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Audi SQ5, motoring review: It may not be flashy, but this new SUV is fearsomely fast

  • @Jamie_Merrill

PRICE £43,075
ENGINE Capacity 3-litre twin-turbo diesel V6
POWER OUTPUT (BHP @ RPM) 313 @ 3,900-4,500

Volkswagen Group has world-dominating ambitions, that's for sure. It has posted record sales of its luxury Porsches, Audis and Bentley models and has its heart set on overtaking Toyota to become the world's biggest car maker by 2018.

So when David Cameron talks about Britain's booming luxury-car industry at European Union summits, Angela Merkel must struggle to keep a straight face. Here we produce close to 1.5 million cars a year, but some of our most prized manufacturers (Mini, Rolls-Royce and Bentley) are owned by massive German concerns, whereas in Germany more than six million cars a year roll out of its factories. And VW Group sells 3.3 million cars to China alone.

At the moment, it's Audi that's pumping out the profit for VW, with 1.6 million cars last year. It's done this by finding every single conceivable niche, then filling it with a new model. Browse the Audi website and you'll see 40-odd types of hatchbacks, saloons, stretch-saloons, shrunken hatchbacks, SUVs and sports cars for sale.

And apparently, the latest niche that needs filling is for an SUV that's also a sports car. Enter the new Audi SQ5. To all intents and purposes, it's a fairly standard Audi SUV you'd see on the streets of suburbia, but it will hit 155mph and has a sound actuator that pumps engine noise into the cabin. I'm not sure what use that is on the school run.

It won't stand out outside the school gates, though, because it's a stealth wagon – a car that looks normal, but can beat a sports car off the lights. Thankfully, that means it does without bling spoilers, and inside, it's the usual story of Germanic attention to detail.

What's really odd, though, is that it gets its power from a diesel engine, which to some purists is like running a Ferrari on woodchips. Either way, it's chuffing quick in a straight line and, for once, gives some sort of vague nod to environmental awareness. More of a gentle movement than a full-headed affirmation, but it's something.

In all honesty, I like my go-faster Audis not to come in estate form, as it's quite bonkers to try to get a high-riding SUV to handle like a sports car. But the SQ5 fires along like a rocket, proving the laws of physics can be bent to the will of German car executives. Angela will be pleased.