2024 Audi Q8 e-tron and SQ8 e-tron review

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2024 Audi Q8  e-tron and SQ8 e-tron review



Overview

 

AUDI Australia has rationalised its Q8 SUV and Sportback range this month as the new Q8 50 SUV e-tron variant joins the freshly launched SQ8 SUV and Sportback in Aussie showrooms.

 

The Q8 50 SUV e-tron will replace the Q8 55 SUV e-tron in the German brand’s growing local battery electric vehicle (BEV) portfolio, leaving the Q8 55 Sportback e-tron to fill the gap between Q8 50 SUV e-tron and SQ8 variants.

 

Pricing for the Q8 range now begins from $140,600 plus on-road costs for the Q8 50 SUV e-tron.

 

The carryover Q8 55 Sportback e-tron is now offered from $154,600 + ORC, while the SQ8 e-tron range is priced from $173,600 + ORC in SUV body style and $180,600 for the flagship SQ8 Sportback e-tron.

 

As has been rolled-out previously in other Q8 variants, the newly arrived trio sports Audi’s new corporate identity with two-dimensional badging, refreshed exterior and interior styling, improved battery and DC charging capacity, and what Audi refers to as an “optimised driving experience”.

 

Virtual mirrors remain optional on the range with as many as 30 per cent of Audi customers ticking the box for the option. The Q8 range is further available with updated Digital Matrix headlights, the LED units now offering 1.3 million micro mirrors per lamp and the ability for each to tilt (adjust) up to 5000 times per second.

 

The Digital Matrix Headlights further offer new functions including an orientation light feature and advanced traffic information display (projection onto the road surface).

 

Aerodynamics are likewise improved, with SUV models now offering a drag coefficient of 0.27Cd and Sportback models 0.24Cd while motor efficiency gains come courtesy of an increase in the number of coils in each stator, up from 12 to 14.

 

Elsewhere, Audi says it has sharpened the steering ratio for its Progressive Steering system, taking the ratio from 15.8:1 to 14.6:1 (when compared with the previous e-tron). The front axle now receives stiffer lateral control arm bushings, while the stability control, integrated brake control, adaptive air suspension and dampers are all recalibrated.

 

The battery fitted in the Q8 range now offers 20 per cent more capacity from the same packaging, thanks to 12 addition stacked prismatic cells (to now total 432).

 

For the Q8 50 SUV e-tron battery capacity (lithium-ion) is listed at 95kW gross (89kW net) with DC charging at 150kW. The WLTP range is listed 411km.

 

By contrast, the Q8 55 Sportback e-tron offers a battery capacity of 114kW, 170kW DC charging and a range of 454km (WLTP), while the SQ8 SUV and Sportback each feature a 114kW battery capacity and 170kW DC charging, with WLTP ranges of 417km and 430km respectively.

 

Charging times fall between 28 and 31 minutes against the 10-80 per cent standard when charged with a DC fast charger. The maximum AC charging rate is listed at 22kW with times there of around five hours.

 

Vital stats see the Q8 50 SUV e-tron offer up 250kW of power and 664Nm or torque to provide a 0-100km/h time of 6.0 seconds.

 

For the Q8 50 SUV e-tron we find standard equipment including 20-inch alloy wheels, adaptive air suspension, front heated seats, leather appointed upholstery, pre-conditioning (climate control), a 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit (digital instrument panel), head-up display, 360-degree camera system, active lane assist, and adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go functionality.

 

For the SQ8 duo we find S body styling, a panoramic glass sunroof, Singleframe projector light, red-painted brake callipers, 22-inch wheels, Matrix LED headlights, dynamic rear indicators, S sport front seats, a 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, Virtual Cockpit plus, a heated sports steering wheel, and included metallic paint.

 

Optionally, the Q8 50 SUV e-tron is available with a Sport Package ($5400) offering 21-inch wheels, Sport front seats, Valcona leather upholstery, black exterior styling package, and LED colour ambient lighting.

 

The SQ8 duo is available optionally with Audi’s Sensory Package ($9600) offering Digital Matrix LED headlights, LED entrance lights, soft close/power latching doors, outboard rear heated seats, fine Nappa leather dashboard upper and lower elements, air quality package, and sunshades for the rear windows.

