Diesels are dead? Not so fast, says Audi.
Sales in Europe of diesel-fuelled vehicles have taken quite a hit in recent years in the aftermath of the Volkswagen Group’s costly emissions scandals, but there’s still a significant segment of the market with an appetite for the TDI. VAG’s premium brand Audi is confident even a high-performance diesel still makes sense in today’s automotive scene, prompting the Four Rings to give the SQ7 a kid brother.
Say hello to the new SQ5 TDI and its ample amount of torque: 516 pound-feet and 342 bhp. At the heart of the latest Audi SUV is a 3.0-litre V6 with a mild hybrid twist in the same vein as the mighty SQ7. It boasts a 48-volt main electrical system and is fitted as standard with an electric powered compressor (EPC), with the energy coming from a lithium-ion battery pack installed underneath the cargo floor.
While this may sound a bit boring, the electrified component is there for a very good reason – to eliminate turbo lag, with Audi describing the EPC as being the turbocharger’s ideal assistance. The EPC kicks in right away and helps the SQ5 TDI in the low-rev range up to 1,650 rpm whenever the exhaust gas flow sends too little energy to the turbocharger.
The amped-up Q5 needs 5.1 seconds to reach a “highway speed,” which is probably Audi’s way of saying 62 mph. Flat out, it will do an electronically governed 155 mph.
Not only does the electrified powertrain provide more performance than a conventional setup, but it also saves fuel. Audi promises fuel savings of up to 0.7 litres / 100 km in the real world, so you get the best of both worlds. It goes without saying the SQ5 TDI has Quattro all-wheel drive as standard, which receives the engine’s power from an eight-speed tiptronic transmission. The automatically adaptable AWD can send as much as 70 percent of the muscle to the front wheels or 85 percent to the rear axle.
As with just about every other model from Audi Sport, the styling upgrades over the regular Q5 are subtle. The premium SUV looks a bit more aggressive than the lesser variants, but it’s not immediately noticeable. As standard, it rides on 20-inch alloy wheels or you can opt for a larger 21-inch set at an additional cost.
The SQ5 TDI will be available to order in the UK in the spring – pricing to be confirmed. However, at home in Germany, the new Audi SQ5 TDI will go on sale this summer with a starting price of €67,750 or approximately £58,900 at the current exchange rate.
As a final note, there will likely be another SQ-badged diesel SUV from Audi taking into account the SQ8 was spotted at the end of November 2018 carrying the TDI badge.
Gallery: 2019 Audi SQ5 TDI
THE NEW AUDI SQ5 TDI – BACK ON TOP WITH ELECTRICALLY POWERED COMPRESSOR AND MILD HYBRID DRIVE
High performance mid-size SUV returns with TDI power, MHEV drivetrain and compressor technology adopted from the SQ7
- New SQ5 TDI and SQ5 TDI Vorsprung models available to order in the UK in the spring – pricing to be confirmed
- 3.0 V6 TDI engine with 347PS, 700 Nm (516.3 lb-ft), electrically powered compressor, classic turbocharger and 48 V mild hybrid technology
- Eight-speed tiptronic and quattro permanent all-wheel drive
- Suspension with damper control as standard, optional air suspension
Ingolstadt, February 21, 2019 – Twin-turbo exhilaration delivered with TDI moderation in versatile SUV accommodation – the original Audi SQ5 won a loyal following for its pragmatic approach to performance, and the successful formula behind it returns in up-to-the-minute form in the new, third generation SQ5 TDI. Set to re-join the UK range in the spring, the high performance SUV with new Electrically Powered Compressor and MHEV drivetrain will be available in two forms - SQ5 and SQ5 Vorsprung - the latter offering an even more lavish and technologically sophisticated specification.
Like the first SQ5 the basis for the newcomer’s well-rounded CV is a muscular V6 TDI engine, but the original BiTDI powerhouse is replaced here by a unit supported by a single turbocharger, a separate electrically powered compressor for split-second response and a mild hybrid system to underpin the thrilling performance with appropriate efficiency. The result is mammoth maximum torque of 700Nm from barely more than idling speed, peak power of 347PS, 5.1-second 0-62mph sprint capability and CO2 output of as little as 172g/km.
The mighty 700 Nm (516.3 lb-ft) torque peak is available from just 2,500 rpm, and with its help the performance SUV clears 62mph from rest in 5.1 seconds and tops out at an electrically limited top speed of 155mph. Under WLTP test conditions the sophisticated engine, which has been certified according to the Euro 6d-temp emission standard, has also proven capable of returning between 32.5 and 34.4mpg, corresponding to 172 – 177 grams of CO2 per kilometre.
