The West

SQ5 changes family motoring rules
Styling tweaks include bold dual horizontal lines on the front grille and a lower stance, giving the SQ5 a suitably sporty appeal.

There are a few vehicles kicking around that cater to the buyer who wants his cake and wants to eat it too; that is, someone who wants performance and style along with the space and convenience to suit a family.

While hotted-up wagons such as the Mercedes E-Class Estate and BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo fit the bill, there are many who have their hearts set on an SUV.

And, save for maybe the Subaru Forester XT dabbling in the market, there hasn't really been a wholehearted performance premium SUV on the market before the Audi SQ5.

It is designed to be frugal as well as powerful and Audi has opted to power the SQ5 with its TDI diesel engine.

It claims a low 6.8L/100km but, as shown by its many victories at Le Mans, Audi knows how to create a diesel with serious kick.

While the SQ5 may not be as crazy as Audi's own RS4 Avant wagon, it is still the fastest diesel- powered SUV in the world.

It will pump out 230kW and 650 Newton metres of torque, and get you from 0-100km/h in just 5.1 seconds. On the road, it's staggering feeling a car this size pick up speed so quickly and effortlessly - restraint is needed when overtaking.

When you put your foot down, there is understandably not quite the same angry growl as a petrol- powered engine might emit, but it sure doesn't sound like a diesel either. Audi has used the same loudspeakers on the exhausts as it did in the A6 and A7 bi-turbo diesels to give the SQ5 a satisfying if not mind-blowing exhaust note when in Dynamic mode.

The ride is firm for an SUV, even in Comfort mode, but it's to be expected in a car with such performance aspirations.

And the firm ride is worth it for the handling - the SQ5 sticks to the road in high-speed turns in a way which almost defies physics.

I say almost because despite its impressive performance credentials, you're always aware you're in a big car when negotiating corners at speed.

The SQ5 tips the scales at more than 2.5 tonnes and with that much weight moving at that high a speed, the brakes could be a bit snappier in responding.

But no one is expecting MX-5-like nimbleness and there's a definite upside to the heft.

There's a lot of storage room, nets and hooks, and the rear seats can be slid forward or back for more legroom for rear passengers.

And this is a premium vehicle - like the Q5, it's nice inside and has a bunch of features including sat-nav, three-zone climate control, electric leather seats and rearview camera all standard.

There have been slight changes to the exterior. Tweaks including bold dual horizontal lines on the front grille and lowering the clearance by 30mm to give it a suitably sporty appeal.

But perhaps the best thing going for the SQ5 is the price - its frugal fuel consumption helps it avoid copping a massive luxury car tax to come in with a list price under $90,000, plus its good economy means long-term savings.

Audi has aimed to create a new segment with the SQ5 and while it doesn't offer 100 per cent of all the perks of a sports car or SUV, it comes admirably close and has a lot to offer folk who want a luxury SUV but also want a thrill when they put their foot down.

  • AUDI SQ5*
Price: $89,400

Engine: 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel
Driveline: Quattro permanent all-wheel-drive
Outputs: 230kW/650Nm
Transmission: Eight-speed tiptronic automatic
Thirst: 6.8L/100km
Acceleration: 0-100km/h in 5.1sec.
Top speed: 250km/h (capped)
Rear cargo room: 1560 litres (with rear seats down)
Towing capacity: 2000kg (braked)

The West Australian

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