Car reviews - Audi - Q8 - e-tron
Audi’s e-tron large all-electric SUV has been rebranded, now slotting into the Q8 range
19 Oct 2023
AUDI wants to make things easier for customers, repositioning the existing e-tron SUV and Sportback models to slot under the Q8 range, alongside the plethora of versions in that model line.
The move means the Q8 model (even if this one isn’t a ‘real’ Q8) is now available with multiple petrol variants including SQ8 and RS Q8 performance models, a diesel version, and plug-in hybrid, too.
Add to that the fact that Audi has confirmed it will soon offer a couple of additional Q8 e-tron variants – the ‘50’ base model, and the performance-focused SQ8 e-tron – and you’d be led to believe there’s an endless number of customers shopping for a $130,000 to $250,000 large SUV.
Of course, that’s not the case, and the models that usher in the e-tron variant to the Q8 line are ‘55’ versions, meaning they have a high level of performance while not quite reaching ‘S’ levels. And if you know anything about Audi and the naming convention of the brand, the higher the number, the more luxurious, large and expensive the model.
The Q8 e-tron 55 quattro SUV model starts at $153,900 plus on-road costs, while the Sportback model – which Audi says has been the more popular body-style to this point, accounting for 60 per cent of sales – costs $12,000 more, at $165,900 (+ORC).
There is also the handsomely specified Q8 e-tron 55 quattro Launch Edition, which is also $165,900 (+ORC) and available in the more conventional SUV body-style, for a limited time.
The latter scores the blacked-out exterior S line treatment, including a new black ‘mask’ around the grille, black 21-inch wheels, black leather interior trim and headlining, and plenty of other standard equipment shared with the other versions.
They include full LED exterior lighting including dynamic rear indicators, adaptive air suspension, new laser-etched B-pillar model designation, electric tailgate, a 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit digital instrument display, a head-up display, a 10.1-inch touchscreen media system with sat nav, wired/wireless Apple CarPlay, wired Android Auto, Audi connected services, leather seat trim, electric front seat adjustment, a 10-speaker stereo system and more.
This dual-motor electric SUV has a huge 300kW of power and 664Nm of torque, which is enough to propel it from 0-100km/h in 5.6 seconds in Boost mode. That is plenty quick for a vehicle that weighs 2520kg unladen.
Indeed, the weight of the Q8 e-tron is a consideration, as this has a new larger-capacity battery that is packaged into the same space as before, meaning it has moved from 95kWh capacity 114kWh. The battery make-up has changed, too – it is now a NCA (nickel metal-hydride cobalt aluminium) design, where it was previously NCM622.
What is probably going to be most surprising is that the range for such a huge battery pack is just 454km on the WLTP standard. That is, according to Audi, because the figure represents the worst-case scenario in terms of specification (i.e., a model with 22-inch wheels, a sunroof, and other high-spec inclusions and options).
Take that as you will, on this test drive from Melbourne airport out to Trentham, then onto Bendigo and back, the indicated efficiency did not quite match the high WLTP claim of 25.6kWh/100km.
We saw 27.1kWh/100km on average, though higher-speed country road driving and freeway commuting is hardly where EVs like this do their most efficient work, as there is not much call on the regenerative braking to do its job.
Recharging is by a Type 2 CCS combination plug, with dual AC charging ports in the front three-quarter panels that allow up to 7.2kW AC charging as standard, but there is an optional 22kW AC upgrade if you prefer faster at-home charging speeds, though you will need three-phase at home to achieve that speed.
DC charging maxes out at 170kW for this 400-volt architecture model, and Audi claims that fast-charging should see a 10-80 per cent replenishment in about 31 minutes.
The brand offers three cables included with the vehicle, and there is also a home charger installation offered at no additional cost. Plus, customers will be granted six years of free charging access to the Chargefox network.
Other ownership considerations include a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty for the vehicle, and an eight-year warranty for the battery pack. Plus, Audi has six years of servicing cover at no cost, with servicing intervals set at 24 months/30,000km.
And on top of that, the brand has a six-year roadside assistance program.
There is an impressive standard safety tech list, including autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian, cyclist and junction detection, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, a surround-view camera system, front and rear parking sensors, a self-parking system, adaptive cruise control and a lane-keeping system that is simple enough to switch off, if you wish.
Just note that it is missing traffic sign recognition, which a lot of other cars have, and there are only six airbags, which is fewer than many rivals.
If you are expecting big differences between the existing e-tron model and the new Q8 take on things, you may be reading too much into the Q8 badge.
Admittedly, it is better to drive than it was, thanks to the fact the brand has reworked the steering to have a quicker turning action, and as a result it is a bit less floppy when you change directions.
And the fact that adaptive air suspension is standard means it offers a comfortable and compliant ride in most situations, though the weight of this vehicle can be clearly felt when you are pushing it in corners… or even when you’re not. It is undeniably hefty, despite possessing a 51:49 front-to-rear weight distribution and quattro all-wheel drive.
Of course, 300kW/664Nm of silent grunt helps this thing feel effortless to drive when it comes to acceleration, and indeed it is going to be fast enough for most driver’s requirements, at least in a straight line.
The braking performance is admirable, too, and while it does have adjustable regenerative braking including a pretty aggressive top mode that almost allows single-pedal driving, it will not come to a complete stop unless you hit the brakes.
It is quiet and refined at pace, though, and while it might not scratch the itch for someone who wants a performance electric model, it has ample power, and certainly has luxury on its side – and that’s the job of this version in the Q8 e-tron range.
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