The new Audi SQ5 TDI is here, and it has adopted clever electrical technology from elsewhere in the range, Audi has confirmed.
The 342bhp diesel V6 is unchanged in essence, internally toughened but cranking out the same 516lb ft as the ‘Plus’ variant of the outgoing car. Top speed is still a limited 155mph, while it will pass 62mph from rest in 5.1 seconds. These are impressive numbers for a two-tonne SUV, but the main news is elsewhere.
Audi has given the updated SQ5 the 48V electrical system from the SQ7, albeit ‘refined’ and improved to provide emissions-reducing mild hybrid assistance and to power an electric compressor to assist the turbo.
At engine speeds below 1650rpm, when the turbo starts to spool, a heavy squeeze of the accelerator awakens a 7kW electric motor, spinning it to 65,000rpm in three tenths of a second. Shoving 1.4 bar of pressure downstream into the engine, it effectively plugs the boost gap and enables the eight-speed automatic gearbox to maintain a higher, more efficient gear.
The 48V system also allows for engine stop-start operation on the move at up to 14mph, allowing you to coast with all the powered ancillaries – like the steering and brakes – still fully operational. Useful, that.
A sound actuator in the exhaust generates a nicer noise than the typical diesel moo. The gear ratios are relatively short and close at the lower reaches of the range, for improved acceleration, but tall at the top for efficient cruising. More interestingly, the permanent all-wheel drive biases 60 per cent towards the rear in normal conditions; in special circumstances it can send up to 70 per cent forwards or 85 per cent to the back.
There’s an optional active differential for the rear axle. It’s a torque vectoring arrangement Audi has used for years, which sends more power to the outer rear wheel when powering out of tight corners. In our experience it’s damn effective.
Elsewhere it’s as-you-were. The standard wheels are 20s, with larger options on the list of extras Audi will happily sell you. The MMI interface still operates through a crisp 12.3-inch widescreen and there’s the expected plethora of driver aids, both standard and optional. Prices will start at €67,750 euros, but it remains to be seen what effect Brexit has on UK prices.