Audi Q8 Review

You won’t have trouble finding the new Audi Q8 in a crowded car park – it’s one of the biggest SUVs on sale – but boxier alternatives have bigger boots and come with the option of seven seats

8/10
Wowscore

This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car

What's good

  • Relaxing to drive
  • Spacious cabin
  • Loads of high-tech features

What's not so good

  • Very expensive
  • No seven-seat option
  • Slow-to-respond gearbox

What do you want to read about Audi Q8?

Overall verdict

You won’t have trouble finding the new Audi Q8 in a crowded car park – it’s one of the biggest SUVs on sale – but boxier alternatives have bigger boots and come with the option of seven seats

The all-new Audi Q8 is a giant sporty SUV with a seriously high-tech interior, a pair of powerful engines and some seriously imposing styling to help it stand out from the likes of the Mercedes GLE Coupe and BMW X6.

It might be based on the Q7, but the Audi Q8 looks even more titanic on the road thanks to a huge octagonal grille, some aggressive headlights and a set of giant 21-inch wheels.

Step inside and you’ll notice the roof in the Audi Q8 is lower than in the Q7, but there’s still more than enough headroom for you to get comfy – even if you’re over six-foot tall. The Audi Q8’s interior looks almost identical to what you get in the luxurious A8 – so you get three giant infotainment screens, lashings of brushed aluminium trim and a huge slab of glossy plastic on the dashboard. Most of the dashboard can be covered in soft leather too, but at a price.

Everything feels strong enough to withstand a nuclear blast and the standard sports seats come with more than enough adjustment to help you find your perfect driving position. You can also get some upgraded Super Sports seats to hold you even more firmly in place in tight corners, but they cost a lot and limit the view out for rear seat passengers.

Your passengers in the back don’t have quite as much space to stretch out as in the Q7, but there’s still space for two six-footers to get very comfortable. The larger side windows and taller roof make it feel less claustrophobic than the likes of the BMW X6 and the Audi Q8’s boot is more spacious, too.

Unlike the rather dowdy Q7, the Audi Q8 has ample road presence – the only thing that lets it down are those horrendous fake exhaust pipes…

Mat Watson
carwow expert

The Audi Q8’s engines are designed to make it a relaxing motorway cruiser, with plenty of poke for blasting past slow-moving traffic. The 3.0-litre V6 diesel in 50 TDI models will make light work of crossing continents while the 340hp V6 petrol in 55 TFSI variants turns this relaxing cruiser into a seriously sporty SUV.

Both models come with an automatic gearbox as standard and super-comfy air suspension to iron out bumps in the road. It’s a little stiffer than the Q7 so it feels very slightly sportier – impressive, given the fact the Q7 is a really good SUV to drive in its own right.

Another trick up the Audi Q8’s sleeve is its impressive 3500kg towing limit – something made easier by the optional four-wheel steering that helps make the Audi Q8 as manoeuvrable as possible.

Also standard is a boatload of safety kit, including an advanced cruise control system that’ll accelerate, brake and even steer for you on well-marked roads. This helps make the Audi Q8 a seriously safe SUV that should score very highly when it’s crash-tested by Euro NCAP.

What's it like inside?

The Audi Q8 comes with one of the most high-tech interiors of any luxurious SUV, but the fancy three-screen infotainment system isn’t quite as easy to use as in some simpler alternatives

Sitting in the Audi Q8 feels a bit like you’re in an A8 that’s parked on the back of a low-loader – you get the same luxurious design, but with an even more commanding view out

Mat Watson
carwow expert

How practical is it?

The Audi Q8 looks more svelte than the Q7 on which it’s based, but it still comes with a very spacious cabin and a big boot. Unfortunately, you can’t get it with seven seats

If the taller Q7 is a roomy two-story detached house, the more squat Q8 is a sprawling luxury villa – it’s not quite as spacious inside, but you could hardly call it pokey…

Mat Watson
carwow expert
Boot (seats up)
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Boot (seats down)
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The Audi Q8 is a huge car, so there’s loads of space inside. The front seats get plenty of electrical adjustment to help you find your ideal position, and electric lumbar adjustment comes as standard to help stave off lower-back ache on long drives. The driver’s seat comes with a handy memory function with space for six different settings so you won’t have to worry about losing your preferred seat position if you lend your car to someone else.

Super Sports seats – standard in Vorsprung cars and optional in S-Line – are more thickly bolstered, with upgraded leather upholstery, that’ll hold you in place even more securely in tight corners. They aren’t really worth the extra money though. Whichever seats you pick, you can adjust the position of the side bolsters and swab through the central touchscreen, while everything else can be done using physical buttons down by the doors.

Vorsprung cars also come with sliding rear seats that let you prioritise rear passenger space or boot capacity, depending on whether you’re carrying some tall passengers or bulky luggage.

Even without this feature, however, there’s loads of space in the back of the Audi Q8 for tall adults to stretch out. Headroom isn’t quite as generous as in the boxy Q7 – especially in Vorsprung models with their standard panoramic glass roof – but the Audi Q8’s certainly better for carrying tall passengers than the BMW X6 and Mercedes GLE Coupe. Fitting three adults in the back is entirely possible, however, the middle passenger will have to share foot room with the outer two which, in turn, will have their heads slightly brushing the ceiling. Unfortunately, the rear windows barely roll halfway down.

Fitting a child seat in the Audi Q8 is a breeze, thanks to the relatively tall roof and the wide-opening rear doors. The clearly marked, but easily losable Isofix anchor points mean you won’t struggle to safely secure the seat base either, and you’ll only have to stoop down to strap in a child if you’re exceptionally tall.

