This Is Possibly The Most Amazing Diesel Performance SUV

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Audi released the new 2019 Audi SQ5 TDI, and it will showcase the brute at the 2019 Geneva International Motor Show. Yet, before I get into all the “what’s new” jazz, let me give you some perspective here, right in the introduction. The 2015 Ford Mustang GT comes with a V-8 with 435 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque and can accelerate to 60 in 4.4 seconds. The 2016 Chevy Camaro SS comes with a V-8 with 455 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque and can accelerate to 60 in 4.3 seconds. The 2018 Durango SRT comes with a V-8 with 475 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque and can accelerate to 60 in 4.4 seconds. Now, the new Audi SQ5 TDI isn’t as quick. It will accelerate to 60 mph in 5 seconds. So, around half a second slower, but not far off.

So, why the hell am I mentioning American muscle cars here? Well, unlike them, Audi doesn’t run on gasoline, it does not have a V-8, and its engine is around 25-percent smaller in terms of displacement compared to any of the cars listed here. Ladies and gentlemen, I know that comparing a compact SUV with muscle cars and a massive SUV like the Dodge Durango is, basically, blasphemy, but the Audi SQ5 is that insane, amazing, and incredible. In its newest iteration it is, by far, the most amazing diesel-powered performance SUV I know of. Yes, Alpina does have that mad

based XD3 with 388 horsepower, but I consider that to be an aftermarket offering despite the car being produced on the same production line as the regular X3.

2019 Audi SQ5 TDI Exterior

  • 20-inch wheels standard
  • Option 21-inch wheels)
  • Subtle looks
  • Fake exhaust outlets
  • LED exterior lighting
2019 Audi SQ5 TDI
- image 824631

Look how green it is. It’s freaking awesome. And in some strange way, the exterior additions over the standard Q5 can be called “awesome” as well. As always, Audi opted for subtle improvements in just the right spots to differentiate its latest performance compact SUV from its lesser brothers. Place the 2019 Audi Q5 and the 2019 Audi SQ5 TDI side by side, and you can obviously notice reimagined bumpers with bigger air inlets and signature Singleframe Audi grille with brushed aluminum surround. All of it does not feel like “overkill” though. It is just right and gives the new Audi SQ5 TDI a somewhat sleeper feel.

Moving to the sides, you are welcomed with 20-inch wheels (21-inch wheels are available as an option, but I’d settle for the ’20s) that hide awesome red brake calipers.

Finally, at the far end, the SQ5 TDI sports an all-new diffuser, and, I am sorry to say, some fake exhausts. Boy, do I hate these. As for the high-end gear expect to see LED headlights and LED taillights on every SQ5 TDI.

2019 Audi SQ5 TDI
- image 824636

All in all, I find the SQ5 TDI quite appealing. It is not as shouty as some may imagine, nor as ostentatious. It is just right - if you are big on this SUV thing, that is. If you cannot deal with the eclecticism of the world of today, then, I am sorry. There is one clear reason I love the SQ5 TDI a lot. One of my friends actually has it (the old one, not this one) and I drove it a couple of times. In this case, the 3.0-liter, TDI has been tuned to 400 horsepower and far more than 450 pound-feet of torque. I witnessed the dyno run!

You know what, when all that insane torque pushes the unsuspectingly gentle family SUV to some insane speeds in a blink of an eye, and you will definitely love it (0-60 mph in less than 5 sec, for sure). Not only in terms of speed and pure driving fun, but you’ll love that it looks like it does - sophisticated, just the right amount of angry, and well defined. I like the SQ5 a lot. This comes from a man who’s into Beemers.

2019 Audi SQ5 TDI Interior

  • Digital Cockpit
  • Head-up display
  • MMI 8.3-inch
  • Various time inlays available
  • Standard sports seats
2019 Audi SQ5 TDI
- image 824625
Moving inside opens an underwhelming box of modernity. The 2019 Audi SQ5 TDI does not feel special.

It does have all the newest gear, though. This includes:

  • Alcantara and leather covered sports seats
  • Quite-cool, leather-wrapped, multi-function steering wheel,
  • 12.3in Virtual Cockpit digital instrument display with a special S-theme
  • A bunch of brushed aluminum trim inlays (If you pay more, you can get these trim pieces finished in wood or carbon)
  • Bang & Olufsen sound system (if you pay for this option that is)
  • Audi’s connectivity suite with a wireless smartphone charging tray
  • 8.3-inch MMI touch display
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Head-up display
  • 19.4 cubic feet of cargo space in the back
2019 Audi SQ5 TDI
- image 824627

Bear in mind, the Audi Q5 and, consequently, the SQ5 TDI, do have perfectly nice interiors. However, as I find the SQ5 TDI somewhat special and really good (I tell you why in the Drivetrain section, it’s amazing), I felt that Audi had to go an extra mile to make its inside unique.

