Once limited to those looking for better fuel economy, diesels are increasingly being offered by luxury and performance brands. Well, at least in Europe. Mercedes-Benz has always had them, but Porsche joined the fray a while back with the Cayenne, and Maserati is said to be preparing a diesel SUV too.
BMW though has forged into new territory with the M diesel models – M550d xDrive sedan, M550d xDrive touring, X5 M50d and X6 M50d. Unfortunately, we can’t any of them here in the United States. Audi is getting in on the fun with the SQ5, and – you guessed it – the diesel-powered crossover is for Europe only. It is the first S badged Audi product to be powered by a diesel engine.
The particular unit in question is a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter making 313 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. Got to love diesel torque! Mated to the engine is Audi’s eight-speed transmission. That diesel grunt pushes the SQ5 to 60 mph in five seconds, on its way to a top speed of 155 mph. Interestingly, Audi isn’t offering the diesel SQ5 model along with a gasoline variant. It is the first performance edition of the Q5, and is diesel-only. This could be a pattering we see in upcoming sport versions of Audi’s crossovers.
In typical S fashion the SQ5 gets more aggressive front fascia, 1.18-inch lower suspension and unique 20-inch wheels. Audi has fitted a sound actuator that pumps engine sounds into the cabin. Does this mean they developed a pleasant sounding diesel? Audi says so quite simply: “the 3.0 TDI biturbo has a great sound.” Maserati, on the other hand, is said to be looking into technology that pumps a synthetic exhaust note into the speakers. They should take a hint from Audi, focus on the sound and just fit an actuator. The SQ5 gets an impressive 32.67 US miles per gallon on the European mileage cycle. The SQ5 goes on sale in the beginning of next year, starting at €58,500 (a whopping $74,376 USD at current exchange rates).
UPDATE: 2014 Audi SQ5 details & pricing (for the US)