THE Audi Q5 is a powerfully-styled family SUV in its own right - add the sporty ‘S' treatment and it really raises the stakes.
With a V6, 3.0-litre, turbo-diesel engine delivering 341ps of power and 700Nm of torque, the SQ5 can hit 62mph from a standing start in just 5.1 seconds and tops out at an electronically-limited 155mph. Impressive performance stats for a vehicle that has an unladen weight of just over two tonnes.
And it's a looker too with its muscular styling, including Matrix LED headlights and dynamic indicators, black roof rails, a panoramic glass sunroof, privacy glass and striking 21-inch alloys.
Step inside and the interior is high-end and modern in its layout with a wealth of high quality fixtures and fittings. The red Nappa leather upholstery would not be everyone's cup of tea, but looks stunning just the same and there is ‘S' badging on the chunky gear lever, steering wheel and seats. Elsewhere soft-touch surfaces, decorative inlays and piano black trimmings maintain the high standard.
The cockpit is driver-focused and on-board tech levels are generous a Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system, a 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen, full smartphone connectivity, a DAB radio, sat nav, a head-up display, Bluetooth, park assist and deluxe air conditioning.
The supportive seats are power-operated and there are memory settings along with a massaging function for the front occupants.
Despite its SUV dimensions, it's well planted through the lanes with minimal body sway no matter how enthusiastically bends are attacked. The steering is nicely weighted and, apart from the roar of the engine, the cabin remains well protected from any outside noise.
This car eats up motorway miles in an instant, but keep a watch on that speed as it reaches 70mph in the blink of an eye and has so much more to offer. Any road creases are smoothed out by the highly-effective suspension set-up and the vehicle is also easy to manoeuvre in busier town centres, where the good all-round driver visibility and park assist are both plus points.
In addition, there are drive modes to flick through that alter the driving characteristics of the car. These are called Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, Off-road, Allroad and Individual.
Admittedly, this amount of luxury and performance does come at a cost with the range-topping Vorsprung edition, as tested, starting from £74,175. Our vehicle had a number of optional extras that saw the final price climb to £76,310. Running costs are not so terrifying though for such a powerhouse of a car with a combined 33.6mpg, but the carbon emissions figure of 221g/km will result in a hefty initial road tax bill.
On the practicality front, there is ample space in the back of the car for a trio of passengers to sit comfortably, provided the front seats are not pushed right back. The rear seats can be heated and storage options are good with a boot that can accommodate 550 litres of kit, increasing to 1,550 with the rear seats dropped flat.
Alternative storage options throughout the vehicle include a lockable glovebox, door pockets with room for a water bottle, front and rear cup holders, a central cubby bin with charge port, seat back nets and some trays.
A pop-out tow bar is an optional extra costing Â£765 and the SQ5 can pull a caravan or trailer weighing up to 2.4 tonnes, making it ideal for family adventures, especially as it also features Quattro - Audi's impressive all-wheel drive set-up.
With a maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, the SQ5 is packed with features to keep occupants safe. Systems include Audi pre-sense city, pre-sense rear, camera-based traffic sign recognition, side assist, hill-hold assist, Isofix child seat fixtures, a full suite of airbags and lots more besides.