If Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) were solely judged on the way they look and drive, the Audi Q8 could be claimed to be beyond ideal. The German automobile brand is certainly late to the big, coupé SUV party, given the aggressive competition in the past year. If the wait has created the Q8’s versatility, strength, and innovative elegance, then this flagship SUV is worth the delay.
The generously sized five-seater offers remarkable towing capabilities, big-time presence, a meticulously cultivated drive, and many new technologies. Built upon the same platform underpinning the Q7, Bentley Bentayga, and other VW Group SUVs, the Q8 is as long as the Q7 but checks in slightly shorter, slightly lower, and a little narrower overall.
Audi has really gone to town with the Q8’s exterior appearance. Competing against rivals like the BMW X6 and Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé, the Q8 offers a more cohesive, sportier design without being tacky. The flat roofline, wide body, and frameless side windows add to the personality of the SUV and contribute to its powerful stature while still providing generous headroom.
The octagonal grille with contoured air inlets and HD Matrix design LED headlights add an aggressive edge to the car, whereas the black underlay in the taillight bar pays homage to the Ur-Quattro, connecting past innovations to the present.
Inside, the cockpit reveals the meticulous details the designers and engineers have taken in tailoring to the driver’s needs and comfort. Seamlessly integrated into the gloss-black panel stretching across the dashboard, the MMI touch response system’s two screens angle toward the driver and uses smartphone-like interface – the touchscreens’ intuitive feedback extend to pinching and zooming into details.
If the driver digs modern technology, he will be pleased to know that handwriting can be used to key in destinations on the touchscreen, and there is a voice recognition ecosystem – if he says, “I’m hungry,” the car will suggest restaurants nearest to him. Other equally impressive features include the three-dimensional surround-view camera, Google Earth mapping, gorgeous ambient lighting choices, and spa-like massaging seat functions. The convenience of items such as wireless CarPlay and the console-based charge pad is greatly appreciated, despite vastly limiting the small storage space, while a Bang & Olufsen sound system powers the audio experience.
Adding to the array of technology features are safety precautions such as heads-up display, Traffic Jam Assist adaptive cruise control, and a host of sensors – they project a real-time three- dimensional model of the Q8 in its environment on the infotainment screen that allows for more efficient parking. The level of refinement and finishing found in the Q8’s interiors is second to none, with every inch covered in luxury leather and being exquisitely trimmed.
The looming question remains – does the drive match the striking design? Press the start button, and the Q8’s turbocharged 3.0L V-6 engine thrums quietly, which gets the car from 0-100km/h in 5.9 seconds. Whichever driving mode is chosen, power is readily on tap to overtake slow-moving vehicles with ease. The solid, highly sophisticated feel from behind the wheel is underpinned by an air suspension and huge 20-inch wheels.
The Audi Q8 delivers a smooth ride with the cabin quiet like a library; the steering wheel accessorised with thick-rimmed, leather upholstery feels quick and accurate. Feeling slightly twitchy on the oversized tyres, the suspension quickly rubs out rough patches while smartly communicating the road to the driver. There is also the 48-volt fuel-saving electrical system to provide longer engine-off moments during traffic stops. Overall, it provides a very rewarding drive in both comfort and handling.
Hands down, the Q8 takes the biggest trophy home for Audi – it is easily the most comfortable crossover Audi made, and one of the best on sale today. Naturally, not everyone would be willing to part with such a premium sum for a car (starting from $379,300 without COE), but the unparalleled quality found in the Audi Q8 deserves every cent that has gone into its research and production.