Yes, you can have cool quilted Nappa leather upholstery (that’s high-quality, smooth leather that is usually integrated into high-end premium automobiles), a whole bunch of S badges, and the carbon trim pieces, but the SQ5 deserves to grow out of this somehow.

Nevertheless, I would feel really comfortable inside.

2019 Audi SQ5 TDI Drivetrain

  • 48-volt electric system
  • Mild hybrid drivetrain
  • Up to 29 mpg
2019 Audi SQ5 TDI
- image 824633

This is where Audi beat everyone to the punch. Its 3.0-liter, turbodiesel has always been one of the best in the business, but for the new 2019 Audi SQ5 TDI, it is considerably improved with the technology previously introduced with the Audi SQ7.

In short, the new propulsion system for the 2019 Audi SQ5 TDI is actually a mild-hybrid with 347 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque.

Yup, a whole lot of torque. More than that of any of the muscle cars mentioned above. Yet, despite a slight power and torque upgrade compared to the previous Audi SQ5 TDI, the Germans managed to slash the fuel consumption and make this TDI engine one of the best with regards to power:fuel consumption ratio.

First of all, the SQ5 TDI finally has a 48-volt electric system. Volkswagen Group announced that it will basically convert all its cars from 12-volt to 48-volt systems because of the increased electric requirements. More electricity means that Audi can install an additional electric compressor. The 7-kW electric motor actually spins it really quick, and the compressor can achieve a maximum boost of 1.4 psi. As it works exclusively before 1,650 rpm, the compressor effectively gets rid of turbo-lag. In the real world, this basically means that the SQ5 TDI will have a whole lot of torque even at lower engine rpm.

2019 Audi SQ5 TDI
- image 824637

Yet another technology made possible thanks to the integration of the 48-volt electric system is the so-called MHEV (mild hybrid electric vehicle). This includes a Powerful belt-drive alternator-starter that can actually recuperate energy, provide a bit of power for the costing function between 34 mph and 99 mph, and enable a seamless start-stop function of up to 13.7 mph. Obviously, all the technology here does mean that the Audi SQ5 TDI is a seriously efficient machine.

The 2019 Audi SQ5 TDI will return up to 29 mpg. Remember, that’s a performance SUV that can surge to 60 in 5 seconds (probably less).

Just to give you some perspective here, let me tell you that the latest 2020 Kia Sportage with a 2.0-liter, turbocharged, gasoline engine with 240 horsepower will return roughly 22 mpg.

This is a wonderous SUV, I’m telling you.

2019 Audi SQ5 TDI
- image 824639

Apart from the state of the art powertrain, it does have a smart eight-speed transmission, Quattro permanent all-wheel drive (that can send up to 85 percent of power to the rear axle), an optional sport differential at the rear end, wheel-selective torque control (brakes inside wheels when turning), and a whole lot of safety gear. I mean, ALL safety gear there is basically, so I will not even list it as this car is about other things apart from safety.

Audi SQ5 Audi SQ5 TDI
Engine 3.0-liter TFSI® V-6 hybrid 3.0 V6 TDI
Horsepower 360 HP @ 6,000 RPM 347 HP
Torque 369 LB-FT @ 1,370-4,500 RPM 516 LB-FT @ 2,500-3,100 RPM
Transmission eight-speed tiptronic eight-speed tiptronic
0 to 60 mph 5.1 seconds < 5.0 seconds
Top Speed 155 mph 155 mph

2019 Audi SQ5 TDI Prices

2019 Audi SQ5 TDI
- image 824628

Wonderous and expensive, that is. In Germany, the 2019 Audi SQ5 TDI starts at $77,000. Yes, that’s huge, but the U.S. usually get marginally cheaper cars. But, it will not get a diesel. Actually, the 2019 Audi SQ5 in the U.S. comes with a 3.0-liter, turbocharged gasoline engine with 349 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. Honestly, I’d rather have a diesel than that one, just for laughs (and insane torque). The 2019 Audi SQ5 in the U.S. starts at $52,000.

2019 Audi SQ5 TDI Competition

Alpina XD3

2018 Alpina XD3 Exterior
- image 785058

This is basically the only direct competitor to the Audi SQ5 TDI. Manufacturers simply don’t produce diesel-powered performance SUVs. Aside from Audi and this Alpina XD3. True, as I have said before, the Alpina XD3 is basically a tuned up BMW X3 M40d. That one comes with a turbodiesel that develops 316 horsepower and just over 500 pound-feet of torque.

On the other hand, the quad-turbo diesel in the Alpina XD3 develops insane 383 horsepower and 568 pound-feet of torque. It will crack 60 in 4.5 seconds and hit 165 mph. That’s huge. Then again, massage the SQ5 TDI with a bit of software trickery, and you will reach 400 horsepower in an hour of work.

