2022 Audi SQ5 Sportback TDI launch review

18 mins read



Doors and SeatsEngineEngine PowerFuelManufacturerTransmissionWarrantyAncap Safety
Audi finally has a rival to performance SUV coupes from BMW and Mercedes Benz, albeit with a diesel engine. Glenn Butler straps in for a taste.

Impeccable interior, so right in every way
Diesel engine is responsive and packed with mumbo
Suspension tune handles Australian roads well

Only a three-year warranty
The options add up
less room inside

PreviousView 32 imagesView 32 imagesView 32 images NextI was one of those guys who didn’t understand the SUV coupe movement when it first appeared on the BMW X6 in the late-2000s. I thought it was the height of stupidity when I first saw it. Why take the shaver to the rear roofline of an eminently practical SUV wagon, reduce headroom and luggage space, and then charge more in the name of fashion?My view didn’t soften much when Mercedes-Benz followed with the GLE coupe soon after, nor did it waver when BMW and Benz applied the sloping roofline to their smaller SUVs, the X3 and GLC, and created the X4 and GLC Coupe.The marketing of these liposuctioned five-door wagons often trumpets heightened athleticism and a sportier spring in their step. And that must be alluring because since then ever more SUV swoop-backed coupes have followed suit.It’s been 14 years since the X6 ‘invented’ the genre, and my view has still not changed. Actually, did BMW invent this genre, or does that laurel belong to the 1995 Suzuki X-90? My point is, I think SUV coupes are weird. But… the automotive world is full of weird and our lives are all the richer for it. Diversity is good, whether I like this particular weirdness or not.  One thing has changed over the last 14 years. I can now appreciate the diversity these SUV coupes bring to our roads. Their distinctive body-styles break up the growing uniformity of SUV wagons that dominate the highways.Some brands, like Audi, are doing more to differentiate their SUV-coupes from their SUV-wagon siblings. This 2022 Audi SQ5 Sportback TDI that I’m testing here is a prime example of that. It’s part of Audi’s updated Q5 range that began with updates to the wagon version in early 2021. The changes to the Q5 centred around the design, driver assistance systems and mil-hybrid drivetrains. The changes to the Q5 Sportback range are more substantial. For starters, this is the first Sportback based on the Q5 to go head to head with the BMW X4 and Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe.The differentiation from the Q5 wagon is obvious in silhouette – that sloping roofline that blends gently into the back, is nothing like the wagon’s angular lines where roof meets caboose. On top of that, all Q5 Sportbacks come standard with S Line styling tweaks. Plus there’s an updated honeycomb grille up front, the roofrails have been deleted, and the tail-lamps have been extended to exaggerate the sloping coupe roofline through the boot. Get a great deal todayInterested in this car? Provide your details and we’ll connect you to a member of the Drive team.You can read more about those changes in Trent Nikolic’s excellent review of the Q5 Sportback 45 TFSI Quattro S Line. Here, I’m going to focus on the SQ5 Sportback TDI that I test drove. The SQ5 is the overtly sportier brother of the Q5, and as such it wears more overtly sporty clothing including a unique front grille, matrix LED headlights, matt aluminium mirror housings, a unique rear diffuser and (optional) digital OLED taillights which can change their display depending on the driving mode you’re in. Is that a good thing when you can’t see it? The SQ5 rides on 21-inch Audi sport wheels. It has metallic paint as a no-cost option, adaptive dampers, red brake calipers, privacy glass and those aforementioned S Line styling touches. All up, you’ll pay $110,900 plus on-road costs, which is $24,600 more than the Q5 Sportback 45TFSI that sits below it in the range.

