It’s funny how things go around in seemingly endless cycles. A decade or so ago, if you wanted a fast SUV it simply had to have a whacking great petrol engine. Then, just a few years back, you’d have been viewed as highly suspicious for choosing anything without diesel power, so it was obvious that the original Audi SQ5 would be a diesel. Yet, when the second generation came along in 2017, it had a powerful 3.0-litre turbocharged petrol V6 nestling under its bonnet — suddenly, the green pump was back in vogue.
Since then we’ve had the BMW X3 M40i (although there’s an M40d, too), the Mercedes-AMG GLC 43, and an entirely revamped Porsche Macan range that hasn’t a single diesel engine in its line-up. And of course, with the repercussions of ‘Dieselgate’ still dictating buying trends, that all makes perfect sense.
So why then, after dropping the petrol SQ5 in 2018, did Audi reintroduce it in 2019 with a new, V6 3.0 TDI diesel? You might argue this was ignoring public opinion, but there are at least two reasons to consider that Audi might be on to something.
Firstly, a large, high-performance SUV with a powerful petrol engine will drink more than the local rugby team on a celebratory bender — when we tested it, the petrol SQ5 averaged 24mpg at best. And secondly, this current-generation diesel employs a number of neat features to keep it clean.
It has an electric compressor (EPC) to improve the engine’s low-end responsiveness. The EPC runs off a 48-volt, mild-hybrid electrical system that has two main functions: it recovers energy during braking to power the EPC, which is energy that would otherwise be lost, and it allows the engine to switch off completely and coast for periods up to 40sec when you lift off the accelerator. Clearly, when an engine isn’t running, even a diesel, it’s no more polluting than a field of buttercups.
With that in mind, then, does the latest SQ5 make any sense? Read on to see how it drives, what it’s like inside, and how the numbers stack up compared with its rivals. If you fancy one, or any new car for that matter, be sure to head to our New Car Buying page for the very best deals available.