The Audi Q8 seems late to the big, coupe SUV party. BMW has been selling its swoopy-roofed 4x4, the X6, for ten years and Mercedes has been touting around the GLE Coupe for a couple of years, too. Even Lamborghini, hardly a company known for SUVs, has beaten Audi to the festivities with its Urus.
However, if the long wait is what has created the Q8’s totally natural and effortless driving characteristics and impressive levels of refinement, then it was worth it. So, you aren’t going to find colossal levels of steering feel, an infinitely adjustable balance or deep levels of interaction within the Audi Q8, but then you wouldn’t really expect to.
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Instead, the Audi Q8 feels like a well-developed, cohesive and dependable car. The balance between comfort and control is well judged, performance is ample, the cabin is a wonderful place to spend time and the technology enhances the experience rather than distracts you from driving. The only contentious aspects of the Q8 are its more exuberant styling and whether there’s any real advantage to its size and bulk over an A6 Avant.
Audi Q8 in detail
Performance and 0-60 time – Performance and speed is not the Q8’s forte, but it’s more impressive than it needs to be
Engine and gearbox – The Q8 currently only comes with a 3-litre V6 diesel engine that’s helped by a mild hybrid system
Ride and handling – The Q8 is not to be confused with a performance car, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some enjoyment to be had
MPG and running costs – Official MPG figures are impressive but you’ll need to put aside a lot to replace the big tyres
Interior and tech – The Q8’s interior is packed with tech and gadgets, but it still looks modern and sleek
Design – It might seem extravagant-looking in pictures, but the Q8 blends in with modern cars far better than you might expect
Prices, specs and rivals
Rather than starting with SE or Sport trim levels, like most of the Audi range, the Q8 comes straight in in S-line, usually a top spec trim. The S-line cars start at £65,040 and come with 21-inch wheels, adaptive dampers and air suspension, electrically adjustable and heated front seats, a mild hybrid system and, as you’d expect, four-wheel drive.
There is a higher-specification Q8, called the Vorsprung – this new trim line, that debuted on the SQ7 in the UK, will be Audi’s top-level trim on its premium models. As standard, the Q8 Vorsprung comes with even bigger wheels than the S-line (22-inch in diameter), heated rear seats, all-wheel steering, a panoramic sunroof, Alcantara head lining and a Bang & Olufsen sound system. However, the Vorsprung is significantly more expensive as it starts at £83,040.
Currently, there is only one engine available in the Q8, no matter what trim you select: a 3-litre turbocharged diesel V6 with 282bhp. That, somehow, means it’s called a 50 TDI in Audi’s new, baffling naming convention.
The bastion of the SUV coupe segment, the BMW X6, in xDrive30d specification, takes the fight to the new Q8. At £63,825 the BMW is slightly cheaper than the Audi, and with the help of 309bhp from its 3-litre in-line six it’s faster to 62mph, too. The BMW hits the target speed in 5.8sec compared to the Audi’s 6.3sec.
The only diesel version of the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe, the 350d in Night Edition Trim, is comparable on price with the Audi and the BMW at £63,860, and it too has a turbocharged six-cylinder. But with 254bhp and a 0-62mph time of 7.0sec, it’s the slowest of the three.
Away from the three main premium German manufacturers, there aren’t such obvious rivals. The Range Rover Sport doesn’t have the same pumped-up coupe-looks as the Q8, it’s more of a conventional SUV, but at £67,500 and with 302bhp from its 3-litre diesel V6 it’s comparable on paper.