Audi SQ8 e-tron Review & Prices

The Audi SQ8 e-tron is slightly roomier and a little more practical than its slope-roofed Sportback sibling, and it’s definitely quick, but suffers a bit in terms of range

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Reviewed by Neil Briscoe after extensive testing of the vehicle.

What's good

  • Seriously rapid
  • Excellent all-wheel drive grip
  • High-quality cabin

What's not so good

  • Basic Q8 e-tron goes further on a charge
  • Fiddly controls
  • Expensive

Find out more about the Audi SQ8 e-tron

Is the Audi SQ8 e-tron a good car?

With the SQ8 e-tron, Audi is taking on the likes of the BMW iX and Mercedes EQE SUV in the posh electric SUV space. The S bit of the badge means this one has added performance over and above the regular Q8 e-tron

Taking the regular Q8 e-tron and dumping extra power through the wheels is a bit like sticking speed boat engines on the back of a canal boat – it might not make sense at first, but there’s plenty of space inside and you can’t deny that it’s ridiculously fast.

With alternatives from Mercedes and BMW, and the likes of the Jeep Wagoneer S and a next-generation Alfa Romeo electric SUV looming on the horizon has Audi missed a trick by keeping the same basic body shape of the old e-tron quattro? Maybe, and there's a definite sense of familiarity here, but the Audi remains one of the best-looking big SUVs (and that’s true whether we’re talking about petrol or electric powered cars). 

Are there any actual differences on the outside? Well, actually yes, but they’re small. At the back there’s the SQ8 badge (the regular petrol-powered Q8 remains on sale and is a separate model), and a new bumper which on this S model looks sportier and more aerodynamic. There are new alloy wheels too, up to 22 inches in diameter, while at the front, the big grille sits a little lower. Small and subtle changes, then – and you’d probably have to own an Audi anorak to be able to spot them.  

If anything, there have been even fewer changes in the cabin. In fact, the only real updates have been some new trim materials on the dashboard and door panels. Everything else, from the driver’s digital instrument display to the twin-screen infotainment system is exactly the same. That’s not a huge issue really, as it’s all pretty good inside, and Audi’s quality standards are exceptional, but you will find some fiddly buttons and the overall infotainment experience isn’t as good as that of a BMW iX or Mercedes EQE SUV.

The Audi SQ8 e-tron remains one of the best-looking big SUVs

The SQ8 is practical, though and that’s especially true of this ‘regular’ model, which has a traditionally-styled SUV look at the back, unlike the sharply-angled roof of the SQ8 e-tron Sportback model. In fact, the SQ8 has more boot space than the Mercedes EQE SUV, and there’s a handy frunk (froot?) compartment in the nose. 

The SQ8 e-tron uses three electric motors — one at the front, and one each for the rear wheels — giving it 503hp and the ability to dash to 62mph in just 4.5 seconds. That’s pretty rapid, and it feels it from within the SQ8, but it’s worth remembering that the new SQ6 e-tron is more affordable, and just as quick. 

For something with this much performance, the SQ8 is a gentle doddle to drive around town, although it’s quite jiggly over bumps, even though the SQ8 uses air suspension. For maximum performance from the electric motors, you need to activate Sport mode and use the Boost function, but in daily driving you’re not likely to notice much of a difference unless you’re launching the car on constant 0-62mph runs. 

When you’re cornering on a twisty road, the SQ8 feels solid and stable, and on major roads it’s really relaxing and comfortable to drive. You don’t get all that far, though, as it’s really not an efficient car in how it uses its big battery – the regular Q8 is pretty much as good a car all-round.

If you’re interested, check out the latest Audi SQ8 e-tron deals on Carwow. You can browse used SQ8 e-trons for sale from our network of trusted dealers, or other used Audis here. And remember that when the time comes for car-changing you can even sell your old car through Carwow’s network of trusted dealers.

How much is the Audi SQ8 e-tron?

The Audi SQ8 e-tron has a RRP range of £97,500 to £115,215. However, with Carwow you can save on average £9,388. Prices start at £89,997 if paying cash. Monthly payments start at £1,386.

