Audi Q8 e-tron: Audi’s luxury electric SUV gets new styling and improved range
The Audi e-tron was first introduced globally in 2018, and it was positioned as the luxury EV flagship in Audi’s model lineup. It rivalled the likes of the Jaguar i-Pace and the Mercedes-Benz EQC, and having spent a fair bit of time living with both the e-tron SUV and the Sportback, we attest that you can live with a luxury EV in the current day and age, and the experience is an exciting one. It’s been over a year since the e-tron and the Sportback were introduced in India, and now Audi has showcased an update to the e-tron globally. It is called the Q8 e-tron, and the changes to Audi’s electric luxury flagship are more than just skin deep.
Audi Q8 e-tron: design
Before we go ahead, let’s get the name out of the way first. Starting from 2023, the current e-tron and the e-tron Sportback will be dubbed as the Q8 e-tron and Q8 e-tron Sportback, respectively. But even if that wasn’t the case, there’s no denying the Q8 e-tron’s resemblance to to its predecessor, particularly when viewed head-on. The most prominent differentiator however is the three-dimensional singleframe grille with a light bar, that seems to connect both the headlamps and makes the Q8 e-tron appear wider than before. The digital matrix LED lights are optional. Customers can also specify the colour of the singleframe grille on the Q8 e-tron, and the grille also nestles the new Audi logo, part of the carmaker’s new corporate identity. The logo is devoid of chrome, with the four interlocking rings now being white in colour, embedded inside a black clasp body. The bumpers are now reprofiled and the Q8 e-tron also debuts another element of Audi’s new design language, with the model name now being lasered into the B-pillars. Interestingly, the Q8 e-tron also gets rear view cameras instead of traditional rear view mirrors, though it remains to be seen whether that feature would be offered in India.
The sportier SQ8 e-tron on the other hand gets additional visual differentiators, in the form of the all-black singleframe grille which does make for a very stealthy appearance, along with a sportier rear diffuser that gets vertical fins. The alloy wheel sizes range from 19 to 21-inches on the Q8 e-tron models, and the SQ8 e-tron seen here gets the 21-inch alloy wheels.
Audi Q8 e-tron: interior
The interior of the Audi Q8 e-tron is identical to its predecessor, and the luxury SUV continues to be loaded with features. You get four-zone climate control, and the standard leather seats get a three-stage seat ventilation function. A panoramic sunroof is also present. Most of the conventional buttons and switches have been replaced with the two digital displays. A 10.1-inch unit sits up top and can be used to control the infotainment system and vehicle characteristics while the 8.6-inch unit that sits lower down is dedicated for the climate control and seat ventilation functions. You can also spec your Q8 e-tron with a head up display. A variety of interior trims are on offer as well, ranging from wooden veneers to a carbon fiber finish, and the interiors of the Q8 e-tron also make greater use of sustainable materials.
Audi Q8 e-tron: suspension and steering
All e-trons have been offered as air suspension as standard and on the Q8 e-tron, the suspension has been revised for better dynamics. The air spring tuning has been optimised, along with new suspension arms and with more rigid suspension bearings on the front axle, the steering feedback has also improved. The steering of the Q8 e-tron has been revised as well, thanks to a quicker steering ratio, and that will likely aid the agility of the Audi. For the SQ8 e-tron, the suspension has been tuned for more sportiness, with the ride height, dampening and the steering being calibrated specifically for the S model.
Audi Q8 e-tron: battery and range
The Audi e-tron was earlier offered with two battery capacities – a 71kWh battery for the entry-level 50 variant and a 95 kWh battery for the 55 variant. With the Q8 e-tron, Audi has done away with the former, and the entry-level variant now gets the 95kWh. In the higher-spec 55 and SQ8 variants, the battery capacity has been bumped up to 114kWh. Audi claims that the usable battery capacity has also gone up thanks to tweaks to the battery management system.
In the entry-level 50 variant, the Q8 e-tron offers 491km of range with the SUV body style and 505km with the Sportback, as per the WLTP cycle. The higher-spec 55 variant on the other offers a claimed range of 582km for the SUV and up to 600km for the Sportback as per the WLTP cycle. The sportier SQ8 e-tron on the other hand offers a claimed range of 494km for the SUV and 513km for the Sportback, as per the WLTP cycle.
In terms of charging time, the 95kWh battery can be completely charged in around 9 hours and 15 minutes using a 11kW AC charger, with the time dropping down to 4 hours and 45 minutes if one uses the optional 22kW AC charger that Audi provides. The larger 114kWh battery on the other hand takes around 11 hours and 30 minutes to charge at 11kW and 6 hours to be fully charged when using a 22kW AC charger. The Q8 e-tron also has the capability of supporting charging at a rate of 170kW (on the 55 variant) – which means that you could top up the battery from 10 per cent to 80 per cent in 31 minutes with a DC fast charger!
Audi Q8 e-tron: powertrain and performance
The base 50 variant of the Q8 e-tron and Sportback are powered by two electric motors, and they produce a combined output of 335bhp (250kW) of power in boost mode, along with 664Nm of torque. The 55 variant on the other hand produces a higher 402bhp (300kW) of power in boost mode along with 664Nm of torque. The top speed for both the 50 and the 55 variants is limited to 200kmph. The go-faster SQ8 version however is unique, featuring Audi’s first tri-motor setup that consists of a 124kW electric motor powering the front axle while two electric motors with an output of 98kW each, power the rear wheels individually. This results in a combined output of 496bhp (370kW) on the RSQ8 e-tron, along with 973Nm of torque. The top speed of the SQ8 e-tron is limited to 210kmph.
The Audi Q8 e-tron and the Q8 Sportback e-tron continue to rival the likes of the Jaguar i-Pace and the Mercedes-Benz EQC, and the luxury EV flagship will be launched in global markets by the end of February 2023.