Audi Q8 Review
Refined, well-poised and with effortless performance - the Audi Q8 is a large SUV that perfectly epitomises the phrase ‘reassuringly expensive’. The Q8 was launched in 2018 as a rival to the likes of the BMW X6, Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe, Range Rover Sport, Porsche Cayenne, and also the slightly cheaper Range Rover Velar. It is, then, rubbing shoulders with some of the very best vfehicles in the luxury SUV class. And despite that fierce competition, the Q8 simply shrugs its shoulders and gets on with doing what it does best - leaving you utterly impressed with minimal fuss. It might not have the exterior styling chutzpah of the Velar, or the driveway presence of the Range Rover Sport, but you’ll struggle to find anything so accomplished. All-wheel-drive and air suspension as standard means the Q8 rides beautifully, with impeccable road-manners and solid handling.
The interior is simple yet also dazzling, with no hard plastics to be found and boasting all the finesse and finish of a premium vehicle, complete with an enormous twin-touchscreen infotainment system and digital cockpit. Meanwhile there’s so much equipment as standard only those with very deep pockets will feel the need to go with a range-topping Vorsprung model. With lease deals for the Q8 beginning at around £600 per month, you can expect a hell of a lot of car for your outlay.
Select's rating score* - 4.0 / 5
An Audi Q8 must be even bigger than the massive, seven-seat Audi Q7, right? Erm, no, actually, so it’s good to avoid confusion on that front from the beginning. The Q8 is based on the Q7 platform, but it’s actually slightly shorter, has a smaller boot, and veers away from the traditional SUV styling of the Q7 by adopting a more rakish sloping, roofline. And the Q8 gets a numerical advantage over the larger Q7 because it’s simply a cut above in terms of refinement and luxury, too.
Where the Q8 wins big is in it’s more aggressive styling. It has a wider and squatter stance than a Q7, has a huge, almost intimidating front grille, and also sits on enormous 21 inch alloys as standard. You can choose 22 inch rims if you want to channel your inner monster truck. And perhaps the most crucial thing to know is that Audi has very recently updated the line up of engines available with the Q8. In previous incarnations owners had a choice of V6s which all came with mild-hybrid technology in a bid to improve efficiencies. Now, however, the Q8 also comes as a plug-in hybrid - the ‘TFSI e quattro’, as Audi calls it. There are two power outputs available, with the base combining a powerful 3.0 litre petrol engine with a 100kW electric motor to produce power of 381 PS. Not only that, but you can expect up to 100 miles to the gallon as well as an electric-only range close to 30 miles. That’s an important introduction - because it means the Q8 can still go to-to-toe with the new ‘P400e PHEV’ version of the Range Rover Sport.
The regular Q8 comes in four different trim levels - starting at S line and working upwards through Black Edition, Edition 1 and Vorsprung. The plug-in Q8 meanwhile comes in either S Line or Competition trim. And the great news for owners is that even base models arrive fully-loaded with equipment. The base Q8 gets HD Matrix LED lights, sport-configured adaptive air suspension, a sophisticated infotainment system with sat nav, privacy glass, 21 inch alloys, cruise control, rear parking camera and a range of driver assistance systems.
Do you really need to look higher up the range with all that as a starting point? If you do crave more poshness, Vorsprung models boast ‘Super Sport’ seats upholstered in Valcona leather as standard, with massaging and ventilation functions, a Bang & Olufsen stereo, and all-wheel steering that both improves handling and reduces your turning circle.
You’ll not want for power or performance with the Q8. Underpinning everything is a lightweight body rich in aluminium and which also provides a high level of stiffness. And yet the Q8 is far from a hooligan. It might be quick, but it doesn’t feel it inside the cabin, where everything remains quiet and serene despite the scenery rushing past your window.
The 3.0 litre diesel V6 provides 286 PS and a 0-62mph time of 6.3 seconds, while the petrol V6 is more rapid, propelling you from 0-62mph in just 5.6 seconds thanks to 340 PS of power. Of course, it’s the plug-in hybrid you really want - if your budget will allow for it. Lease prices begin at around £880 per month.
The S Line plug-in has 381 PS and will cover the first 62mph in just 5.8 seconds. Meanwhile the pricier ‘Competition’ plug-n sees a power hike to 462 PS and a 0-62mph time of 5.4 seconds - which is almost as quick as a Porsche Cayenne S. Meanwhile all that power is kept in check by the adaptive air suspension, which can be adjusted to four modes and which can vary the ride height of the body by up to 90 mm.
Neither the petrol or diesel V6 is particularly frugal - and that’s perhaps surprising given the mild-hybrid tech bolted to it. The diesel manages to return around 33 miles to the gallon while emitting CO2 of 222g/km. The petrol ‘55 TFSI’ is thirstier, returning 26.4 mpg, and also proving more polluting with 243g/km of CO2. And, once more, if you want that winning mix of decent pace and few trips to the fuel pumps, it’s the plug-in hybrid that will appeal.
