The days of the load-lugging SUV are well and truly behind us. The modern SUV is, in many cases, about as detached from the old utilitarian mud-crawling stereotype as it can possibly be. Sexy, stylish and above all, capable of packing a hefty punch in the performance department, these cars are now without doubt the most marketable and fastest-selling in the world today.
This is, of course, by no means a new phenomenon. The trend towards high performance SUVs, exemplified by last year’s outstanding Bentley Bentayga, has been on an upwards and ever more ambitious curve for several years now. Audi was just one of the big name manufacturers to join the gathering super SUV tidal wave with the original SQ5 in 2013, its first hack at a diesel powered S model. Now, at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show, it’s time to see what the German marque has got up its sleeve for the second generation SQ5.
Based on the all-new core Q5, itself set to hit showrooms this April, the new incarnation boasts a newly configured 349bhp 3.0 TFSI V6 powertrain. Improvements to the turbocharger, which now features a separate exhaust gas flow, cut down on lag and ensure maximum 369lb-ft torque gets funnelled through the wheels quicker and earlier than before. A pinch lighter than its predecessor and with a quick shifting eight-speed tiptronic transmission calling the shots, the new SQ5 promise to demolish the 0-62mph barrier in 5.4 seconds and redline at 155mph.
Audi’s emblematic quattro all-wheel drive is back as standard, this time with an optional sport differential to further optimise handling by intuitively juggling torque between the rear wheels. Other mechanical highlights include the five-link suspension front and rear with adaptive dampers for a smooth ride on virtually any road surface.
Audi’s S range has never been the most ostentations in the styling department, particularly compared to its head turning carbon-clad RS derivatives. That’s not to say that the 2017 SQ5 is lacking in visual impact. Like its predecessor, it’s more of a stealth bomber than a fighter jet in SUV terms. The new edition gets revised bumpers up front and at the rear are bookended by more a pair of contoured, S-line air inlets and a honeycomb grille diffuser. Meanwhile, 20-inch cast aluminium wheels are fitted as standard with the option of an Audi Sport-exclusive 21-inch set also on the table. Red brake callipers can be specified for further customization, whilst at the rear the S-specific twin exhaust tailpipes immediately catch the eye.
The revamped cabin sports illuminated door sills emblazoned with S logos plus a number of wood and brushed aluminium interior features. Aluminium-look shift paddles enable the driver to quickly cycle through the tiptronic’s gears, whilst infotainment is provided in the form of an 8.3-inch touch and handwriting-sensitive display.
Following on from the standard Q5’s release, first deliveries of the all-new Audi SQ5 in the UK are expected for summer 2017.