Read our full review on the 2018 Alpina XD3

Alfa Romeo Stelvio TI

2017 Alfa Romeo Stelvio High Resolution Exterior
- image 716831

No, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio TI isn’t a direct competitor to the Audi SQ5 TDI. It has a 2.0-liter, turbocharged engine with 280 horsepower and cannot match the SQ5 TDI in terms of speed. Plus, it’s cheaper. So, why the hell am I including it here?

It’s fun. Like properly so, and it’s definitely far quirkier than the Audi will ever. So, while its numbers certainly do not match that of the SQ5 TDI, the X factor, at least in my mind, definitely does. Now, if Alfa Romeo only jumped the gun on that 2.0-liter engine and tuned it up to 350 horsepower, we would have a direct competitor to the SQ5.
Yet, despite all I’ve just said about that X factor, the Audi SQ5 TDI is simply a whole lot better SUV. C’mon Alfa, detune that 2.9-liter from the Stelvio Quadrifoglio.

Read our full review on the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio TI

Porsche Macan S

2020 Porsche Macan S: New Engine, More Power, Same Sexy Appearance Exterior
- image 809437

The Macan is fundamentally linked with the Q5. Both cars basically share the architecture and almost all of the tech. Nevertheless, the Macan S does not come with a 3.0-liter, turbodiesel. Instead, it sports a 3.0-liter, turbocharged, gasoline engine with 348 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque. Obviously, really close to what the 3.0-liter, TDI does in the SQ5 TDI (no gasoline engine can match its torque though).

The Macan S is like a more premium and more unique offering on top of the Audi SQ5 TDI. But, aside from the awesome Porsche branding, the Macan S actually can do 60 mph in just under 5 seconds (with a Sport Chrono package). And, it is cheaper compared to the Audi SQ5 TDI. Yes, you read that right. In Germany, the Porsche Macan S starts at $73,000. Sure, if you do actually want the Sport Chrono Package (and you do, believe me), and a whole lot of other amazing Porsche technologies, the Macan S will easily surpass the price of the Audi SQ5 TDI.

Read our full review on the 2020 Porsche Macan S


2019 Audi SQ5 TDI
- image 824623

This may well be the end of diesel-powered compact SUVs from Audi Performance. With everyone seriously considering to end production of diesel engines, the SQ5 TDI may represent the highlight of the whole diesel culture. And it’s quite epic with all the technology we all considered impossible only a decade ago. Nevertheless, the 2019 Audi SQ5 TDI definitely does represent an addition to the sublime Audi SQ7 TDI SUV. I find that if anyone manages to reinvigorate the desire for diesel, it will be Audi (well, Volkswagen actually,) and the SQ5 TDI definitely does just that in the best way possible.

  • Leave it
    • Fake exhaust trim
    • Not available in the U.S.

Further reading

2017 Audi SQ5 High Resolution Exterior
- image 700477

Read our full review on the 2017 Audi SQ5.

2017 Audi Q5 High Resolution Exterior
- image 690293

Read our full review on the 2017 Audi Q5.

Safet Satara
About the author

700 Nm (516.3 lb-ft) of torque, output 255 kW (347 hp): The new Audi SQ5 TDI* once again has a powerful V6 engine under the hood, just like its successful predecessor of the first generation. An electric powered compressor ensures that maximum torque is available to the sporty SUV at just above idle; a mild hybrid system further enhances efficiency.

The 3.0 V6 TDI engine in the new Audi SQ5 TDI combines instant and supreme power with high efficiency. 255 kW (347 hp) and 700 Nm (516.3 lb-ft) – this massive torque is available continuously across a broad range from 2,500 to 3,100 rpm. The V6 diesel accelerates the sports SUV to highway speed in 5.1 seconds on its way to an electrically limited top speed of 250 km/h (155.3 mph). In the NEDC it consumes between 6.6 – 6.8 liters of diesel per 100 kilometers (35.6 – 34.6 US mpg), corresponding to 172 – 177 grams of CO2 per kilometer (276.8 – 284.9 g/mi). The SQ5 TDI is certified according to the Euro 6d-temp emission standard.

Audi has systematically refined the drive concept from the full-size SQ7 TDI* for the new SQ5 TDI. The 48-volt main electrical system includes an electric powered compressor (EPC) and a mild hybrid system. 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 electric powered compressor is the ideal assistant for the turbocharger. It helps out 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 curve. In everyday driving situations, the early and rapid torque development made possible by the technology keeps revs and fuel consumption low.

The electric 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 liters per 100 kilometers. 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 a speed between 55 and 160 km/h (34.2 and 99.4 mph), the new Audi SQ5 TDI can, depending on Audi drive select setting and driving situation, either recuperate, roll 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 that noticeably faster and more smoothly than a conventional starter. MHEV technology allows for start/stop operation at a speed of up to 22 km/h (13.7 mph). 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.

