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Used test: Audi SQ5 vs Porsche Macan S

These sporty SUVs offer thrilling performance, but does the Audi SQ5 or Porsche Macan make the superior used buy?...

Audi SQ5 vs Morsche Macan S

The contenders

Audi SQ5 3.0 V6 TDI quattro 

List price when new £55,035
Price today £42,000*
Available from 2017-present

The SQ5 may use diesel power, but don't mistake it for a performance softy 

Porsche Macan S 3.0 V6

List price when new £50,635
Price today £47,000*
Available from 2014-present

As a sharp-to-drive SUV, the Macan is well suited to this punchy engine

*Price today is based on a 2019 model with average mileage and full service history according to the What Car? Valuation service, correct at time of writing

Switching from a petrol engine to diesel one is about as common these days as ditching your Spotify playlist for an iPod Nano. Saying that,  it does happen, and in 2019 Audi announced its SQ5 would be receiving a 3.0-litre diesel to replace its previous petrol unit. 

Audi SQ5 rear

A brave move, for sure, especially when it concerns the fastest, sportiest version of the Q5 large SUV. Fortunately, the official performance figures suggest that the change was no downgrade, but did this surprising revision spoil the fun in the real world?

 One method of testing whether the diesel SQ5 has the brawn (and brains) to live up to its sporty name is to put it up against a top-notch sports SUV. One of our favourites is the Porsche Macan, and here we have it as a 3.0-litre petrol car – its best form in our view. 

And one, last, crucial aspect you'll want to hear is that these two are used cars in this test, meaning you can save a notable amount of money off their new-car prices. Read on to find out how they compare.

Porsche Macan S rear


Performance, ride, handling, refinement

Although these cars drink from different fuel pumps, they’re almost inseparable when it comes to outright acceleration. With their launch control functions engaged to maximise acceleration from a standing start, both use their four-wheel drive systems to find absurd amounts of traction, rocketing from a standstill to 60mph in less than five seconds. Not so long ago you’d have needed a serious sports car for that kind of performance.

Raw numbers can tell you only so much, though. In the real world, the SQ5 and Macan deliver their performance in distinctly different ways.

Audi SQ5 front

In the SQ5, there’s not a lot to be gained from revving the engine to the red line. Instead, it’s better to leave the automatic gearbox to its own devices and use the engine’s deep reserves of low-rev muscle to waft you down the road. It’s very effective, if not particularly thrilling.

The Macan’s V6 petrol engine still pulls pretty well from low revs, but there really is an advantage to revving it out, aided by a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox that fires through shifts quicker than the SQ5’s eight-speeder. Extracting the best from the Macan’s engine is genuinely exciting.

This driver-focused feel continues on demanding country roads. The Macan’s steering is more naturally weighted than the SQ5’s, and although the Audi has more front-end grip, the Macan allows you to have more fun as you approach its limits, thanks to its more playful balance and better body control.

Porsche Macan S front

Of course, it’s unlikely these SUVs will be cornering quite that hard on a frequent basis, which is why day-to-day comfort is also important. Here, the Macan pulls farther ahead. With both SUVs on adaptive suspension (a standard feature from new on the SQ5 but an £816 optional extra on its rival), it’s the supple yet tightly controlled Macan that feels the more pliant car, both in town and on the motorway.

True, the SQ5 lets in slightly less wind noise, but it generates more road noise over coarse surfaces. And while both engines settle down nicely at a steady cruise, it’s the Macan’s that sounds sweeter and more natural when you put your foot down.