+ Strong performance...
+ ...yet decent fuel economy
+ High-quality cabin
- Fake engine noise
- BMW does better infotainment
- Standard SQ5 is slightly more practical
Verdict: Diesel power suits the SQ5 Sportback and it gets Audi's typically superb cabin quality. A Porsche Macan S feels more agile though, and buy the standard SQ5 if practicality is important.
2022 Audi SQ5 Sportback review: the five-minute read
While Audi's full-fat 'RS' performance models remain petrol-powered, many of its semi-skimmed 'S' cars are powered by (whisper it) diesel.
These include its saloon and estate S4, three and four-door coupe S5, saloon and estate S6 and this, the SUV Audi SQ5 – although driven here in more stylish Sportback flavour.
If you're shopping for a five-seat premium family SUV that comes with some additional get-up-and-go, you'll also want to have cars like the Porsche Macan S, Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 Coupe or BMW X4 M40i on your radar.
Those are all swoopy-roofed SUVs with a punchy engine, but it's fair to say the Audi SQ5 Sportback isn't the belle of the ball; that probably goes to the Macan.
The SQ5 Sportback is more aggressive, which its large chrome-surround grille and air intakes and 20-inch alloys, although the chrome can be swapped for black and the alloys increased to a larger 21-inch set if you go for the more expensive Vorsprung model.
Inside, the SQ5 Sportback is more subdued, but probably up there with the best built of its competition. Everything is extremely solidly built and Audi's leather sports seats and steering wheel keep things classy.
Audi's MMI infotainment system consists of a 10-inch touchscreen on the dashboard, plus standard set of 12-inch digital driver's dials. Everything looks crisp and colourful, plus the screen is responsive to touch and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come as standard if you don't like the native menus or sat-nav. Even so, BMW's native system is still easier to use while driving with its rotary dial we think.
The penalty inside for choosing the SQ5 Sportback is slightly reduced space in the back. Kids will be fine, but tall adults will find their head brushing the ceiling where it doesn't in a standard Q5, although adults in the front will find no difference. Boot space is reduced by just 10 litres but is also a fair bit shallower, meaning tall items are harder to squeeze in.
Audi has a huge range of engines in its arsenal and has flitted back and forth with petrol and diesel power for its performance models in the past. The 341hp 3.0-litre V6 diesel it has gone for in the UK is a great choice, although at odds with its German petrol peers.
With 700Nm of low down pull, the Audi doesn't need to be revved as hard as a petrol to find its muscle, making it a more flexible engine in day-to-day driving. 0-62mph is dealt with in 5.1 seconds, but where you see more impressive (and relatable) performance is through the engine's mid-range, as such sprinting down motorway slip roads and overtaking on country roads. Just be warned that Audi's synthesised engine noise isn't fooling anybody.
Dialled up to its sportiest Dynamic mode, the SQ5's eight-speed automatic gearbox feels quick-witted and its standard quattro all-wheel-drive provides excellent traction in all weather. It runs with a 60/40 bias to the rear wheels but can send up to 70% of the engine's power to either axle if needed.
The result is an SUV that'll get its power to the road in all weathers with savage efficiency and remain glued to the road in corners. It doesn't steer as fluidly as a Porsche Macan S though, and doesn't feel quite as playful as that car when you switch off its electronic stability aids if that's important to you.
Still, the SQ5 Sportback will cover ground all year round with massive pace, and will also prove a quieter and more comfy companion than the Macan when you want to potter in town or take to the motorway on longer journies. The Audi really is a superb long-distance machine, especially when you consider 34mpg is possible despite its punchy performance.
So where does all this leave your decision? Well, a Macan S, GLC and X4 are all ultimately quicker in a sprint and with their petrol engines sound better when pushed, no question. The BMW and in particular the Porsche are more fun on the right road and the BMW also has the finest infotainment system of the lot.
All four are similarly priced, but the Audi feels the most expensive inside and will be the cheapest to run in terms of fuel bills, especially if you often cover lots of motorway miles.
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