2022 Audi SQ5 TDI v 2022 Jaguar F-Pace P400 HS
Pair of familiar SUV faces bring advanced new six-cylinder engines to a fierce under-bonnet battle
I’ll never forget the day my high-school history teacher Miss Ashman turned up to a lesson with two black eyes and a no se splinted with more supports than a scaffolder’s roof rack. Turns out, this slight, quiet young lady was a karate expert and the only way her students were ever going to find out was if she sustained some kind of visible injury – a rare occurrence, it turned out. I remember being shocked to learn that a teacher could be conservative and timid during the day but a merciless and efficient fighter when school’s out.
So yes, appearances can be misleading and even when you think you know someone, they can occasionally prove you wrong and surprise you in the most delightful way. Take the Jaguar F-Pace, for example. When it launched in 2016 it proved a large SUV could be rakishly beautiful, exclusive and agile all at the same time, while Audi’s freshly updated Q5 is the poster child for practical quality. But both the representatives you see here hide a secret like a history graduate that can crescent kick you in the back of the head while looking you in the eye.
While the F-Pace and Q5 were introduced with a relatively conventional line of engine options, both have been recently treated to a variant that packs in a silky six-cylinder donk boosted by a turbo, an electric supercharger and a mild hybrid system – the F-Pace P400 and the SQ5 respectively. The result is a pair of engines that manage to be rich in power and torque but ask for relatively little fuel to produce their impressive fi gures. In the case of the Audi, it uses a 3.0-litre V6 to produce 251kW and 700Nm with claimed economy of 7.0L/100km, while the Jaguar makes 294kW and 550Nm from the same capacity in straight-six confi guration and drinks an official 8.7L/100km on the ADR combined cycle.
Those figures reveal the fundamental difference between the Brit and the German powerplant – the SQ5 runs on a diet of diesel, while the F-Pace is pure petrol. Which translates as the best strategy for powering a two-tonne sports SUV? That’s why we’re in a very damp and cold Victorian forest to find out.
Parked on the side of a winding mountain road, the pair couldn’t look more different. Presented in a sharp pearl white and rolling on optionally blacked-out 21-inch wheels, the Audi looks like the visitor in town. If it was a lone rider, it would be taking occasional glances over its shoulder, while its stance is coiled and ready to bolt with a moment’s notice.
The Jag however looks positively relaxed with a dank woodland as its backdrop. Its long bonnet, flowing lines and Eiger Grey paint ($1890) ooze an elegance the Audi can’t match but both manage to be handsome in their own right.
On a shoe store rack the Jaguar would be a nubuck Chelsea boot while the Audi is a Reebok Pump.
Cylinder orientation and fuel type are not the only things setting these two premium SUVs apart, with the Jaguar measuring 65mm longer and about 100mm wider, but both weigh in a bit over the 2000kg mark.
As far as clash of the cabins goes, it’s unusual for an Audi to not comprehensively destroy its competition with typical design, style and build quality but, on this occasion, the SQ5 interior is not the clear winner.
While its cabin is the classic Audi combination of understated and sharp design, good ergonomics and topquality materials, the Jaguar delivers a similarly strong formula. Opposing the Audi’s subtle black cabin, our F-Pace was presented in stunning Mars Red leather upholstery. Take a seat in the front row of the sportiest Q5 and it’s another typical Audi experience with firm but ergonomically well designed and supportive accommodation. Although, finding the right driving position takes a bit of messing with the electric steering column and seat base adjustment. Slide into the Jag’s gorgeous sea of red and you’re met with a greater sense of opulence and occasion. With its more conservative exterior colouring, spending time in the bright interior feels a bit like wearing a grey business suit with a dazzling silk liner that no one else knows is there.
The Jag’s seats are deeper and more enveloping compared with the flatter Audi sculpting but both offer good comfort and support for long cruises or livelier duties.
