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.
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The Audi Q8 is one of the most imposing SUVs on sale. Its super aggressive styling means it looks more ready to devour an unsuspecting hatchback than even the Mercedes GLE and BMW X6, yet despite this, it’s still pretty easy to live with every day.
Sure the Audi Q8 shares more than a handful of mechanical bits with the boxier Audi Q7, but you wouldn’t necessarily notice just by looking at it. Its huge octagonal grille, piercing two-piece headlights and vast 21-inch alloy wheels make it look more like a naval warship than a Q7, which is more a lolloping oil tanker.
Things feel just as titanic when you step inside. The roof is a little lower than in the Q7, but you won’t struggle for headroom unless you’re the sort of person who can replace lightbulbs without using a ladder, and there’s plenty of space for two adults to stretch out in the back.
All this room has left Audi with space to pack the Q8 to the brim with cool features. As standard, you get the same futuristic triple-screen infotainment system as the uber-luxurious A8 saloon. There’s one in front of the steering wheel, another on the dashboard and a third underneath that just for controlling the Q8’s heating and ventilation. The latter takes a bit of getting used to, but it comes with some neat haptic feedback like a smartphone to help you use it when you’re driving.
It doesn’t just look fancy inside, the Audi Q8 feels very well put together, too. There are lashings of leather, brushed aluminium and glossy black trim dotted about the place and every surface feels solid enough to stand on – should you ever want to.
Unlike the dowdier Q7, the Audi Q8 has ample road presence – just one look at that huge grille will be enough to scare hatchbacks from the outside lane.
So then, the Audi Q8 should have no trouble standing up to the rigours of everyday life – even if you find yourself regularly packing your car’s boot to the brim. Sure, there are some SUVs out there with bigger boots, but you’d never call the Q8’s load bay pokey. There’s space for plenty of large suitcases with the back seats up and you can even carry a couple of bikes with their wheels attached if you fold them away.
If traipsing up muddy off-road tracks to your favourite biking spot sounds like your ideal weekend activity, you’ll be pleased to know that every Audi Q8 comes with four-wheel drive as standard.
That being said, the Audi Q8 feels much more at home on motorways where its 3-litre petrol and diesel engines cruise along smoothly and quietly. The former has plenty of poke to blast past slow-moving traffic while the latter makes the Q8 reasonably economical – for a vast SUV, at least.
Whichever engine you pick, you get a smooth automatic gearbox as standard and comfortable air suspension that soaks up bumps very nicely around town. It’s even easier to potter about in if you pay extra for the clever four-wheel steering system which makes it more manoeuvrable than you’d expect of a car this size.
There are also plenty of driver assistance systems worth paying extra for. These will accelerate brake and even steer for you on well-marked roads – not just on motorways like in some alternatives.
These high-tech features certainly contribute to making the Audi Q8 one of the most futuristic and desirable large SUVs on sale, and an excellent all-rounder if you prefer your high-riding off-roaders to look sporty yet still be easy to live with. Read on for our detailed interior and specifications sections or check out the latest Audi Q8 deals to see how much you can save on one.
The Audi Q8 looks more svelte than the Q7 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…
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 storage 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 – come with softer leather trim and thicker bolsters to 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 a few tall passengers or some 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, but the middle passenger will have to share foot room with the outer two who, 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 more slightly smaller 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 which are large enough to hold a 1.5-litre bottle each and two extra cupholders built into the folding rear armrest.
The Audi Q8 has 605 litres of bootspace with the back seats in place which 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, too. It’s not a huge issue if you’re carrying large items, but a small soft bag can easily fall down between the seats.
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
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 there’s a 55 TFSI petrol model with 340hp that accelerates from 0-60mph in less than 5.9 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 lanes 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 Audi 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.
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 the most intuitive to use
Audi Q8 colours
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