In Depth

Audi Q8 2018 review: does it live up to the hype?

New SUV impresses with nimble handling and luxurious interior, but is it as sporty as it looks?

Audi’s new range-topping Q8 has finally arrived, taking the form of a premium SUV that will rival the Range Rover Sport and the BMW X6. 

The new Audi has many of the mechanical underpinnings of the company’s seven-seater Q7 SUV, but its design is closer to a coupe than its more conventional sibling.

The announcement sees the German car giant’s crossover roster expand to six models as the company seeks to capitalise on the ever-growing demand for SUVs, says Autocar

Orders for the new Q8 are open now, so here’s everything you need to know about it: 

Price and release

The Q8 will hit showrooms next month, says Auto Express, with prices starting at around £65,000 for the initial entry-level V6 version. A cheaper model is due to enter the range next year with a probable price tag of £60,000. 

This would put the Q8 in direct competition with the £61,000 Range Rover Sport and the £59,000 BMW X6. 

The Week reviews the Audi Q8
Audi Q8

After months of hype, Audi’s new range-topping Q8 is finally on sale in the UK. We’ve been trialling the SUV to see if it lives up to its billing as the German firm’s most luxurious - and sporty - crossover to date. 

Audi models are known for having more aggressive styling than their competitors, and the Q8 is no exception. The angular lines at the front, mixed with our test model’s yellow metallic paint, makes the newcomer look far more sporty than its seven-seat sibling, the Q7. 

At the back, the pronounced wheel arches emphasise the car’s low roofline, while the body-wide tail light is found only on the company’s most luxurious models. There’s also a small black panel below the rear window, which Audi says is a nod to the Quattro coupe that dominated rallying in the 1980s.

The premium feel continues on the inside. Audi’s dual-screen infotainment system that debuted on the A8 saloon comes as standard on the Q8, as does the company’s sportier S Line trim level. This means drivers get a racing-inspired flat-bottomed steering wheel and a host of driving modes that improve either fuel economy, performance or comfort. 

Most drivers will probably leave the car in comfort mode on the road, but we found the economy setting delivered the most relaxing drive. This is because the setting slows throttle response, which is perfect for motorway cruising.

Handling is one of the Q8’s strongest areas. Although the SUV weighs over two tonnes, the Q8 feels just as nimble and stable as a four-door saloon. The car can feel a little large on country lanes, but it’s otherwise a breeze to drive in all manner of conditions.

Acceleration was far from lacking in our 50 TDI test car, but the turbo V6 diesel engine doesn’t quite have the sporty performance to justify its aggressive styling or responsive steering just yet. 

But Audi plans to launch more powerful engine options in the near future, and it’s expected that a hot SQ8 version will arrive later in the car’s lifecycle. 

Buyers seeking a versatile SUV with sporty looks and a luxurious cabin won’t need to look further than the Q8. But rivals such as the Q7 and Range Rover Sport offer bigger boots and come with lower price tags.

Design
Audi Q8

The Q8 appears to be significantly more compact than the Q7 it’s based on, but the new car has an identical wheelbase to its sibling, according to Autocar. The Q8’s bodywork overhangs, however, are slightly shorter at the front and rear.  

Retaining the Q7’s wheelbase means the new car’s interior space is “nearly identical”, the magazine says, but the Q8 will only be available in a five-seat configuration (the Q7 has a seven-seater layout). 

The Q8’s exterior styling incorporates several design cues from Audi’s recent product launches, including the company’s new grille that “dominates” the front bumper, says Top Gear. Surrounding the grille is a thick silver border similar to the one on the new Q2 compact crossover.

The premium SUV’s rear-end, meanwhile, is noticeably different to other crossovers in the Audi range. That’s because it incorporates a body-wide tail light, which has so far been reserved for the firm’s range-topping saloons.  

Open up the tail gate and buyers will find a sizeable boot, says Motor1. The Q8’s luggage space comes in at 605 litres with the rear seats in place and 1,755 litres with them folded away.  

Interior and tech
Audi Q8

Audi Q8

AUDI AG

Audi totally overhauled the interior layout of its cars following the launch of its A8 saloon last year. The updated cabin design trickled down to the new A7 and A6 saloons, and now it’s available in the Q8. 

The Q8’s hi-tech interior features a dual-screen infotainment system in the centre consoles, says Car magazine. The top panel is used to control in-car music and driving modes, while the lower screen displays the vehicle’s climate settings. 

Behind the steering wheel is Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, which replaces the conventional analogue dials with a digital version. The panel is customisable, too, so drivers can choose for most of the space to be taken up with a satnav screen if they wish.

As expected with a premium German car, the options list is impressively long, and includes a 23-speaker Bang & Olufsen set-up, as well as four different seat styles and leather types, WhatCar? reports. 

Buyers can also choose from 39 “driver assistance” modes that are split into four packages, the site says. One of the packages includes a mode that can manage pedal and steering inputs in traffic, while another has a system that automatically contact emergency services in the event of an accident. 

Engines and performance

Only a single model will be on offer when the Q8 launches next month, says Car magazine, which takes the form of a 3.0-litre V6 diesel badged 50 TDI. This version puts out 282bhp and 443lb-ft of torque, capable of sending the car from 0-62mph in 6.3 seconds.  

Next year Audi will launch two additional models in the range, the magazine says. These include a 228bhp V6 diesel, called the 45 TDI, along with a sportier 333bhp V6 petrol-badged 55 TFSI.  

All the models will have all-wheel drive systems and eight-speed automatic gearboxes, says Top Gear, as well as “mild-hybrid” systems to help improve fuel economy.

Is Audi making an RS version?

It certainly looks like it. Images posted this week by Auto Express show a lower, more aggressive-looking Q8 testing at the 12.9-mile Nurburgring racing circuit in Germany - indicating that a performance version may be on the horizon.

The test mule in the pictures is covered in camouflage, making it tricky to spot styling tweaks, but a pair of large oval exhausts exiting from the rear-bumper can be seen. This feature is synonymous with the company’s RS-badged models. 

According to Motor1, the rumoured RS Q8 is tipped to feature a biturbo 661bhp 4.0-litre V8 hybrid engine derived from the Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid. This engine is also expected to appear in a number of Volkswagen Group products, including a potential hybrid Lamborghini Urus and Porsche Cayenne SUV. 

If the vehicle spied in at the Nurburgring is an RS Q8, says the US automotive site, the car is unlikely to appear until “the end of the decade”. In the meantime, Audi is expected to launch a slightly less powerful SQ8, although a release date has yet to be announced.

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