The Audi Q8’s door bins are all big enough to hold a 1.5-litre bottle and there’s space in the glovebox for two extra 1.0-litre bottles. You get a dedicated tray in the centre console for storing your phone that also comes with a wireless charging feature, but there’s barely enough space for anything else.

The two cupholders in the front aren’t particularly wide, but they’re more than big enough to hold a cup of coffee and deep enough to help prevent spillages. The large folding cover does make it slightly tricky to lift a cup out without accidentally removing its lid, however. In the back, you get a pair of door bins large enough to hold a 1.5-litre bottle each and two extra cupholders built into the folding rear armrest.

With the back seats up, the Audi Q8’s 605-litre boot capacity puts it right between the 580-litre X6 and the 650-litre GLE Coupe. That’s big enough to carry two sets of golf clubs or lots of very bulky suitcases. Vorsprung models are even more practical thanks to their standard sliding rear seats that let you trade a bit of rear legroom for more boot space. They also come with a handy three-way (40:20:40) split, so you can carry two passengers and some very long items at once.

If you need to carry even more luggage, you can fold all the seats down to open up a 1,755-litre load bay – that’s more than you get in the Mercedes and significantly bigger than the BMW can manage. It’s roomy enough to carry two bikes with their wheels attached, but there is a slight ramp in the floor which can make it a touch tricky to slide heavy boxes right up behind the front seats.

You don’t get remote levers in the boot to fold down the back seats, either – you have to pull individual handles on each side by the back doors before they’ll flip down.

If you slide the back seats forward in Vorsprung models before folding them down they leave a very large gap in the boot floor. It’s not a huge issue if you’re carrying large items, but a small soft bag can easily fall down in between the seats.

Read full interior review

What's it like to drive?

Comfortable and fast

The Audi Q8 is a sportier alternative to the Q7, but it still feels more at home on an arrow-straight motorway than a winding country road. Fans of super-sharp handling should look elsewhere

Driving the Audi Q8 around town feels like piloting a particularly imposing-looking cruise ship down the Thames

Mat Watson
carwow expert

Currently, the Audi Q8 comes with one petrol and one diesel engine, available in several power outputs, both of which drive all four wheels through an automatic gearbox.

The 50 TDI diesel – a 3.0-litre V6 – produces 286hp, which is enough to accelerate the hefty Audi Q8 from 0-62mph in just 6.3 seconds. It gets a little noisy when you put your foot down, but it soon settles into a quiet, relaxing motorway cruise.

This is partly down to the mild-hybrid system you get as standard across the Audi Q8 range. This uses a small electric motor to boost performance and fuel economy by shutting the engine off when it isn’t needed. Audi claims it’ll return 41.5mpg and we managed 40mpg out of town and comfortably more than 30mpg in heavy traffic – not bad for a behemoth of an SUV.

There’ll also soon be a more affordable 45 TDI diesel model with 231hp that’ll be cheaper to run. It won’t have the same grunt for overtaking slow-moving traffic as the 50 TDI model, however. Expect a more-powerful 55 TDI engine to join the range at a later date.

If you fancy something a little faster, a 55 TFSI petrol model with 340hp will go on sale in early 2019. This is expected to accelerate from 0-62mph in less than six seconds, but with this extra turn of speed comes poorer fuel economy – achieving an mpg figure in the low thirties will require some careful rationing of the accelerator pedal.

Both diesel cars come with an eight-speed automatic gearbox that’s relatively smooth, but can be a little sluggish to change down when you accelerate hard – especially in Comfort and Eco modes. The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic in petrol versions changes gears more quickly but isn’t quite as smooth at slow speeds.

The Audi Q8 comes with four-wheel drive to maximise grip on slippery roads and when you’re accelerating out of tight corners. Unlike in some other Audi models, however, this system can’t disengage drive to the rear wheels to improve fuel consumption.

The Audi Q8’s vast size means you sit very high up and get a great view out over traffic. Sure, its sloping roofline means rear visibility isn’t quite as good as in a Q7, but there are fewer blind spots to worry about than in a Mercedes GLE Coupe or BMW X6.

The Q8’s chunky door mirrors produce a distinct whistling sound at motorway speed and you’ll hear quite a bit of tyre noise from its vast wheels.

Around town, the Audi’s reasonably easy to drive for such a big car. There’s no disguising its vast size, but at least the standard air suspension irons out all but the worst bumps and potholes. Thankfully, the light steering means your arms won’t start to ache after a few hours of navigating through tight city streets.

Unlike the A8, the Audi Q8 doesn’t come with rear-wheel steering as standard – it’s an optional extra on all but Vorsprung models. This system helps reduce its turning circle around town and helps make it feel more stable when changing lane at motorway speeds.

It’s still pretty tricky to park, however, but at least you get front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera as standard. There’s also a 360-degree camera system that’ll help you avoid damaging any of the Q8’s huge wheels on tall kerbs but it’s only available in top-spec Vorsprung models or as part of the rather expensive Comfort and Sound pack.

The Audi Q8 gets slightly firmer suspension than the Q7, so it feels a bit more agile on twisty country roads but you’ll struggle to tell the difference unless you’re really barrelling along.

More interesting than the subtle suspension tweaks, however, are the Audi Q8’s numerous active safety features – especially in high-spec Vorsprung models. Standard S-Line cars come with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and cruise control, but top-spec cars get a semi-autonomous driving system that’ll brake, accelerate and steer for you on well-marked roads.

This uses data from the sat-nav to know when to slow down before tight turns, junctions and roundabouts – providing you keep your hands on the wheel. Fail to do so, and it’ll flash up warning messages, before eventually pulling over to the side of the road with the hazard-warning lights on. If you still fail to respond to its various beeps and buzzers, it’ll even call the emergency services.

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