Did you find a distinct lack of 'S' in your SQ5? Well, Audi now has a solution. The 2016 Audi SQ5 Plus debuts with more power along with a host of extra mechanical and technology equipment.
The SQ5 has been a huge success for Audi in Australia with almost 3100 sold locally since the vehicle launched in 2013. The SQ5 sits 30mm lower than the standard Q5 and packs a mighty turbocharged V6 diesel engine that cranks out 240kW of power and 650Nm of torque. With a price tag of $92,600, Audi Australia found that owners were wanting more from the SQ5, which prompted the decision to introduce the SQ5 Plus to run alongside it.
Audi used the roads around Phillip Island in Victoria to launch the SQ5 Plus to the media, which now features an uprated 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 diesel engine that produces 250kW of power (up from 240kW) and 700Nm of torque (up from 650Nm).
While the engine has received a power and torque increase — thanks to an engine remap, injector pressure increase (from 2000 bar to 2100 bar, an increase of around 1450psi) and higher turbocharger boost pressure — the 0-100km/h time remains unchanged at 5.1 seconds, due to the extra weight of the SQ5 Plus's additional mechanical components.
Fuel consumption remains identical to the SQ5 at 6.8L/100km, meaning that it still sits within the low-emission luxury car tax threshold. Torque is sent to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
New to the SQ5 Plus is a quattro sports differential that adds torque vectoring, 20-inch alloy wheels, red brake calipers, Nappa leather interior package with diamond pattern seats, carbon inlays, adaptive cruise control with autonomous emergency braking, a unique joined rear tailpipe design and an extended high-gloss exterior package.
Our drive route left from the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit and went out toward the mainland's hills. The test vehicle's optional ($1500) 21-inch wheels worked well on the smooth roads leading away from Phillip Island. While the non-adaptive suspension is firm, it coped well with the coarse road leading away from the circuit.
As we ventured into the hills, that's where the SQ5 Plus's firm suspension started to become tiresome. The car would buck about on portions of the corrugated and rutted roads, feeling like it would greatly benefit from a passive adaptive suspension system.
This aside, the SQ5 Plus is really able to rocket out of corners. Under throttle the quattro sports differential is able to divert torque as required between the two rear wheels to ensure it tucks in as it powers out of a bend.
It's assisted by a huge wall of peak torque that hits from just 1500rpm all the way through to 2550rpm. That 700Nm slab of grunt is routed through the quick-shifting eight-speed automatic gearbox.
While it's not a dual-clutch unit, it provides brisk gearshifts and works well when left in the vehicle's Sport mode.
The electrically-assisted steering rack offers plenty of feedback and feel, with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters if you decide to take control of gear shifts.
Arguably the most impressive part of the package is the brakes. Measuring 380mm at the front with four-piston calipers, the rear uses 330mm with single-piston calipers. These huge stoppers supply the stopping power required to pull the SQ5 Plus up each and every time.
Exclusively fitted to the SQ5 Plus (the non-Plus SQ5 only uses a standard quattro all-wheel drive), the quattro sports differential works with the standard all-wheel-drive system to add torque vectoring.
Torque vectoring works in unison with the centre differential by further splitting torque and directing it between the two rear wheels. It allows the system to operate in conjunction with the stability control to provide a mechanical torque distribution system that helps eliminate understeer, but pushing torque to the outside rear wheel to bring the front end of the car back around.
Driving the SQ5 Plus on the road, it's hard to fully test this system. But, the same sports differential was fitted to an RS5 that was being driven around Phillip Island by race driver Steve Johnson (legendary race drive Dick Johnson's son), with yours truly riding shotgun. On the tighter bends and under throttle, the RS5 literally sent excess torque to the outer rear wheel to bring the front end around, essentially stopping any form of understeer.
It's under these extreme conditions that this incredible technology comes into its own. And, it also shows that on the open road, it's constantly working with the driver never knowing.
One could argue that an average driver would never put this hardcore technology to use, but it's reassuring to know that it's there if you ever choose to take your SQ5 Plus to the race track.
In the vehicle's dynamic mode, a sound actuator mounted near the exhaust tips amplifies the engine note and provides a unique exhaust note. It sounds nothing like a 'regular' diesel and gives the SQ5 Plus and incredibly meaty note.
For a car that has now been on the market for some time, it's encouraging to see Audi still investing in making the SQ5 an even better car.
Is it worth the extra $16,300? With around $13,000 of extra equipment, and with most owners spending around $10,000 on extra options, it's a good value proposition for a buyer serious about their diesel performance SUV.
The quattro sports differential and extra power and torque make it a force to be reckoned with.
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