Updated diesel performance SUV gains tech and improved efficiency, but gets a power cut.
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  • 2021 Audi SQ5 TDI officially unveiled
  • Launches in Australia in the second quarter of 2021
  • 3.0-litre diesel gains efficiency tweaks, but loses 4kW of power
  • Adaptive dampers standard, air suspension available as an option

Audi has unveiled the facelifted SQ5 TDI, ahead of its Australian launch in the second quarter of 2021.

The reveal of the diesel variant of the updated performance SUV comes just as the first examples of the pre-facelift SQ5 TDI 'Special Edition' reach Australian showrooms, and two months after images and details of the facelifted SQ5 TFSI petrol emerged in the US.

Under the bonnet is a tweaked version of the outgoing SQ5 TDI's 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 diesel engine, now fitted with forged steel pistons, a water-to-air intercooler, lighter turbocharger compressor wheel and other tweaks to improve efficiency.

Outputs are rated at 251kW of power and 700Nm of torque – 4kW down over its predecessor, though its torque is available over a greater range, from 1750-3250rpm. Despite the power cut, performance claims remain unchanged, with Audi pegging the 0-100km/h sprint time and electronically-limited top speed at 5.1 seconds and 250km/h respectively.

The pre-facelift TDI's 48-volt mild-hybrid has also been revised for 2021, allowing the SUV to coast at speed for up to 40 seconds with the engine switched off, recover up to 8kW of power under deceleration, and reduce fuel consumption by up to 0.7 litres per 100 kilometres.

Tweaks to the system's electrically-powered compressor – which spools the turbocharger at low speeds when exhaust flow is insufficient – improves response at low speeds.

Drive is still sent to all four wheels through an eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmission and Audi's signature 'Quattro' all-wheel-drive system, the latter offering a 40:60 front-to-rear torque split in normal driving, and capable of sending up to 70 per cent of torque to the front wheels or 85 per cent to the rear when necessary. Brake-based torque vectoring – which brakes the innermost wheels in a sharp bend to improve handling – is standard.

S sport suspension with adaptive dampers – which lower the SQ5's ride height by 30mm compared to standard Q5 models – are standard-fit, with adaptive air suspension available as an option.

Variable sports steering and a limited-slip 'sport' rear differential are available as options.

20-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 255/45-profile tyres are standard, while 21-inch units are available as an option – they hide 375mm front brake discs clamped by six-piston, black or red-painted aluminium calipers.

Six drive modes are on offer: Auto, Comfort, Efficiency, Dynamic, Off-Road and Individual. A seventh mode, Allroad, is added if the available air suspension system is optioned.

Visual differences between the new SQ5 (both TDI and TFSI) and standard versions of the facelifted Q5 are minor, consisting of quad exhaust tips, metallic-look mirror caps and 'SQ5' badging. The standard car's optional matrix LED headlights and OLED tail-lights are also available on the sporty S model.

Changes between regular and S-badged Q5s are equally minimal inside the cabin, where highlights consist of electrically-adjustable sport seats with embossed S logos, contrast stitching on the flat-bottomed sports steering wheel and seats, and Audi's latest MIB3 infotainment system, hosted through a 10.1-inch central touchscreen and 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, the latter offering Dynamic, Sport and Classic modes.

Options include carbon-look trim (compared to the standard-fit brushed aluminium), red Nappa leather upholstery, massaging seats, a sliding rear bench seat, a head-up display and an electric tailgate.

Available active safety technologies include autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist and 'predictive efficiency assist' that "maintains a predictive driving style with the goal of lowering fuel consumption".

The 2021 Audi SQ5 TDI will go on sale in Australia in the second quarter of 2021. Local pricing and specifications will be announced closer to launch.