Hop into the back row and both cars offer a genuinely comfortable space for two-plus-one thanks to cushion design that favours the outboard occupants. Surprisingly, the Jaguar has no perceptible space advantage over the SQ5 despite its larger exterior dimensions. Passengers in the Audi’s second row will appreciate the more elevated position and better forward view, although a more upright seating position might not be as comfortable for some as the Jaguar’s more reclined angle.
Technologically speaking, the pair is on a fairly even pegging too. Both have fully digital instrument clusters, three-zone climate control, electric front seat adjustment, and huge central touchscreens, although the Audi’s graphics are more vibrant compared with the Jaguar’s much sharper but more monochrome and understated design.
It’s also worth pointing out that equipment differences extend to a head-up display provided as standard in the Audi, but you’ll have to pay for as part of the $2480 Tech pack to get the same feature in the F-Pace. And the generous panoramic roofs fitted to each car are a luxurious addition that Audi includes as standard while Jaguar asks an extra $4420.
Both cars compete on price before you tuck into the options but you’ll need to do a fair bit of that to spec the Jaguar at a similar level as the Audi. Subsequently, the as tested price for this SQ5 is $110,210, while the F-Pace you see here costs a hefty $123,459 (see specs for option details).
But what we’re here in the Victorian high country is to discover what this pair of luxo SUVs is like when you give them some stick.
Ironically, if the effect of the electric supercharger, turbo and hybrid systems is a success, it should be imperceptible and impossible to pick the point at which a particular system is playing its part. The Jaguar’s electric supercharger gives its position away with a noticeable whistle as soon as the throttle is stabbed and a sound not unlike a charging camera flash. But it doesn’t accompany a wave of instant torque. Instead, the effect is milder and, despite its additional hardware, the straight six still likes to be revved. There’s useful torque to be found low in the rev range but it’s far from instantaneous and the inherent characteristics of a petrol straight six remain. It’s also delightfully smooth and, once all the various systems are doing their bit, power delivery is strong and abundant.
The soundtrack is spot on with a classic in-line six bark, but there could certainly be more of it and the exhaust would benefit from a louder, more overtly sporting mode.
Audi’s interpretation of turbocharger and electric compressor-fed six-cylinder technology is quite different and provides the near-instant torque with almost electric-motor response. Of course, as a diesel it doesn’t rev like the Jag’s Ingenium unit, but the way the V6 produces power and torque makes the Audi feel quicker and easier to go fast.
It’s also delightfully smooth and doesn’t mind being wrung out to the substantially lower redline, but the massive amount of grunt produced with so little effort means the needle never really needs to be pushed close to anything red. Unfortunately, the incredibly versatile engine lets itself down when it comes to its aural character. With a turbocharger, diesel cat and particulate filter all located in the path of exhaust gasses, the SQ5 has no natural tailpipe noise. To try and create some aural attitude, Audi installed what it describes as an ‘actuator’ in the exhaust system but the result is not great. The device is, in fact, a speaker which literally plays a synthetic engine sound according to the actual revs of the V6. Pumping noise into the cabin via the stereo speakers is not a new thing but rigging one on the outside of the car is a new level of disingenuous. It wouldn’t be so bad if it produced a convincing sound but the noise is, at best, weird, at worst a little reminiscent of Grand Theft Auto SFX circa 2005.
Yet you can forgive the Audi for its sheer ability to get you somewhere in a hurry. Our test car was fitted with the $2990 optional Quattro Sport differential which allows the SQ5 to be pushed right up to the limits of its excellent grip levels. Wicking through damp corners sets the SQ5 up for light understeer, but if you can overcome the temptation to back off and actually apply some throttle, the front wheels will pull the nose back into line. The confidence allows the driver to lean hard on the Audi’s athleticism.
When the road dries out though, the cornering speed enabled by the Pirelli P Zeroes and the special diff sharing power at the limit enables some seriously dizzying cornering G.