In the interest of rapid response and, equally importantly, optimal fuel economy the latest SQ5 TDI has adopted a 48-volt primary electrical system which has enabled it to take on board the electrically powered compressor (EPC) concept used first by the SQ7 TDI and the mild hybrid system based on the componentry used by A6, A7 and A8 models. Energy is stored in a compact lithium-ion battery with an electrical capacity of 10 Ah located beneath the luggage compartment floor. An AC/DC converter connects the conventional 12-volt electrical system.
New assistant for the turbocharger: the EPC
The electrically powered compressor is the ideal assistant for the turbocharger. It is active whenever the exhaust gas flow provides too little energy to drive the turbocharger, i.e. when starting off and accelerating in the low-rev range up to 1,650 rpm. High torque is available immediately with no turbo lag whenever the driver needs it, whether starting off, passing or exiting a corner. In everyday driving situations, the early and rapid torque development made possible by the technology keeps revs and fuel consumption low.
The electrically powered compressor is located in the intake air path downstream of the intercooler and close to the engine. If the load demand from the accelerator is high but there is still too little boost from the turbocharger, the EPC comes into play. A compact electric motor with an output of 7 kW accelerates the compressor wheel to 65,000 rpm in roughly 300 milliseconds, producing a relative boost pressure of 1.4 bar.
Recuperation, coasting and smooth starts: MHEV technology
The MHEV system (mild hybrid electric vehicle) in the new Audi SQ5 TDI can reduce real-world fuel consumption by as much as 0.7 litres per 100 kilometres. At its core is a belt alternator-starter (BAS) connected to the crankshaft. During deceleration, it can recuperate up to 12 kW of energy. This electrical energy is stored in the lithium-ion battery, from where it is dynamically distributed to the consumers in the electrical system.
If the driver lifts off the accelerator at speeds of between 34mph and 99mph the new Audi SQ5 TDI can, depending on Audi drive select setting and driving situation, either recuperate, run at idle with the clutch disengaged or coast with the engine off for up to 40 seconds. The BAS restarts the engine the next time the accelerator is depressed, and does so noticeably more quickly and smoothly than a conventional starter. MHEV technology allows for start/stop operation at a speed of up to 13mph. If the vehicle is equipped with the adaptive cruise control (ACC), the engine restarts while the brake pedal is still depressed as soon as the vehicle in front of the SQ5 TDI begins to move.
Optimised for supreme pulling power and maximum efficiency: the engine
The most powerful version of the 3.0 V6 TDI engine has been further developed and modified in numerous areas. Crankshaft, pistons, connecting rods and oil management have all been specially configured for the more stringent demands. The thermal management system is highly versatile. The crankcase and the cylinder heads have their own cooling circuits, allowing the engine oil to warm up quickly after a cold start. The coolant flow is directed to the oil cooler, the EPC, the BAS and the turbocharger as needed. The large exhaust gas turbocharger with variable turbine geometry (VTG) produces a relative boost pressure of up to 2.4 bar. A sound actuator in the exhaust system gives the TDI a sonorous sound.
Fast, smooth and efficient: the eight-speed tiptronic
A fast and smooth-shifting eight-speed tiptronic handles the power transmission. Its lower gears feature suitably closely spaced ratios, while the upper gears are longer to reduce revs and fuel consumption. New detailed solutions enable the tiptronic to work effectively with MHEV technology. If the sport SUV is rolling and the engine is idling or shut off entirely, a clutch in the central transmission opens and interrupts the power connection. An electric oil pump enables the tiptronic to engage the gear while coasting that will be needed at restart.
quattro and sport differential
Like every Audi S model, the new SQ5 TDI features quattro permanent all-wheel drive as standard. In normal driving conditions, its self-locking centre differential distributes torque between the front and rear axles in a 40:60 ratio. When slip is detected, the majority of the power is directed to the axle with the better traction. Depending on the driving situation, a maximum of 70 percent can flow to the front or 85 percent to the rear.
Wheel-selective torque control, an intelligent software function complementing the quattro drive, is active on all kinds of surfaces. During dynamic cornering, it brakes the wheels on the inside of the bend minimally before they begin to slip. The power is thus directed via the differential to the wheel with the better traction, helping to promote stability, composure and control.
SQ5 Vorsprung models are also equipped with a sport differential on the rear axle which actively distributes the power between the rear wheels during dynamic cornering. Also available as an option for ‘standard’ SQ5 models, this additional differential literally pushes the car into the bend, nipping understeer in the bud. It sends more torque to the outside rear wheel when accelerating out of tight radii to further improve agility.
