Audi launch first diesel ‘S’ model with SQ5

Audi have now won every Le Mans 24 Hour race this millennium, barring 2009 when Peugeot had a go. Yes, Bentley won in 2003 but as that’s a brand owned by Audi, it doesn’t count. The last six wins have all come from diesel powered cars, yet Audi continue to put petrol engines in their sporty ‘S’ range of road cars. Until now.

Revealed at Le Mans, where Audi took yet another crushing 1-2-3 victory, the SQ5 is the first diesel powered ‘S’ car. It’s also the first SUV variant of the ‘S’ sub-brand, something that may or not be a good thing for the image of the ‘S’.

Powered by a 3.0 litre bi-turbo diesel engine, the SQ5 develops 309 bhp (313 PS) and an impressive 479 lb/ft (650 Nm) of torque, enough to get the vehicle from standstill to 62 mph in just 5.1 seconds. An eight-speed tiptronic automatic gearbox and Quattro all-wheel drive system helps put the power down to the tarmac, while the sensation of speed is enhanced with a sound actuator in the exhaust system to improve the exhaust note.

To aid the transformation from SUV to ‘S’ Audi have lowered the suspension by 30 mm and added 20 inch alloy wheels. An optional Audi drive select system can be expanded upon request to include the dynamic steering system with its steplessly variable steering ratio.

On the inside there’s predominantly black trim with power adjustable leather seating and brushed aluminium inlays. Carbon inlays can be specified, as can ‘lunar silver’ headlining. Aluminium look pedals and shift paddles have also been fitted, while ‘S’ badges have seemingly been glued to as many surfaces as possible. Audi’s state-of-the-art assistance and infotainment systems remain an option.

For those considering a powerful SUV but are concerned by fuel economy, a stop-start system is fitted alongside a regulated oil pump and ‘innovative thermal management’ which allows the SQ5 to return 39.2 mpg on the combined cycle.

The Audi SQ5 is scheduled to open for UK order in October priced at around £45,000. First deliveries are expected next spring.

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Phil is a motoring writer for print and web, failed racing driver, car hoarder and banger rally competitor. Nominated for the Headline Auto Rising Star award and a MGMW member, Phil freelances for outlets as diverse as Diesel Car magazine, and Cambridge Magazine, amongst many others. He also maintains a fleet of unloved motors, but spends most of his time driving an old Corvette.