Key details
2022 Audi SQ5 Sportback TDI

Price (MSRP)
$110,900 plus on-road costs

Colour of test car
Daytona Grey

Options
Black exterior styling package ($1100), Inlays in carbon atlas ($1200), Adaptive air suspension sport ($2250), Digital OLED tail-lights ($2500), quattro sport differential ($2990)

Price as tested
$120,940 plus on-road costs

Rivals
BMW X4 | Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe | Alfa Romeo Stelvio

PreviousView 32 imagesView 32 images NextNo prize for guessing the Audi SQ5 Sportback’s interior is a wonderful place to be. Audi knows how to make great interiors. The selection of materials is top grade, the placement and action of the buttons, dials and knobs are spot on, and everything just works. Premium, practical, near perfect.The interior looks and feels like a luxury car should. It has full leather trim with quilted sports bucket seats in the front. They are electrically adjustable in all the usual directions and, combined with the electrically adjustable and heated steering wheel, will deliver the ideal driving position for the vast majority of adult shapes and sizes.There are bottle holders in the front door pockets, and two cupholders between the two front occupants. There’s a USB port up front too, along with a wireless charging mat. The back seats are spacious enough to accommodate two six-footers without their heads brushing the roofline, and legroom is ample, as is underseat footroom. The seatbase can be slid forward in two sections (60/40) to increase cargo space in the boot, or kept back to prioritise legroom for occupants.The central part of the backrest folds down to become a centre armrest and has cupholders built-in. There are air vents and climate control settings for the back seat, too. The SQ5 has an electric tailgate with gesture control and is quick to raise or lower. There’s 500L of cargo space back there (10L less than the wagon), which can be increased by folding the rear seats down in a 60/40 split. There are two Isofix mounting points in the outer back row seats and three top tether anchor points.

2022 Audi SQ5 Sportback TDI

Seats
Five

Boot volume
500L seats up / 1470L seats folded

Length
4689mm

Width
1893mm

Height
1633mm

Wheelbase
2824mm

PreviousView 32 imagesView 32 imagesView 32 imagesView 32 images NextInfotainment and Connectivity
The SQ5 – like all Q5 variants – comes with a 10.1-inch multimedia touch display that has great resolution and touch-responsiveness. It houses all the usual systems for controlling in-car entertainment, climate, satellite navigation and secondary car controls. Occupants can use it via touch or voice activation. Handwriting input for the infotainment screen is a nice and useful touch. Typing on a screen while driving is a safety hazard but most of us can write letters without looking, right? The only catch for right-hand-drive markets like Australia is you’ll be forced to use your left hand to write. That’s fine for southpaws, but a little taxing for the 85-90 per cent of us that are right-handed.The driver instrument binnacle is another highlight. High-quality graphics, plenty of information on display, easy to read and easy to use. The car can put satnav maps and directions in this display or in the head-up display – or you could be a rebel and leave them in the usual place in the central infotainment screen. Choices, choices…Apple Carplay and Android Auto are standard, as is Bluetooth connectivity and DAB+ digital radio. There are four USB-A ports – two front and two rear – for connecting and powering devices. PreviousView 32 imagesView 32 imagesView 32 imagesView 32 images NextNo prizes for guessing that the SQ5 is very well equipped in terms of safety. We’re talking eight airbags for starters, plus a suite of active safety systems. Autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, attention assist, side assist, active lane assists with lane change warning, exit warning, rear cross-traffic assist, park assist, tyre pressure monitors and 360-degree cameras. Audi self-parking is standard as are parking sensors, engine stop-start at idle, head-up display and radar cruise control.The Audi Q5 and SQ5 Sportbacks have been given the same five-star rating as the Q5 and SQ5 wagons, which was the result of testing in 2017. The Q5 range scored 93 per cent for adult occupant protection, 86 per cent for child occupant protection, 73 per cent for pedestrian protection and 58 per cent for safety assist systems. As with any Audi, technology is a highlight. One tech that talks directly to this car’s USP is Audi Drive Select. This lets you tailor the steering, suspension and engine to suit your mood. I’m not talking moods like pensive, cheerful and morose; I mean driving mood such as comfort, balanced and dynamic. This basically firms the ride, adds more weight to the steering and sharpens the throttle to make the SQ5 sportier and more responsive. The sportiest of the three settings also increases engine and exhaust sound for a rortier, sportier time – and it’s an engine note you’ll never think could come from a diesel.

2022 Audi SQ5 Sportback TDI

ANCAP rating
Five stars (tested 2017)

Safety report
Link to ANCAP report

PreviousView 32 imagesView 32 imagesView 32 images NextAudi’s three-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty could be improved – out to five years – to better compete with the effective industry standard. Service intervals every 12 months or 15,000km are par for the course in this segment, though. Servicing will cost $1710 for the first three years, or $2720 over the first five, again right about where the competition sits.We averaged 7.9L/100km during our test, which is really quite impressive given the performance of this vehicle. For one particularly spirited section of driving, we managed to inch this into the high eights, which is perfectly acceptable.

