Performance SUV with 435hp biturbo V8 diesel power
If you’re familiar with Audi nomenclature, you’ll know that the Q8 is the sporty-looking fastback version of the big Q7 SUV, and that the letter ‘S’ before a model name means that it’s the high-performance version. Therefore the SQ8 is the flagship of the Q range; stylish, fast and packed with tech.
Unlike the Q7, which has seven seats, the SQ8 only has five, but it’s still a big, capacious SUV that will make up to five passengers very comfortable indeed. Outside, the octagonal Singleframe grille is surrounded by a large matt silver frame and features six vertical silver bars, while the sporty profile features a sloping roofline, angled rear tailgate and distinctive quattro ‘blisters’ above the wheel arches. 21” wheels come as standard though you can upgrade to 22”. Two trim levels are available, the SQ8 and SQ8 Vorsprung.
The performance flagship of the Q range is powered by a 4.0 biturbo diesel, as Audi strongly believes in its clean diesel technology. The SQ8’s engine also features a 48V mild hybrid system which can recuperate energy under braking and allow the SQ8 to cruise, engine off, for up to 40 seconds at a time. Maximum power is 435 metric hp and torque is a titanic 900Nm, giving 0-62mph acceleration in 4.8 seconds. Power reaches the road via an eight-speed Tiptronic box and quattro permanent all-wheel drive. Adaptive air suspension sport is standard, while the SQ8 Vorsprung specification adds four-wheel steering and quattro Sport differential.
For 2020 Audi has dropped the MMI rotary controller in favour of touchscreens with haptic feedback. The SQ8 has three screens; the Audi Virtual Cockpit conveys all the information the driver is likely to need, though a head-up display is optional. The centre console has two stacked screens; the upper one has media, navigation and CarPlay, while the bottom one features climate settings or the input keyboard. Data transfer is via the LTE Advanced mobile communication standard and integrates navigation, Wi-Fi hotspot and Audi connect services. Navigation plus can also record the driver’s preferences based on previous journeys and make intelligent route suggestions. The Vorsprung model adds front seat ventilation and massage, a Bang & Olufsen audio system and panoramic sunroof.
The SQ8 comes with Audi pre-sense front, which monitors traffic in front of the vehicle for potential collision hazards. Other safety features include parking system plus and lane departure warning. The City Assist pack includes side assist, pre-sense rear, cross traffic assist (front and rear) and will stop you from opening the door when stationary if a vehicle is approaching too closely. The Tour pack adds adaptive cruise assist, traffic sign recognition, collision avoidance and self-steering lane departure warning with emergency assist. Both Tour and City packs are standard with the Vorsprung trim.
Verdict: Audi’s top of the range coupé SUV offers almost as much interior space as the closely related Q7 but trades the third row of seats for a sporty fastback profile. The mild hybrid diesel V8 gives effortless power, as well as impressive fuel economy for a big SUV. The interior has all the advanced tech and sensorial delight that a flagship Audi can offer. Choose the Vorsprung and there’s literally nothing to add.
The Q8 is available in different versions, known as trim levels. These allow you to choose a version that reflects your preferred styling, driving experience and equipment level. Standard equipment and the choice of options both vary by trim.