Audi SQ5 TDI pictures and hands-on

The Audi Q series is incredibly popular as a luxury softroader and it's easy to see why. The Q range of SUVs makes an easy choice for someone looking for a domineering position on the road, plenty of technology and the reassurance of Audi's attention to detail. If you have the cash, that is.

Bringing a boost to the Q series is this monster, the Audi SQ5. Yes, this is the first Audi diesel to get the S moniker, bringing with it more power and S styling. And we crashed it, on launch day in the UK, but more on that later. Please note, that the vehicle we crashed isn't the one pictured here - what you're looking at is a perfect SQ5 we swapped to after the incident.

At first glance, the Audi SQ5 isn't too far removed from its regular Q5 cousin, with only a dab of S body styling, a change to the brake calipers, a new front grille and the meaty twin tailpipes on both sides finished in chrome. It makes the Q5 look slightly weedy on the road.

The SQ5 also rides 30mm lower than its regular variant and arguably yes, this is a car that has four-wheel drive to improve the reliability on the road, rather than to see you leaping across fields and streams, although it would be happy to do so given the right tyres for the job. But twinned with a 3-litre bi-turbo diesel engine, it will also give you 313 PS, meaning a 0-62mph time of 5.1 seconds, making it fleeter than a Porsche Cayenne S or BMW X3 M Sport.

But this doesn't feel like an overpowered SUV on the road. It doesn't wallow in the corners and that bi-turbo diesel doesn't pause to think when you put your foot down. Paired with the 8-speed tiptronic gearbox, it drives more like a powerful saloon. It also returns, according to Audi, 41.5mpg, so it has economy more like a saloon too.

That's exactly the intention, of course, and it means that the Audi SQ5 offers the advantages of some offroad capabilities, but also great visibility and presence on the road. It's a lovely car to drive and even though it's spacious and convenient, it doesn't feel like you've compromised to get that size.

The interior is dripping in quality as you'd expect from Audi, with convenient placement of controls making it easy enough to access everything on offer. Except perhaps the hazard warning lights, which was the only button we couldn't find when we were involved in a five-car collision in Audi's brand new SQ5.

We'll spare you all the details, but it's not often that you have to perform an emergency braking procedure so it seems worth a mention. Stamp your foot on the brake and the Audi SQ5 will bring itself to a very abrupt and controlled halt, ABS clicking away as it stays clinging to the road.

Brand new brakes, brand new types and a nice firm right foot meant we didn't plough into the collision that had happened ahead, but where this sizable Audi managed to stop short, neither of the two cars behind did. Both German marques, we'll hasten to add, but we'll leave it at that. No one was hurt.

It's a comfortable car to crash in too, with the electronically adjustable leather seats featuring SQ5 embossing and a lovely high-quality feel to the three-spoke leather sports steering wheel, which is equipped with controls so you don't have to take your eyes off the road.

In the centre of the cabin you'll find the 6.5-inch display for the Audi entertainment and navigation system, with the hazard light button sitting just to the left (note to self). Control of the entertainment system is either through the steering wheel controls or the buttons and dial set behind the gear lever, which is a little far back for operation when driving, and better left to the passenger.

Paired the Bang & Olufsen sound system, you get 14 speakers and two amplifiers, delivering 505W of noise, which is adjusted to cater for background noise. It sounds stunning and complements the rest of the package nicely. There's also a sensible amount of space in the backseats, so a comfortable ride for passengers, with a powered boot offering 540 litres of storage.

Because of our little accident we didn't have as much time driving the Audi SQ5 as we would have liked. As we've said, the vehicle pictured here wasn't involved in the crash as we thought you'd rather see it's beautiful looks unsullied. Starting at £44,055, the model pictured here is £54,970 with plenty of optional extras.