The lesser-powered ‘e’ can return up to 100mpg with CO2 emissions of as little as 65 g/km, while the Q8 Competition 60 TFSI e quattro sacrifices little in return for its extra power and pace, combining scope for up to 97mpg with minimum CO2 output of 66g/km. Find a fast charger and an empty battery can be fully charged in around two-and-a-half hours
Audi says that ‘simplicity is the new premium’ when it comes to the interior design of the Q8. And while it might not have the pizazz of a Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe, it feels supremely well put together and certainly oozes class. You get a sense that it’s deliberately clean and unfussy..
As standard there’s ambient lighting, heated front seats, two zone climate control and a twin screen infotainment system - the top being 10.1” and the lower measuring 8.6”. There are no traditional dials and buttons to control things like the air con, which might be a spanner in the works for some, but you get haptic feedback through the touchscreens and the display is crystal clear. Meanwhile Vorsprung models - which you can lease from around £897 per month - take things up a notch… and then some. The outer rear seats in the rear are not only heated, they’re reclinable, while you also get a panoramic glass sunroof and power door closure.
As mentioned previously, the Q8 isn’t as large as the cavernous Q7 and sacrifices a little in terms of boot space. But with 605 litres of room for luggage, it’s practical enough - and up there with the best in class. The BMW X6, for example, has a 580 litre boot while the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe has around 600 litres. There’s also limo-like amounts of room in the rear for passengers and the sloping roof doesn’t put too much of a dent in headroom. Even six footers can relax in comfort.
A power operated tailgate comes as standard. And there’s a host of 12 volt sockets and USB ports in the cabin and in the boot, which should be enough to keep the iPads and mobile phones charged. Meanwhile an in-car espresso making machine is an extra £210.
The Q8 went through the Euro NCAP safety test last year - and scored the full five stars. And not only was it strong in the crash tests, the standard safety equipment was also praised. Audi’s ‘Pre Sense Front’ system monitors the traffic in front of the vehicle for potential collision hazards and sounds warnings before eventually automatically deploying the brakes. Lane departure warning also comes as standard.
While Euro NCAP described how the standard-fit autonomous emergency braking (AEB) system, ‘performed well in tests of its functionality against other vehicles at the low speeds, typical of city driving, at which many whiplash injuries occur, with collisions avoided in almost all test scenarios.’ Various other packs and bundles are available to improve safety further. The ‘Tour’ pack costs an extra two grand - unless you got a Vorsprung model where it already comes equipped - but is extensive, coming with radar-driven adaptive cruise assist, camera-based traffic sign recognition, turn assist and a collision avoidance assistant - which provides additional steering torque to correct your input if you’re about to cock it up
The paint range for the Audi Q8 offers twelve colours, including the latest shades of ‘dragon orange’ and ‘galaxy blue’. There’s just one colour that attracts no extra cost - black - with all the other options costing an additional £750. Meanwhile there are a few pricey bundles to uprate your base S Line model.
The ‘Comfort and Sound’ pack is tempting, even at £2,295. It features the B&O sound system, LED lighting throughout the interior, a clever 360° camera with top-down view, as well as tech that’ll find a space and park your car for you. In more practical terms, aluminium roof rails are an extra £400.
The Q8 isn’t short of rivals and you’re sure to have other cars on your shortlist. The BMW X6 is a very close competitor to the Q8. The BMW might be down on practicality compared with the Audi, particularly when it comes to space in the back, but it’s just as good-looking and there’s a sporting range of high performance engines. As yet, though, there’s no plug-in hybrid X6.
The Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe is also well and truly in the Q8 ball park, and they’re priced almost identically, too. As with the Q8, there’s a GLE Coupe plug-in hybrid with a better all-electric range of up to 66 miles. The impressive interior of the GLE is much more eager to put a smile on your face, too.
And while the Range Rover Sport is more expensive than a Q8 to buy outright, lease deals are in a similar bracket - again beginning at around £570 per month. As with the Q8 and the GLE Coupe, a plug-in hybrid is a new and welcome addition to the Range Rover line-up. And not only is the Sport more adept off road, it’s also highly practical, with acres of legroom for all and a massive 780 litre boot.
When Audi describes the Q8 it talks about ‘luxury on a grand scale’ and how drivers will ‘cruise on air suspension in the upscale surroundings’ of one of the best luxury SUVs out there. And that’s pretty much spot on. It’s not a car for dramatics, and if you want a truly thrilling, engaging ride, you might want to look elsewhere.
But what the Q8 excels at is in wafting you along in utmost comfort. Despite being capable of some seriously brisk performance, it won’t feel rushed inside that quiet cabin. The plug-in hybrid, if you can afford it, is the one to plump for, meaning you can enjoy all that well-appointed opulence while keeping a clean conscience about your contribution to the environment. And if space, practicality and room for the kids is the priority, don’t be afraid to look at the seven-seat Q7 instead.
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*Score based on Select’s unique meta score analysis, taking into account the UK’s top five leading independent car website reviews of the Audi Q8
**Correct as of 22/01/2021. Based on 9 months initial payment, 5,000 miles over a 48 month lease. Initial payment equivalent to 9 monthly payments or £5,421.49 Ts and Cs apply. Credit is subject to status.