The SQ5 TDI is the Plus formula’s most recent student, but its changes aren’t so dramatic.
Power for its 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 oiler’s risen to 250kW/700Nm. Higher pressure injectors, a new fuel pump, an engine remap, and more boost are to thank for the extra herbs. But even with an extra 10kW and 50Nm, the SQ5 Plus isn’t any faster than the standard car – its mass needing a harder shove to improve its 5.1sec time to 100km/h.
It doesn’t matter though, because the engine’s a silken brute. It’ll hurl the two-tonne SUV up roads with effortless ease and wind out with un-diesel like freeness. It’s polite too, hardly intruding the cabin with clatter, but filling the air with an actuated but likeable rort from its two twin-tailpipes.
Audi’s also added a rear active sports differential as part of the ‘Plus’ treatment, and as a result the SQ5 Plus uses its (optional) 255/40 R21 Dunlops to surge out of corners with hot-hatch like tenacity.
However, the variable-steering and driver’s seat don’t transmit the levels of feedback wanted when driving at these tenths. It’s to be expected, though. Audi left the base SQ5’s suspension alone and the ride/handling mix remains good, even on the huge low-profile wheels, but just smothers your connection to the road.
While the active rear-diff adds a lot of dynamic talent, this isn’t a car that suits driving that would justify such hardware. We wouldn’t take an SQ5 to a track day, and we’d prefer to pocket the cash for the diff instead.
With that, and the extra power not improving acceleration, the $16K is left to justify the extra kit. You score more safety tech, like adaptive cruise and auto-city brake, but that’s hardly news on a $90K-odd base car.
The Plus certainly looks the part. And with a $16,300 premium over the base model it should. Red brake calipers peer through ‘special’ 20-inch wheels (optional 21s pictured), an interior leather design package surrounds real carbon-fibre inlays, and the seats feature diamond quilted blue stitching.
The extras step up the class and style, but you’d have to be a sucker for detail to deem its special one-piece exhaust tips, gloss-black exterior bits wing mirrors, and diamond-quilted leather seats as must-haves.
The SQ5 plus is a solid reminder of the base car’s unique appeal, a ‘decently’ priced luxury SUV with hot-hatch imitating performance– from a diesel. But while the Plus adds more power, safety, and luxury to this equation, we feel it might not add much sense.
3.5 STARS out of 5
Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6, diesel, DOHC, 32v
Power: 250kW @ 4100-4300rpm
Torque: 700Nm @ 1500-2550rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
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