WORLD PREMIERE: Audi SQ5 TDI — Another Diesel Performer US Won’t Get

America never gets any of Germany’s fun diesel cars. Instead, we get boring things like the Audi A4 Allroad. All the while, Europe keeps getting more and more new diesel performance machines and we can’t help but be jealous. The latest is the Audi SQ5 TDI and it’s going to be the best model in the Q5 lineup.

To be honest, the Audi SQ5 TDI isn’t all that different from the standard SQ5 that’s been on sale worldwide for some time now. The major difference is its engine.

Rather than the current Audi SQ5’s 3.0 liter turbocharged V6 gasoline engine, the new SQ5 TDI uses a new 3.0 liter turbocharged V6 diesel engine that has been thoroughly revised for performance duty. It also gets a lot of the same technology as the Audi SQ7 TDI’s 4.0 liter V8 diesel. So rather than just having one turbocharger for the turbo-diesel V6, it has an additional EPC (Electrically-Powered Compressor), which is essentially an electric turbocharger, to assist in delivering low-end boost.

Because the EPC is powered electrically, rather than driven by exhaust gases like a traditional turbocharger, there’s no turbo-lag from it. Therefor, it can deliver low-rpm boost and torque, thus eliminating the car’s turbo-lag and giving it better acceleration from both a dead stop and low-rpm cruising.

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To power the EPC, the Audi SQ5 TDI has a 48-volt main electrical system that can help run both it and the mild-hybrid setup. That’s right, the Audi SQ5 TDI is also a MHEV (Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle), as it has a Batter-Alternator Starter. The BAS is, in a nutshell, a small electric motor that can power the crankshaft to either start the engine while already warm or even let the engine power down and still provide enough acceleration to keep the car cruising at highway speeds.

Audi has also revised the internals of the engine, giving it a new crankshaft, new pistons, new connecting rods and a new oil management system. Even its cooling system has been revised, giving both the cylinder head and engine block separate cooling circuits. Coolant flow is even directed toward the oil cooler, EPC, BAS and turbocharger as-needed.

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All of this combines to give the engine 347 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. That’s a huge amount of torque for the Audi SQ5 and about as much horsepower as the standard gasoline version. The regular SQ5 makes 354 hp and 369 lb-ft, by comparison. So you can guess which one is punchier off the line. According to the press release, Audi claims it can accelerate “to highway speed” in 5.1 seconds. While we assume that means 0-62 mph (100 km/h), don’t quote us on that. That does seem like a reasonable 0-62 mph time for this car, though, and we wouldn’t be surprised if all that torque allowed it to get there a tick or two quicker.

Aside from the engine, 48-volt electrical system and MHEV setup, the Audi SQ5 TDI is essentially the same as the standard car. So it sill has the same eight-speed automatic and sporty suspension setup, with option air suspension, and the sharper steering of the regular SQ5. It also gets Quattro all-wheel drive as-standard and a limited-slip rear sports differential as an optional extra.

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On both the outside and inside, it looks virtually the same as the standard SQ5, just with some new as-standard wheels. Though, we don’t like the new wheels as much as the regular car’s.

The Audi SQ5 TDI is an interesting car because it provides much more torque, especially at the low-end, than the standard car while also improving efficiency. It should be the best version of the SQ5 when it finally goes on sale this Summer in Germany. Prices start at €67,750.

Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.