In pure straight line pace the SQ5 is fast, but not quite as explosively so as, say, the Mercedes-AMG GLC 43. Yet if you’re after something that is quick but also effortless to drive, i.e. it gains speed without needing to be ragged, then the immense torque that this 3.0 TDI engine produces does the job. There’s still some momentary low-end turbo lag, even with the EPC, but otherwise the engine responds so forcefully in its mid-range that you barely need to flex your right toe; you’re up to 70mph or swiftly past that dawdling Sunday driver in no time at all. And it even sounds better than any diesel has the right to, thanks to a sound generator in its exhaust that delivers a purposeful parp.
The brakes prove awesome at shedding speed but also easy to apply smoothly. The standard eight-speed automatic gearbox is a little slow to kick down several gears in one hit, but it sifts through its gears smoothly and speedily the rest of the time – especially if you change gears manually using the paddle shifters mounted behind the steering wheel.
There are various driving modes to flick between, the most focused of which is Dynamic. This sharpens the SQ5's accelerator response, adds weight to the steering and makes the gearbox even more assertive. If you've chosen to add the optional S adaptive air suspension, Dynamic mode also stiffens that up to reduce body lean through corners.
The results are good. Thanks to progressive and accurate steering it’s dead easy to place the SQ5 exactly where you want on the road, which applies whether you’re carving blithely along your favourite B-road or funnelling down the outside lane of a motorway. And it controls its body remarkably well through tight bends and feels more eager to change direction than the GLC 43. The Porsche Macan might be a little more fun, with its more rear-biased four-wheel drive set-up, but we doubt that it would actually prove any faster round a track.
Flick the SQ5 back into Comfort mode and everything relaxes. That includes the air suspension (where fitted), so around town it deals with lumps and bumps commendably for something with 20in alloy wheels —even the 21in alloys fitted to Vorsprung models don’t ruin the ride — and once on the motorway it is supremely cosseting. If you throw into the equation the SQ5's whisper-quiet levels of wind and road noise, it makes for a hugely relaxing car to cover big miles in.
We’re yet to try the standard suspension, though. If it’s follows the lead of the regular Q5 models, don’t be surprised to find it’s a bit firmer.