

Cons

  • Not the most fun to drive
  • Thirsty petrol engine
  • Expensive to buy new
  • MPG

    0 - 0

  • CO2

    0 - 0 g/km

Model review

SUVs have become an instrumental part of Audi’s range these days, with the firm now offering seven individual models - and that’s before the different body styles have been counted. 

One of its most popular options has been the mid-size Q5, which rivals the BMW X3 and Mercedes GLC, which has been around since 2009. 

But Audi wasn’t just content with the regular Q5, with the firm introducing a sportier SQ5 model in 2013. Not only did it help to establish Audi’s performance SUV range, but it was also the firm’s first diesel ‘S’ car. Powered by a 309bhp 3.0-litre bi-turbo TDI engine, it was capable of reaching 0-60mph in under five seconds, yet also achieving more than 40mpg. Design changes included a lowered suspension setup, a more prominent grille and a larger roof spoiler. It certainly proved to be a popular model for Audi, with the German manufacturer expanding the range in 2015 with a ‘Plus’ version, which gained more power, more torque and more standard equipment. 

For a second-generation SQ5, though, Audi switched to petrol power initially with its 2017 car, which featured a 3.0-litre TFSI engine boasting 349bhp, though it was actually slower than the old diesel and nowhere near as efficient, either. Despite the switch to a petrol engine, this new SQ5 boasted a far more modern design inside and out than its predecessor.

Latest model

In a change of tune, though, Audi returned back to diesel power for the SQ5 in 2019, using a mild-hybrid 3.0-litre V6 TDI engine producing 342bhp. It was quite an odd move, given this was when diesel was starting to fall out of favour with buyers, but Audi has stuck with its decision ever since, along with in many of its other S models. 

For 2021, the SQ5 benefitted from a mid-life update, with changes including more advanced LED headlights, modifications to the diesel engine (which included getting less power)  and upgrades to the multimedia system to make it easier and slicker to use. Aud has also introduced a sleeker Sportback version, too, bringing more coupe-like styling to the range. 

Value for money

Unsurprisingly for a sporty premium SUV, the SQ5 isn’t cheap, with prices starting from £58,115 for the standard car and a steep £73,265 for the top-spec Vorsprung model. We’d think carefully before upgrading to the tip-top car, as the regular version is already very well-equipped – highlights including massaging front seats, leather upholstery and Matrix LED headlights. 

Prices remain high for used examples, too, with even early 2013 cars with under 80,000 miles on the clock still commanding £20,000 plus. If you’d like a second-generation SQ5, used prices currently start from around £33,000 for the petrol. Decent savings of around £5,000 are available off nearly-new models, though discounts won’t be quite as sizable as some of its rivals. 

Looks and image

The SQ5 is a perfect execution of what an Audi S model is about – smart and classy styling without being too over the top. In fact, if you opt for a regular non-Vorsprung car, it really doesn’t look too different from a regular Q5, which certainly is no bad thing. Perhaps the only part of the SQ5’s design that we’re not such a fan of is the chrome trim at the rear that’s meant to look like exhausts, but just appears cheap and unnecessary in reality. 

What can’t be disputed, though, is the SQ5’s interior, which is without a double one of the best in the business. Perfectly combining modern touches – such as a large digital dial display and touchscreen – with quality controls and switchgear, it’s everything a modern Audi should be. 

Behind the wheel, the SQ5 is more about outright speed than it is fun handling. Whether you opt for the petrol or punchy diesel, it’s incredibly rapid at getting up to speed. It could quite comfortably beat most sports cars off the line without trying. The rest of the experience isn’t quite so enjoyable, though, with the steering lacking feedback and not feeling as involving as a model like the BMW X3 or Porsche Macan behind the wheel. 

Space and practicality

The SQ5 is a popular family car, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint when it comes to space and versatility. With a sliding rear bench fitted as standard, it lets you adjust the size of the boot from 550 to 610 litres. Even with the rear seats as far back as they go, it’s still vast inside. 

Space in the rest of the interior is also generous, with plenty of room in the rear for adults, and there are lots of cubby holes for storing odds and ends out of the way. 

Engines

If you’re buying a new SQ5, it will be underpinned by a 3.0-litre mild-hybrid V6 diesel engine, which produces an impressive 336bhp and 700Nm of torque. An eight-speed tiptronic automatic gearbox is also used, with power being sent to all four wheels via Audi’s quattro system. The sprint to 60mph takes just 4.9 seconds, while flat out the SQ5 will reach an electronically limited top speed of 155mph. 

If you want a petrol, you’ll have to buy a 2017 or 2018 car, which will feature a 3.0-litre TFSI engine producing 349bhp and 500Nm of torque. With a 0-60mph time of 5.4 seconds, it’s slightly slower than the diesel, though. 

Running costs

One of the key advantages to going for a sporty diesel SUV is the lower running costs. Granted, it still won’t be cheap to fuel, but with Audi claiming 34.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 214g/km, it’s by no means bad for a heavy SUV with this level of performance. Petrol models will be significantly thirstier, though. 

The SQ5 also sits in a high insurance group (42 out of 50), while you’ll have to pay a premium rate of road tax on models aged between two and six years old, which is a £325 additional surcharge. 

Things to look out for

The SQ5 has a decent reputation for its reliability, though it’s important – as with any sporty model – to make sure it’s been regularly serviced and well maintained. It could be worth taking out an aftermarket warranty once Audi’s three years and 60,000 miles expires, too, just in case any large bills crop up. 

Rivals

Sporty SUVs are all the rage at the moment and the SQ5 certainly has no shortage of rivals. Key competitors include the Porsche Macan, Alfa Romeo Stelvio, BMW X3 and X4 M40d and M40i models and the Mercedes-AMG GLC. Volvo’s XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered plug-in hybrid could also be considered as a left-field alternative. 

Depreciation

The SQ5 has generally held its value very well – particularly first-generation cars, which are still worth an impressive amount of money for their age. While decent discounts are available on nearly-new models, this Audi certainly doesn’t plummet in value in the way many other premium cars do. 

Trims explained

Audi offers just two trim levels on the SQ5 – the standard car and a high-spec Vorsprung model. Equipment highlights and prices are as follows.

SQ5

The SQ5 comes with a generous amount of equipment, including 20-inch alloy wheels, sports suspension, Matrix LED headlights, nappa leather sports seats, with heated and massaging front seats. You also get LED interior lighting, electric boot, 10.1-inch touchscreen and large 12.3-inch digital dial display. Elsewhere, cruise control, a reversing camera, keyless start and Audi puddle lights included for the price.

From £58,115

Vorsprung

The Vorsprung commands quite the price increase, but gains advanced OLED rear lights, 21-inch alloy wheels, a black exterior styling pack and a panoramic sunroof. Far more safety equipment is also included, such as adaptive cruise control and blind spot monitoring. You also get a Bang & Olufsen sound system, heated steering wheel, 360-degree camera system and a head-up display.

From £73,265

Summary

  1. Sporty premium SUV
  2. Predominantly comes with diesel engines
  3. Though a petrol model was offered in 2017 and 2018
  4. Strong performance...
  5. But not that much fun to drive
  6. Loads of standard equipment
  7. Holds its value well
  8. Stunning interior
  9. Loads of standard equipment
  10. Fast and upmarket sports SUV, but rivals are better to drive

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