What’s in the garage?
The Q8 is Audi’s take on the ‘sporty’ SUV. Yet, the four-ringed example isn’t form over function given its Q7-based origins. It remains practical while adding a bit of design flair. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but there’s no doubting the Q8 cuts a striking silhouette. Power comes from a 3.0-litre V6 turbo petrol with 250kW and 500Nm. The 55 TFSI is currently the only model on offer until the sportier, diesel-powered SQ8 lobs Down Under.
The base price is $128,900, but our test car is fitted with $9950 in options to bring the total to $138,850. The options include metallic paint ($2300), Audi exclusive black exterior styling package ($1850), interior inlays in Oak $400, electric steering column adjustment ($900) and the Dynamic steering package ($4500).
What we reckon
Power and performance:
The Q8 is surprisingly fast… for a 2095kg SUV. Audi quotes 0-100km/h in 5.9 seconds, however, we recorded a time of 5.7sec. It’s a tractable engine with a linear power delivery. There’s ample grunt for overtaking and the boosted 3.0-litre remains hushed at cruising speeds.
It can feel a little strained when you call for swift acceleration, but it ultimately does the numbers against the stopwatch and can be easily motivated in overtaking situations. The eight-speed ZF auto helps the process by being smooth and intuitive, although there’s little need to use the steering wheel-mounted paddles. Traction is never an issue as the Q8 features quattro permanent all-wheel drive with a self-locking differential.
Combined fuel economy is 9.2L/100km, which is some way off the diesel-powered Q7, but commendable for a heavy, petrol-powered SUV. An intuitive start/stop system aids consumption.
Ride and handling:
Dynamically, the Q8 is impressive and it deals with its dimensions and mass with aplomb. The ride quality is firm, but far from uncomfortable. The Q8’s standard adaptive dampers do a good job of controlling large undulations, but the big wheels and tight suspension tune can’t completely quell all road imperfections. Comfort mode proves the better option in most conditions and it results in only a slight decrease in body control.
Fitted with the optional Dynamic steering ($4500), the package includes a variable-ratio rack up front, while also adding turn to the rear axle. At lower speeds the turning circle is reduced by approximately 1.1m, while greater stability is offered as the velocity increases. The net result is an SUV with better turn, one that feels demonstrably smaller and more agile than its size would suggest. The Q8 handles changes of direction well and feels agile.
Interior and Comfort:
Screens – lots of screens. The Q8 essentially takes most of the A8 cabin and places it in the SUV body. The design is minimalist and cohesive with few discernible style elements. Build quality is palpable, but there’s a slight lack of visual wow factor given the almost $140K ask. Ergonomics are sound, but some might find the tech overload daunting at first.
Audi’s 12.3-inch virtual cockpit remains a highlight and it’s now accompanied by two touchscreens. Knobs and controls are largely a thing of the past in this cabin. Above sits a large 10.1-inch display for the MMI infotainment system (with support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), while the lower 8.6-inch screen handles things like climate control. Both utilise acoustic and haptic feedback – so you need a little more force than a normal touch screen and the process can take your eyes off the road.
Interior space is abundant despite the exterior design. In particular, rear headroom is generous for all heights, with leg and toe room equally spacious. With all seats in place the boot space is 605 litres, but stow the rear pews and the cargo capacity jumps to 1755 litres. Overall, NVH levels are well suppressed with only slight tyre roar coming from the Continental SportContact 6 hoops wrapping 21-inch wheels.
If you’re in the market for an Audi SUV that can swallow the family in comfort while still retaining fuel economy, then the sub-$100K Q7 is going to be a better bet. However, if you want to make a statement, the Q8 has presence in spades. Plus, if you only need five seats, it’s practical and spacious. The added bonus is that the 55 TFSI provides ample punch and the full-bodied, swoopy SUV is dynamically adept.
AUDI Q8 55 TFSI SPECS
Model: Audi Q8 55 TFSI
Engine: 2995cc V6, dohc, 24v
Max power: 250kW @ 5000-6400rpm
Max torque: 500Nm @ 1370-4500rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
0-100km/h: 5.7sec (tested)
Economy: 9.2L/100km (claimed)
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