Five months on from the unveiling of the facelifted second-generation Q5, Audi has pulled the covers off the refreshed mid-range performance variant, the SQ5. Available only in TDI turbodiesel form in Europe, it pairs renewed looks with an updated engine, although there aren’t any gains in terms of output.

In fact, the headline figures from the 3.0 litre V6 are ever so slightly lower than before – 341 PS (down from 347 PS) and 700 Nm of torque. The difference is that maximum torque is now made over a much wider rev band than before, from 1,750 to 3,250 rpm, although the 5.1 seconds the car takes to get from zero to 100 km/h is identical to the outgoing model.

To achieve its more useable performance, the six-pot has received some significant upgrades, most notably the new forged steel pistons that replace the old aluminium ones. These reduce heat losses without incurring a weight penalty, and the stepped design makes for faster and more efficient combustion. The injectors also now come with piezo sensors that monitor the closing of the needles and are thus more precise.

Elsewhere, the previous bumper-mounted air-to-air intercooler has been switched to a water-to-air unit in between the V of the engine, which cools more effectively, has shorter intake air paths to build boost pressure quicker, and can even heat up the intake air for quicker engine warmup after a cold start. Lastly, the turbocharger compressor wheel is smaller and lighter to reduce lag.

The exhaust system has also been revamped, with the manifold getting some added insulation to enable gases to reach the optimum temperature more quickly from cold. There are also twin selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems – one just after the manifold, the other further back – to cover different operating situations and exhaust gas temperature windows, enabling the car to meet more stringent Euro 6d ISC-FCM AP emissions standards. The exhaust bypass valve has been carried over, enhancing the engine note.

As before, the SQ5 TDI comes with a 48-volt mild hybrid system that extends the engine’s start/stop operation and is claimed to reduce fuel consumption by up to 0.7 litres per 100 km. The electric compressor, which helps drive the turbocharger at lower revs, has also been retained but operates more frequently and across a broader engine map, giving the car greater response.

The eight-speed automatic gearbox and quattro all-wheel-drive system are unchanged, the latter delivering a 40:60 front-to-rear torque split and being capable of sending up to 70% to the front and 85% to the rear. As standard, the brake-operated torque vectoring helps the car rotate when going into a corner, and you can enhance this effect by specifying the optional rear limited-slip sport differential.

Fitted as standard is the S sport suspension with adaptive dampers, a 30 mm lower ride height and a five-link set-up at the front and rear. Variable-ratio dynamic steering and adaptive air suspension are available as options, the latter adds an allroad drive mode that adjusts the ride height in five levels depending on the driving condition. Standard 20-inch alloy wheels and optional 21-inch rollers hide six-piston front brake callipers clamping discs that measure some 375 mm across.

As with the standard Q5, the SQ5 gets a fairly comprehensive makeover, dominated by a wider, flatter Singleframe grille that is no longer linked to the headlights. Speaking of which, the lamps feature LED technology as standard and segmented daytime running lights, with matrix LEDs and sequential indicators optional. At the back, you’ll find available OLED taillights in different designs, again with sequential indcators.

Unique to the SQ5, the honeycomb grille mesh complements the more aggressive S line front bumper with vertical aluminium fins for the fake corner air intakes. The side skirts are also deeper, while the rear bumper carries a large diffuser, a aluminium strip and quad round tailpipes. Customers can choose from nine different paint finishes, plus the black styling package that you see here.

Inside, the SQ5 comes with either a black or grey interior with S-badged power-adjustable sports seats. These can be upholstered in either faux and rear leather, leather and Dinamica microfibre, or Nappa leather, with optional massage and ventilation functions. Also fitted are S-badged illuminated side sill scuff scuff plates, aluminium interior trim (carbon fibre items optional) and a stainless steel load sill protector.

As with the standard facelifted Q5, the biggest difference on the inside is the new MMI infotainment system, replete with a 10.3-inch touchscreen that relieves the need for a rotary controller on the centre console. It comes with a 12.3-inch virtual cockpit instrument cluster, Qi wireless charging and Car-to-X communication. A head-up display and a Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system are offered as options.