Making its debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 2013 Audi SQ5 TDI is a landmark car for Audi's S brand – not only is it the first crossover to wear the S badge, but it's also the first equipped with a diesel engine.
Unlike the RSQ3 that debuted at the Beijing earlier this year, Audi intends to put the SQ5 TDI into production and begin European deliveries early next year. Most importantly, the SQ5 is powered by a 3.0-liter twin-turbo diesel V-6 that produces 313 hp and a reasonably massive 479 lb-ft of torque that peaks as low as 1450 rpm. The compact crossover will make the sprint from 0 to 62 mph in just 5.1 seconds and top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph. Audi also claims that it will be able to return the equivalent of 33 mpg on the European cycle and tow up to 5291 lbs. An eight-speed automatic transmission sends that power through the brand's Quattro all-wheel drive system to all four wheels, with automatic torque vectoring between wheels.
Audi has lowered the high-performance Q5 variant by 1.18 inches and added electromechanical power steering, the characteristics of which can be altered using the Audi drive select system. Also helping to up the sport factor are a set of 20-inch alloy wheels shod in 255/45 rubber; however, 21-inch wheels are also optional.
Differentiating the SQ5 TDI from lesser Q5s is a platinum-grey single-frame grille with the S-trademark galvanized double bars in aluminum finish. The exterior upgrades are rounded out with details like modified bumpers, a larger roof spoiler, aluminum-capped mirrors, a new rear diffuser, SQ5 TDI hatch badges, and quad exhaust. Audi will offer the SQ5 in just two colors: the Estoril Blue pictured here or Panther Black.
Inside, Audi has given its midsize crossover the full S treatment with black trim and sport seats shod in either Pearl Nappa leather and Alcantara or optional full leather. Brushed aluminum inlays are standard trimmings to accent the black cabin, but can be swapped out for piano black, Carbon Atlas, or new aluminum and Beaufort wood trim bits. For customers who want a brighter interior, there is a light silver headliner can be selected. Aluminum-look pedals and grey-backed gauges remind drivers that they're in an Audi S car; lest they forget, there are S badges on the black brake calipers, door sills, unique steering wheel, start button, shift knob, and infotainment system welcome screen.
The 2013 Audi SQ5 TDI will go on sale in the first quarter of next year in Europe with a price tag of €58,500 ($73,903). No word yet if Audi plans on bringing the hot SQ5 TDI to our shores to complement the 2013 Q5 2.0T, Q5 3.0T, and Q5 3.0 TDI.