 

Finally, the 22kW AC charging package adds $6900 to the bill, while the inclusion of Virtual Mirrors is a further $3500.

 

Owners will receive six years complimentary access to public charging via the Chargefox network, six years complimentary scheduled servicing (with 24 month / 30,000km service intervals), and six years complimentary roadside assist with their Q8 or SQ8 purchase.

 

The complimentary installation of a standard home charger is also included.

 

Q8 and SQ8 models are covered by warranty for five years/unlimited kilometres, and the high voltage battery eight years/160,000km.

 

Driving Impressions

 

Audi Australia believes most of its Q8 e-tron range sales will come from the performance SQ8 e-tron variant, and it’s that model we spent the most time with on launch.

 

As mentioned, the SQ8 e-ton uses three electric motors, one on the front axle and two on the rear, to deliver ‘quattro’ all-wheel drive. At full tilt, the trio provides an impressive 370kW of power and 973Nm of torque, or sufficient to accelerate the 2600kg SUV from standstill to 100km/h in just 4.6 seconds.

 

Conversely, the arrangement is not what you’d call efficient, and on test we saw the energy meter level out at a we-were-really-trying 32kWh per 100km (or around four over the claim). It’s to be expected, but when viewed against the Q8 50 e-tron, which managed a result in the lower 20s, is appreciably hungry. Expect a range just shy of 400km in the real world.

 

The SQ8 e-tron does, however, deliver a lot for the power consumed. Afterall, the is an Audi ‘S’ model with some astounding performance attributes. With torque figures approaching four digits it should come as no surprise that the SQ8 e-tron doesn’t muck around. But what does surprise is just how effortlessly it delivers that power to the ground.

 

There’s no scrambling for grip, even when mashing the throttle to the floor. The SQ8 e-tron simply launches itself at the horizon and continues to accelerate. Audi says it’ll do 210km/h before the limiter kicks in, and we believe it.

 

It’s not as manic as some electric vehicles we’ve sampled, in part because of its weight. Instead, the SQ8 e-tron feels well metered and easy to modulate, holding corner speeds with impressive ease before rocketing from each apex with total finesse. In all seriousness, a large SUV should not be this enjoyable, or this polished.

 

We drove the SQ8 e-tron (and the ‘50’) over a mix of winding country back roads of varying ‘quality’ and were impressed by its ability to soak up discrepancies and bumps. Even when challenged with multiple inputs and a change of direction the SQ8 e-tron maintained its poise, riding with a level of comfort (and quiet) that seems almost unreal for a vehicle sporting 22-inch rims.

 

The damping is clever and works quickly to correct the vehicle’s posture enabling a level of precision in the steering that is quite simply brilliant. There is no bump steer and no tugging at the ‘wheel, even when giving the throttle a decent nudge. In a word, it is fluid and provides a level of communication Audi has done well to dial in.

 

The regenerative braking, which is adaptive via steering wheel ‘paddles’, can be used effectively to provide deceleration into corners – or when approaching the ‘lights. The ability to add more of less regen’ as dictated by each situation means you can reserve use of the service brake for harder stops, while at the same time earning back precious energy.

 

That said, the SQ8 e-tron’s sizable rotors and monstrous callipers provide a muscular braking action that suits the red rhombus badge, all delivered with a progressive pedal that feels as natural as any petrol-powered Audi we’ve sampled in the past.

 

Beyond the human-assisted drive, it’s terrific to find an array of electronic assistants that complement the experience. The adaptive cruise control is exceptional, even in stop-start city traffic, while the lane keeping aids and centring adapt well to various scenarios, chiming in only when needed.

 

In a world where ADAS systems are becoming increasingly annoying and uptight, it is refreshing to experience a vehicle whose assistants do just that.

 

If it isn’t already obvious, we really like the SQ8 e-tron. It’s not just a great electric SUV, it’s a great SUV period. Whether tootling around town, cruising the open highway, or getting stuck into a winding mountain road, the vehicle delivers a blend of performance, compliance and competence few in this class could hope to match.

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