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Detroit show: potent Audi SQ5 debuts

354hp model to top new Audi Q5 SUV range.

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A 354hp engine powers the new Audi SQ5, unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Like its predecessor, the first Audi Q model to gain a sporty S variant, the new SQ5 will again become the flagship version of the latest Audi Q5 range, which is set to arrive in showrooms in April.

The new Audi SQ5 uses the brand’s V6 TFSI petrol engine, which also puts out 500Nm of torque and propels the car through 62mph from rest in 5.4 seconds.

Efficiency improvements, mainly through a new combustion process that changes the amount of valve lift depending on the load, sees the car returning combined cycle fuel economy of 34mpg and CO2 emissions of 189g/km.

Turbocharging replaces the supercharged unit fitted to the previous SQ5 – a twin-scroll turbocharger is mounted in the Vee between the two cylinder banks. This allows short flow lengths for the intake and exhaust and more efficient gas flow.

The unit is also 14kg lighter than the unit it replaces and matched to an eight-speed tiptronic transmission and quattro permanent all-wheel-drive. Power biases slightly to the rear under normal driving but can be transferred to any axle that most needs it, with torque control that works on all types of surface.

Slight braking of the inside wheels under cornering improves turn in, and this can be further enhanced with an optional sport differential. Mounted between the rear wheels it can increase torque to the outside axle when accelerating out of a tight corner. It can also cut understeer on turn-in.

Five-link suspension is fitted at front and rear along with active dampers, their settings determined along with engine, steering and transmission by the cockpit-controlled Audi Drive Select system. Cast aluminium 20-inch wheels are fitted as standard, with 21-inch versions on the options list.

Driver aids feature

Equipment already offered on the new Audi Q5 range is extended to the SQ5, including an expanding selection of driver-assistance systems such as the pre-sense city aid that warns the driver of encroaching pedestrians and vehicles and can brake the car automatically if needed. Audi’s range-topping MMI navigation and infotainment system is also fitted as standard.

Audi SQ5 orders open at the end of January with the first versions arriving in showrooms in the summer of 2017. Prices are to be announced but expected to be slightly more than the £52,300 of the previous version.

Audi SQ5 03

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Andrew Charman
Andrew Charman
Andrew is a road test editor for The Car Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars for more than 20 years. Today he is well known to senior personnel at the major car manufacturers and attends many new model launches each year.