So a decisive advantage over the Jag? Not necessarily. Chuck the F-Pace at a few corners and it also has surprising tricks up its sleeve. Steering, for a start, is sublime and makes the Audi’s feel numb by comparison. And, with a rear-drive bias, the Jaguar has a more involving tendency to transfer weigh to the rear in fast corners. It too will ask for front tyre assistance when things get slippery but, while the Audi feels like it is maximizing grip at all costs, the Jaguar sacrifices a little pace in the name of greater driver involvement.
As a result I found myself jumping on the brake a lot less in the Audi, but the Jaguar is the car that makes you feel more heroic if you can muster it through the twisty stuff.
Practically speaking, the Audi is the clear choice with no space penalty despite its smaller size, its towing ability, better fuel economy and it’ll still cut a fast path over the Black Spur in virtually any weather.
However, the Jaguar plays to your emotions with its more enthusiast focus on rear-drive feel, lovely steering, and those looks are hard to resist.
But back to the oily bits under the bonnet. The Jag straight-six is the more rewarding of the engines to rev out and is the power and noise champ, but the Audi’s V6 has the low-down torque advantage and offers the most useable and instant performance. What I’m getting at is neither of these advanced engines rewrites the internal-combustion rule book: both demonstrate typical characteristics of the fuel types. Instead they advance the cause of pistons and cylinders as a means of powering vehicles and allow petrol and diesel to feature in the Audi and Jaguar brochures for a few more years yet.
Ultimately, though, this duo of impressive engines represents the final bright embers of internal combustion, and while their clever forced induction systems fan the glow with real incandescence for now, they too will eventually die out. Electric is the future and the infiltration has already started from within the Audi and Jaguar line-ups with the E-tron and I-Pace. But until zero-emissions drivetrains proliferate completely, mighty engines like these silken sixes are allowing petrol and diesel to be celebrated before they go out with a final mighty bang.
Ultimately, though, this duo of impressive engines represents the final bright embers of internal combustion.
TDI or TFSI?
The SQ5 represents the performance pinnacle of the Q5 range and its availability exclusively as a diesel for the first generation raised a few eyebrows. Perhaps more perplexingly, Audi changed tack for the second generation, introducing only the petrol V6 turbo to Australia even though both diesel and petrol were produced. Now it has backflipped again, reverting back to a diesel. While the petrol version channelled a little of the company’s hot hatch character, the diesel SQ5 invokes more of the bigger SQ7’s spirit.
1. HIDE & STREAK
Diamond quilted leather looks sophisticated, and is enhanced by contrasting silver stitching. The effect is classy without verging on ostentatious. A little too much gloss black trim, however, is quickly marred by fingerprints.
2. DIAL STYLE
Audi’s drive mode controller needs updating. Scrolling through the various modes with a push switch is fiddly and slow; a solution similar to Ferrari’s Manettino dial would be faster and more stylish.
3. TOUCH POINT
New 10.1-inch touchscreen delivers high resolution while an ultra-fast processor ensures quick responses. It also syncs to Audi Connect, a SIM-based system that allows other devices to connect and links the car to the Cloud.
1. KEY WHOLE
Both cars have keyless entry and start, naturally, but the Jag goes further with its optional Activity Key. Leave the regular key in the car and it can be locked with a waterproof silicone bracelet worn on the wrist.
2. PRETTY PINS
Common to both models are doorskins that extend all the way down to cover the sills. Hopping out of the car after a little light rallying doesn’t result in muddy trouser legs.
3. SKY’S THE LIMIT
After the sunroof ($4420) the next most pricey option on our test F-Pace is the Technology pack, which consists of a ‘Solar Attenuating Windscreen’, wireless phone charger and head-up display for $2480.
You’ll need to do a bit of option ticking to spec the F-Pace to a similar level as the SQ5
Audi trails Jag here, but on demanding roads it’s actually the other way around, thanks to the SQ5’s huge torque and ability to get it to the ground.
If loads of low-rpm torque, frugal consumption and a long touring range are your priorities, the SQ5’s V6 oiler has you covered.
