Confusing: the updated Q8 exists next to the electric Q8 Etron.
Audi The Audi Q8 is getting an update, but now it has a namesake with the Q8 E-tron.
The Audi Q8 is getting an update after more than 5 years. But now it suddenly has a namesake in the form of the Audi Q8 E-tron. We drove the thickest version so far in the form of the SQ8 to see which Q8 bears its name best.
The Audi Q8 isn’t that old yet, right?
Time passes faster than you think. When the curtain was pulled off the Audi Q8 in the spring of 2018, it was accompanied by the striking announcement that this would from now on be Audi’s flagship. Not the luxurious A8, but this dynamic SUV became the leader of the troops. As a less well-behaved variant of the Q7, the car had to compete against successes such as the BMW X6. It turned out to be a bull’s eye. Not only did the Q8 have a less polarizing design than the SUV coupes of the competition, but Audi has mastered the SUV life very well. The brand’s core values such as luxury, gadgets and good handling without extreme sportiness are actually better reflected in the SUVs than in the classic low cars. With the Q8 as the pinnacle in which everything comes together.
There was something strange about the Audi SQ8, right?
Something that wasn’t strange at the time, but is now: the SQ8 story started with… diesel! Yes, we can hardly imagine it anymore, but big diesels were still hot back then. The V8 TDI with 900 Nm ultimately matched the Q8 well and we also liked its later petrol brother, but it suited the extreme RS Q8 that came later.
But the D-word is now passé and so the new SQ8 only has a V8 biturbo on petrol. Just like for the facelift, it produces 507 hp, certainly sufficient for this car. In the Netherlands it will be the only version without a plug for the time being. Countries around us also have the well-known smaller engines and even some diesels, but in the Netherlands Audi limits itself, apart from the SQ8, to plug-in hybrids. These will have more electric power and a greater range than before the facelift, but the details of those models will only be known later.
But wait, wasn’t a new Audi Q8 unveiled earlier this year?
Yes. The Audi Q8 e-tron. That is the facelifted version of the Audi E-tron, the fully electric SUV that was launched 4 years ago. Its successor is logically also fully electric and renamed Q8 Etron. But this EV has nothing to do with the Audi Q8 with a gas tank that we drive today. Unlike, for example, the BMW X3 and iX3, which have the same basis, the two Audis of the same name have nothing to do with each other. It concerns a different platform with a different carriage with different outside and inside dimensions. Now Audi plans to give all future electric models an even number (such as Audi A4) and the petrol versions an odd number (such as Audi A5). However, the existing models will have to wait a while, resulting in this confusing Q8 cacophony. So ask carefully if your neighbor says he bought a Q8, because one Q8 is now the same as the other is not.
And what’s new about this Audi Q8?
The renewal of the car is mainly limited to the visual part. The lines on the grille and at the rear have been drawn even wider to give the car a more aggressive appearance. The Audi has also received the latest lighting technology from the manufacturer. If desired, the Q8 now has Matrix LED laser light, which allows you to always drive with the high beam on. The car keeps the rays away from other road users while you can see extremely well in dark areas. An extra trick has been added at the rear where the car turns on extra brake lights if it detects that someone is quickly coming from behind while you are already standing still. This way your presence is extra emphasized. Super! On the inside, the interior looks familiar, although the car did have new interior trims with aluminum and carbon. This was partly inspired by the cockpit of the RS Q8. A successor to the über-Q8 will of course also be available, even though Audi has not yet officially confirmed this. Fortunately, you are not doing yourself a disservice with the SQ8.
Sounds nice, but does he drive?
The Audi SQ8 is a fabulous all-rounder with excellent handling. Be sure to check all optional driver packs on the options list, so that you have access to active stabilizers and a sports differential, which, together with the air suspension, makes the Audi’s bandwidth very wide. On bad roads in the southern hemisphere, the difference between comfort and dynamic mode turned out to be bizarrely large. There are also all- and off-road modes where the Q8 rises further above the asphalt thanks to the air suspension. In the sportiest mode it is still no Porsche Cayenne or BMW X6 when it comes to pure playfulness and involvement, but the handling is fantastic and the way in which the carriage does not lean is impressive. Meanwhile, the remarkably thick windows keep all wind noise out. Don’t expect floating comfort like in large Mercedes, Audi doesn’t do that. The large 23-inch wheels don’t help either, depending on your needs you could consider going one wheel size smaller for extra comfort.
The V8 still satisfies in all areas. It is emotionally unchanged, just like the eight-speed automatic transmission, although there have been the necessary invisible adjustments to continue to comply with all regulations regarding emissions. The engine pulls nicely, responds strongly when necessary and also sounds nice. The distance with an RS Q8 (which gets 100 hp more) is just as noticeable, that car is much more aggressive, much faster and has such adjustments to the chassis and steering that it is much more of a throw-and-throw cannon than this SQ8 , which is more like the thickest ‘normal’ Q8 with some optical adjustments.
But should I wait for the RS Q8? And what does it cost?
Which one you should get is not so much a matter of your wallet, because if you shop in this class, the percentage difference of 30,000 euros can also be added. No, it’s more about whether you are waiting for the extra aggression and capacity of the RS Q8, not to mention the appearance and image of the car. For some it is the USP, for others it is logically a step too far and then this SQ8 is the ideal car. Prices are not yet known, but before the facelift the SQ8 cost 193,000 euros and the RS Q8 223,000 euros. It won’t get any cheaper now. Ordinary mortals will have to wait a while for the PHEVs, which will probably become just under a ton cheaper than their big petrol brothers. In the head-to-head battle with the electric Q8, the EV scores good points there. Because there is also an SQ8 with 500 electric hp of the fully electric Audi Q8 e-tron. Price? Less than 100,000 euros. You will miss a V8, but it will save a staggering amount of money.