Sporty and precise: the chassis of the new SQ5 TDI
Sophisticated five-link suspension with damper control at the front and rear provides the foundations for the dynamic driving characteristics of the new Audi SQ5 TDI. The adaptive suspension lowers the body by 30 millimetres compared with the Q5, and its settings offer a particularly wide spread between comfort and dynamics. S-specific adaptive air suspension, available as an option, retains a taut cornering attitude while also placing even greater emphasis on long distance comfort. It adapts not just the damping but also the body’s trim to the respective driving situation. Dynamic steering is also available as an option and uses strain wave gearing to vary the steering ratio over a very wide range as a function of speed and steering angle.
Along with the sport differential, engine, steering and tiptronic transmission, the dampers are integrated into the Audi drive select dynamic handling system. With Audi drive select, the driver can vary the function of these systems via multiple profiles.
The new Audi SQ5 TDI is fitted as standard with 20-inch cast aluminium wheels and 255/45-series tyres. Vorsprung versions upgrade to a 21-inch design. Aluminium six-piston calipers on the front axle embossed with the S logo grip steel discs with a diameter of 375 millimetres (14.8 in).
Convenient and safe: the driver assistance systems
The new Audi SQ5 TDI offers a broad portfolio of driver assistance systems, many of which are fitted as standard to the Vorsprung version. The predictive efficiency assistant provides specific tips to help the driver save fuel. Audi active lane assist makes it easier to stay in lane and can handle some of the steering task in slow-moving traffic. The distance warning display alerts the driver when the distance to the vehicle ahead drops below a safe distance.
The functions rear cross traffic assist, exit warning, collision avoidance assist and turn assist also enhance safety in everyday driving. The same applies to the pre sense systems; Audi pre sense city is standard, and warns the driver about pedestrians and vehicles, initiating automatic emergency braking within system limits if necessary. Vorsprung versions also add pre sense front and rear to extend the capabilities of the system. Park assist, camera-based traffic sign recognition and hill descent control round out the extensive list of safety features.
Logical and intelligent: controls infotainment and Audi connect
The Audi Virtual cockpit is a standard feature of the new SQ5 TDI in the UK. Depending on the setting, its 12.3-inch display shows an S-specific mode centred around the rev counter. The intuitive MMI control concept with its intelligent free text search function is also standard, as is the natural-language voice control function, which also recognises inputs from everyday speech. For the easiest access to key driving information a head-up display is installed as standard in SQ5 TDI Vorsprung versions and available as an option for the SQ5 TDI.
UK SQ5 TDI and SQ5 TDI Vorsprung models will also feature MMI navigation plus with MMI all-in-touch and an 8.3-inch display. This incorporates Audi connect, which connects the SQ5 TDI to the internet via LTE and provides a WiFi hotspot for passengers’ mobile devices. The UK equipment list also includes Audi phone box inductive charging and the Audi smartphone interface, bringing Apple CarPlay and Android Auto into the car. For particularly discerning hi-fi fans, the Bang & Olufsen Sound System with 3D sound is standard for the SQ5 TDI Vorsprung and available as an option for the SQ5 TDI.
Sportily distinctive: the exterior design
Numerous exterior design details hint at the dynamic character of the Audi SQ5 TDI. The bold bumpers feature strongly contoured air inlets up front and a diffuser insert with a honeycomb grille at the rear. The Singleframe grille features double aluminium slats and contrasting trim elements in twilight grey matt. The S logo with red rhombus is used in numerous locations to set additional accents.
The headlights and rear lights of the Audi SQ5 TDI feature LED technology and the dynamic indicators at the front and rear send unmistakable signals. The SQ5 TDI Vorsprung upgrades to Matrix LED headlamps with segmented clusters that can be individually dimmed to divert the light beam around oncoming and leading traffic. The exterior mirror housings and the clasp on the diffuser feature the aluminium-look finish that is an S quattro Series trademark. The exterior colour panther black is also reserved exclusively for the Audi SQ5 TDI.
Elegant ambiance: the interior
The dark-toned interior welcomes the driver and passengers with illuminated door sills bearing exclusive S logos. Contrasting stitching on the leather steering wheel and in a rhombus pattern on the standard fine Nappa leather-upholstered S sport seats conveys a dynamic and elegant ambiance. The seats also offer a pneumatic massage function. Brushed aluminium inlays are standard, with exclusive carbon inlays available as an option. The shift paddles on the steering wheel sport an aluminium-look finish; there are stainless steel applications on the pedals and footrest.
The optional rear seat bench plus in the new Audi SQ5 TDI is split into three segments. Longitudinal and seat back angle adjustment are optional. The luggage compartment has a basic capacity of 550 litres (19.4 cu ft), which can be increased to 1,550 litres (54.7 cu ft) by folding down the rear seat backrests.