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New 2023 Audi Q5 spotted in high performance SQ5 guise

Audi’s updated combustion-powered midsize SUV range will be topped by the SQ5

As the next generation Audi Q5 is getting closer to its forthcoming reveal, new images of the top-spec SQ5 testing on the Nürburgring have given us our best look yet at the popular premium SUV. Expected to launch late this year, the Q5 will rival Mercedes’ new GLC and BMW’s forthcoming all-new X3 in the popular segment. 

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Front and centre of the changes will be the Q5’s styling, interior design and tech, the car adopting a new generation design language penned under the influence of Audi design chief Marc Lichte. As seen in these new spy images, the new Q5 takes a much more assertive approach by introducing oversized haunches, large air intakes and slim LED lighting. The nose of this SQ5 prototype is particularly telling, with large openings below and to each side of Audi’s usual large central grille feeding air to the powertrain.

The new LED headlights are expected to integrate Audi’s latest Digital Light technology, as well as yet another new generation of Audi’s daytime running light signature – something Audi pioneered on the original A5 Coupe, which has since been adopted right across the motoring world. 

As we navigate to the rear, the Q5’s silhouette is marginally more streamlined than the existing model’s, with a more extreme angle on the rear screen and a 3D effect for the rear light bar. The lower bumper also reveals a tell-tale Audi ‘S’ design element in the quad exhaust outlets.

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The cabin will be totally revised, with large new digital interfaces and a totally new dashboard architecture. It will introduce a new era of Audi interior design that will also be seen in the new A5 Sportback and Avant models, aligning more closely with the Audi electric range.

New Audi Q5 engines

Speaking of which, as the new Q5 will join the forthcoming all-electric Q6 e-tron in the range, there will not be an all-electric powertrain option, the Q5 instead focusing on hybridised combustion engines. Audi technical boss Oliver Hoffman has already outlined the technical basis of the next-generation A5 Avant to us – a closely related model that’s also based on the updated MLB-EVO architecture. He explained that the new-generation combustion engines have been designed from the outset to synchronise more seamlessly with the various hybrid options that will be offered.

Fundamental to the platform’s new powertrain family will be an updated version of the Volkswagen Group’s well-known EA888 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, now complemented with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system and revised turbo. The 48-volt tech expands the car’s engine-off coasting and electric-boost capabilities from fleeting moments to being a key part of the driving experience, improving performance and fuel economy. 

The same technology is also expected to be applied to the Q5’s diesel engine options, which despite shrinking popularity across the general market remains popular for SUV models like the Q5 and SQ5. A refreshed and hybridised 2.0 TDI will be offered alongside the 3-litre V6 diesel engine in the SQ5 pictured here. 

Finally, Audi will also offer a wider range of plug-in hybrid options, pairing the 2-litre petrol engine with a lithium ion battery pack and more substantial electric motor. Audi currently offers two PHEV options on the existing Q5, a pairing that will almost certainly be found in the new model too. 

Now read our full review of the Audi Q5...

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Senior staff writer

Senior staff writer at Auto Express, Jordan joined the team after six years at evo magazine where he specialised in news and reviews of cars at the high performance end of the car market. 

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