Optimized for supreme pulling power and maximum efficiency: the engine
This top output 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 short, sporty ratios, while the upper gears are long 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 S model from Audi, the new SQ5 TDI comes standard with quattro permanent all-wheel drive. In normal driving conditions, its self-locking center differential distributes torque between the front and rear axle 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 surface. During dynamic cornering, it brakes the wheels on the inside of the curve minimally before they begin to slip. The power is thus directed via the differential to the wheel with the better traction. The sports SUV turns into the curve ever so slightly. Its self-steering behavior remains neutral for a long time, and handling remains stable, precise and agile.

Customers can also order the SQ5 TDI with a sport differential on the rear axle. It actively distributes the power between the rear wheels during dynamic cornering. The sport differential literally pushes the car into the curve, 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 at the front and rear lays the foundation for the sporty driving characteristics of the new Audi SQ5 TDI. Audi also offers optional dynamic steering, which uses strain wave gearing to vary the steering ratio over a very wide range as a function of speed and steering angle. The suspension with damper control comes standard in the new SQ5 TDI. It lowers the body by 30 millimeters (1.2 in) compared with the Q5 with standard suspension. It offers a particularly wide spread between comfort and dynamics.

Along with the sport differential, engine, steering and tiptronic, 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. Audi also offers the S-specific adaptive air suspension as another option. It adapts not just the damping but also the body’s trim to the respective driving situation.

The new Audi SQ5 TDI comes standard with 20-inch cast aluminum wheels and 255/45-series tires. 21-inch wheels are available as an option. There is also a choice of three different 21-inch wheel designs from Audi Sport GmbH. Aluminum six-piston calipers on the front axle grip steel discs with a diameter of 375 millimeters (14.8 in). The black calipers (red optional) sport S logos.

Convenient and safe: the driver assistance systems
The new Audi SQ5 TDI offers a broad portfolio of driver assistance systems. The predictive efficiency assistant provides specific tips to help the driver save fuel. Audi active lane assist makes it easier to stay in your 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. These and other functions are brought together in the optional Tour assist package.

The optional 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 comes as standard. It warns the driver about pedestrians and vehicles, and if necessary initiates automatic emergency braking within system limits. Park assist, camera-based traffic sign recognition and hill descent control round out the optional features.

Logical and intelligent: controls infotainment and Audi connect
The MMI control concept in the Audi SQ5 TDI is easy to understand and features an intelligent free text search function. The natural-language voice control function also recognizes inputs from everyday speech. The third control level is the leather multifunction steering wheel, which is used to operate the driver information system or the optional Audi virtual cockpit. Depending on the setting, its 12.3-inch display shows an S-specific mode centered around the rev counter. Audi supplements this with a head-up display.

The infotainment lineup in the Audi SQ5 TDI follows a modular concept. At the top is MMI navigation plus with MMI all-in-touch and an 8.3-inch display. A standard component of the top system is Audi connect, which connects the SQ5 TDI to the internet via LTE and provides a WiFi hotspot for the passengers’ mobile devices.

The Audi phone box connects smartphones to the on-board antenna by near-field coupling and simultaneously charges them inductively using the Qi standard. The Audi smartphone interface brings Apple CarPlay and Android Auto into the car. For particularly discerning hi-fi fans, the Bang & Olufsen Sound System with 3D sound is available.

Sportily distinctive: the exterior design
Numerous exterior design details hint at the sporty 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 aluminum slats and contrasting trim elements in twilight gray 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 come standard in LED technology; the dynamic turn signals at the front and rear send unmistakable signals. The exterior mirror housings and the clasp on the diffuser sport a shining, aluminum-look finish. Door trim strips in the body color underscore the sportiness. The exterior color panther black is 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 sport seats conveys a dynamic and elegant ambiance. The S sport seats in leather and Alcantara can be upgraded to fine Nappa leather with rhombus pattern and a pneumatic massage function. Brushed aluminum inlays are standard, with elegant wood applications or an exclusive carbon inlay available as options. The shift paddles on the steering wheel sport an aluminum-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 liters (19.4 cu ft), which can be increased to 1,55sss0 liters (54.7 cu ft) by folding down the rear seat backrests.

Standard equipment in Germany includes 20-inch cast aluminum wheels in a 5-twin-spoke star design, LED headlights and suspension with S-specific damper control. The eight-speed tiptronic transmission, quattro permanent all-wheel drive, sport seats in leather/Alcantara and a three-spoke, leather-covered multifunction steering wheel are also standard equipment. The new Audi SQ5 3.0 TDI will begin arriving at German dealerships in Summer 2019 and have a base price of 67,750 euros.

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Press release

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