Ride and handling
Lets get it out of the way first: the Q8 is not a thrilling driver’s car, it will not get the adrenalin rushing, you will not be in the slightest bit tempted to explore its limits of grip and you won’t want to tear down a country road. It is not a performance car, it is not an evo car. However, the driving experience is not completely devoid of satisfaction; there is something fulfilling about just how natural the Q8 feels, how easy it is to adapt to and how relaxing it is to pilot.
Initially, however, the steering seems too light. When guiding such a vast car – the Q8 is 96mm wider than a Mercedes S-class and 16mm longer than a Land Rover Discovery – you often want the steering weight to be meaty and to reflect the car’s mass. Instead the Q8 requires city car levels of effort to turn the wheel and, what’s more, the Vorsprung with a rear-wheel-steer system is hyper alert to your inputs around most corners. But without resorting to the different driver modes, where you can increase the steering weight, you become accustomed to the light steering, how easy it is to operate and how responsive it is, very quickly.
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The rest of the car requires very little familiarisation, it’s all so instinctive. There’s none of the side-to-side wobble that’s so common on cars with air suspension and the chassis keeps the body under control so, despite its large dimensions, it’s easy to place the Q8 accurately. There’s never any need to worry about grip, either, in true Audi quattro fashion.
Such tight control and limited body roll hasn’t had a detrimental effect on the car’s comfort. The Q8 rides in a very luxurious manner with the suspension smoothing out many of the road’s imperfections, the stiff shell resisting any annoying quivers or shakes, and the soft seats cosseting you from anything the chassis can’t deal with alone.
The 21-inch wheels on the Vorsprung Edition also make very little difference to the way the car rides. Unlike the SQ7 Vorsprung, where the 21-inch wheels make it very harsh, the Q8 has taller sidewalls and the only noticeable change over the S-line car is at higher speeds on rough roads where it starts to get a little more bouncy.
There’s no doubt about it, the Q8 has many physical attributes that mark it out as a luxury car – plush leather seats, a cavalcade of technology, shiny interior materials – but in reality none of those things are what make it feel luxurious. Even the comfortable and refined way in which it rides is only partly what makes it feel so premium, because, in reality, the ease at which you can navigate any sort of road with absolute confidence and minimal fuss is what makes this car so relaxing to drive. That’s true luxury.