At a glance
2022 Audi SQ5 Sportback TDI

Warranty
Three years / unlimited km

Service intervals
12 months / 15,000km

Servicing costs
$1710 (3 years) | $2720 (5 years)

Fuel cons. (claimed)
7.1L/100km

Fuel cons. (on test)
7.9L/100km

Fuel type
diesel

Fuel tank size
70L

The SQ5 Sportback has a 3.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine – yes, diesel – that produces 251kW of power and 700Nm of torque, helped along by a 48V mild hybrid system and electric-powered compressor. This is in turn paired with an eight-speed auto transmission and Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive that helps the SQ5 acceleration from 0-100km/h in 5.1 seconds and sound thunderous while doing so. The Audi SQ5 is an absolute pleasure to drive. The engine is responsive to throttle inputs and there’s no shortage of shove when you want it. Effortless, syrupy smooth and relentless.The quattro all-wheel drive system has the smarts to shuffle power to the axle with the most grip. In extreme driving it can deliver rear-wheel-drive feeling with 85 per cent rear-axle bias, or in trickier situations lock things at 40 per cent front, 60 per cent rear. The steering is nicely weighted, light for slow-speed manoeuvres but with the substance at higher speeds to make the car feel both planted and nimble. The SQ5’s sportier intent is visible in a 30mm lower ride height. Despite this wheel travel deficit and the fitment of 21-inch tyres, it rides with admirable smoothness and compliance. As far as the occupants are concerned, the SQ5 deals competently with rougher road sections, potholes and cross-cuts, and doesn’t lose much of that bump-soaking finesse even in the sportiest of the active damper’s settings. At times, I did notice some creaks and groans coming from the door seals, however, which is a sign of body flex. I compared notes with Editor Nikolic who drove the ‘standard’ Q5 Sportback and he noticed no such ailments.

Key details
2022 Audi SQ5 Sportback TDI

Engine
3.0-litre V6 turbocharged diesel, 48V mild-hybrid with EPC

Power
251kW @ 3800-3950rpm

Torque
700Nm @ 1750-3250rpm

Drive type
all-wheel drive

Transmission
eight-speed torque convertor automatic

Power to weight ratio
125kW/t

Weight
2010kg

Tow rating
750kg unbraked, 2000kg unbraked

Turning circle
11.8m

The problem with firmly-held views is that over time they erode – or perhaps the reasons you had for forging them in the first place fade into oblivion. My initial contempt for the SUV coupe genre was due to their compromised packaging and practicality. Yet the Audi Q5 Sportback has nearly the same practicality as its wagon sibling, so it’s hard to hold onto those early convictions. But wait! There’s hope yet for pig-headed Luddites like myself. The SQ5 Sportback is $4500 dearer than the similarly equipped and similarly potent SQ5 wagon, so you are paying more for less. Be that as it may, the SQ5 Sportback is dynamically impressive, comfortable and luxurious. If the sleeker silhouette of a coupe-esque SUV is what you want in your driveway, then Audi now has a credible alternative to BMW and Mercedes-Benz’s SUV coupes. PreviousView 32 imagesView 32 imagesView 32 images NextRatings Breakdown2021 Audi SQ5 TDI Sportback8.6/ 10Interior Comfort & PackagingInfotainment & ConnectivityGlenn Butler is one of Australia’s best-known motoring journalists having spent the last 25 years reporting on cars on radio, TV, web and print. He’s a former editor of Wheels, Australia’s most respected car magazine, and was deputy editor of Drive.com.au before that. Glenn’s also worked at an executive level for two of Australia’s most prominent car companies, so he understands how much care and consideration goes into designing and developing new cars. As a journalist, he’s driven everything from Ferraris to Fiats on all continents except Antarctica (which he one day hopes to achieve) and loves discovering each car’s unique personality and strengths. Glenn knows a car’s price isn’t indicative of its competence, and even the cheapest car can enhance your life and expand your horizons. Read more about Glenn Butler



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