The Jaguar has no perceptible space advantage over the SQ5 despite its larger exterior dimensions
Petrol six in the F-Pace needs to be worked harder than SQ5’s diesel, but sounds way better, and rear-biased chassis delivers greater involvement.
No charge from Jaguar for the red leather, but sunroof and tech pack alone add nearly $7K. Both pack 3.0-litre six-cylinder engines, but deliver very different driving experiences.
Petrol or diesel? Which translates as the best strategy for powering a two-tonne sports SUV?
AUDI SQ5 TDI $104,210/tested: $110,210*
- Engine V6, dohc, 24v, turbo-diesel + elec SC
- Layout Front engine (north-south) AWD
- Capacity 2967cc
- Max Power 251kW @ 3800-3950rpm
- Max Torque 700Nm @ 1750-3250rpm
- Gearbox 8-speed automatic
- Body steel, 5 doors, 5 seats
- L/W/H/W–B 4682/1893/1635/2824mm
- Track (F/R) 1624/1612mm
- Weight 2010kg
- Fuel diesel/70 litres
- Economy 7.0L/100km (ADR combinbed)
- Front: multi-links, adaptive dampers, coil springs, anti-roll bar
- Rear: multi-links, adaptive dampers, coil springs, anti-roll bar
- Steering electric rack-and-pinion
- Front brakes 375mm ventilated discs
- Rear brakes 300mm ventilated discs
- Tyre size Pirelli P Zero 255/40 R21
- ANCAP rating Five stars
- 0-10km/h 0.33
- 0-20km/h 0.65
- 0-30km/h 1.03
- 0-40km/h 1.43
- 0-50km/h 1.92
- 0-60km/h 2.39
- 0-70km/h 3.07
- 0-80km/h 4.37
- 0-90km/h 4.37
- 0-100km/h 5.19
- 0-110km/h 6.07
- 0-120km/h 7.13
- 0-130km/h 8.30
- 0-140km/h 9.55
- 0-400m 13.51sec @ 164.35km/h
- Verdict 8.0/10 *Includes Audi Sport wheels ($500); Inlays in piano black ($520); black exterior styling package ($1300); quattro sport differential ($2990
JAGUAR F-PACE P400 HSE $110,280/tested $123,459*
- Engine Inline 6cyl, dohc, 24v, turbo + elec SC
- Layout Front engine (north-south) AWD
- Capacity 2995cc
- Max Power 294kW @ 5500-6500rpm
- Max Torque 550Nm @ 2000-5000rpm
- Gearbox 8-speed automatic
- Body steel, 5 doors, 5 seats
- L/W/H/W–B 4747/2071/1664/2874mm
- Track (F/R) 1640/1656mm
- Weight 2028kg
- Fuel petrol/82 litres
- Economy 8.7L/100km (ADR combinbed)
- Front: double A-arms, adaptive dampers, coil spring, anti-roll bar
- Rear: multi-links, adaptive dampers, coil spring, anti-roll bar
- Steering electric rack-and-pinion
- Front 370mm ventilated discs
- Rear 325mm ventilated discs
- Tyres Pirelli P Zero 265/40 R22
- ANCAP rating Five stars
- 0-10km/h 0.39
- 0-20km/h 0.90
- 0-30km/h 1.34
- 0-40km/h 1.85
- 0-50km/h 2.39
- 0-60km/h 2.99
- 0-70km/h 3.60
- 0-80km/h 4.44
- 0-90km/h 5.21
- 0-100km/h 6.00
- 0-110km/h 6.89
- 0-120km/h 7.92
- 0-130km/h 9.01
- 0-140km/h 10.23
- 0-400m 14.08sec @ 164.62km/h
- 80-1200km/h 3.4sec
- 100-0km/h 36.77m
- Verdict 8.0/10 *Includes Panoramic sunroof ($4420); Technology pack (solar attenuating windscreen, wireless device charging, head-up display; $2480); 22-inch wheels ($2290); privacy glass ($950); red brake calipers ($806); leisure activity key ($680); black exterior pack ($640)