Our most popular versions of the Audi SQ8 e-tron are:

Model version Carwow price from
370kW SQ8 Quattro 114kWh Black Ed 5dr At Tech Pro £92,358 Compare offers
370kW SQ8 Quattro 114kWh Black Edition 5dr Auto £89,997 Compare offers

Once you start adding S letters to an Audi badge, you’re always going to be paying big money, and so it proves with the SQ8 – in this standard SUV-shaped form, it has a list price that’s just a whisker under £100,000. The sportier-looking Sportback version is more expensive still.

Then again, the SQ8 is noticeably better value than the equivalent BMW iX, the xDrive50 M-Sport model, which costs around £5,000 more than the Audi, but which does in fairness offer more range — up to 383 miles if you believe BMW’s claim. Mercedes does offer an AMG version of the big EQE SUV, which is more powerful than the Audi but a whopping £30,000 more expensive. Maybe the EQE SUV 500 is a better match for the SQ8 — it’s less powerful by far, to the tune of 100hp, but it’s a good bit closer on price than the AMG version. 

There is some internal competition from within Audi, however — the new SQ6 is just about to go on sale, which will offer slightly more power and a deal more range than you get in the SQ8, and all for around £6,000 less if you’re paying list price. 

Performance and drive comfort

Smooth and very quick, but it doesn’t offer a big advance over the standard model 

In town

Generally, the Audi SQ8’s air suspension does a good job around town, and while this being an S-badge model means it’s always going to be a bit stiffer than a standard Q8 e-tron, it’s actually pretty comfortable. Doubtless the weight — 2.6 tonnes — helps to smother out the worst bumps, but actually the SQ8 never feels all that heavy around town, as the steering is very light. 

It’s a shame that the rear visibility isn’t the best, although it’s better in here than it is in the Sportback model, but on the upside the turning circle isn’t too bad, and the all-round camera system really helps when navigating tight spaces. Actually, the progressive accelerator pedal helps too, as you can choose to let all that power loose all at once if you want to, but if you want to be a bit more sedate, you can be and just drive the SQ8 very gently indeed. 

On the motorway

The SQ8 has the sort of instant power to make joining fast-flowing motorways seriously easy — just put your foot down on the slip road and you’ll be at cruising speed in little more than an instant. Speed also helps to smooth out that slightly firm suspension, and when you’re easing along in Comfort or Auto driving modes, the SQ8 feels supple and comfortable, aided by seriously supportive front seats. 

As with almost all electric cars, it’s also very refined, but you will notice some tyre roar coming up into the cabin, made worse than in the standard model by the SQ8’s bigger wheels and lower profile tyres. 

The only major drawback to big-road driving in the SQ8 is its efficiency, or more accurately its lack thereof. For a car with a big battery, the SQ8 really burns through its electrons pretty quickly, and so your overall range is unlikely to exceed 240 miles in real-world driving. 

On a twisty road

The SQ8 stays flat through corners, and then uses the grip and traction of its all-wheel drive system to fling you, very quickly, out of them. This is a really fast car, able to accelerate viciously between corners, and the fact that it has two electric motors, one driving each rear wheel, means that it can theoretically send power to each one individually, helping to balance the handling better. The thing is that the SQ8 doesn’t feel, really, all that much more agile than a regular Q8 e-tron on a twisty road. Maybe on the race track, you’d feel some of that extra agility from the twin-rear motor setup, but at normal road speeds there’s really not much of a gap between the two, so you’d have to question if it’s worth it to spend the extra on the SQ8. 

Space and practicality

Plenty of room and comfort front and rear, but there are annoying impracticalities too 

The Audi SQ8 is a practical car up front, with big, high-backed bucket seats making for a very comfortable driving position (although annoyingly, you have to move the steering wheel around manually — you could expect electric wheel adjustment at this price level). There’s a large storage area between the front seats, which includes an upright wireless phone charger with a clip to hold your phone in place. The door bins are big too, and the glovebox is actually a decent size. There are cupholders in the centre console and space for big water bottles in the doors. 

Space in the back seats

You’ll find plenty of headroom and kneeroom in the back of the SQ8, and in this version there’s no concern about the Sportback’s sloping rear roofline eating into space. To be honest, there’s not that much difference in rear space between the two models, but this SQ8 feels airier and brighter thanks to its taller roof and bigger windows. 

If you’re trying to carry someone in the centre rear seat, it’s a bit on the narrow side, so shoulder room becomes tight, and while the floor is flat, there’s a protruding piece of centre console, which houses the rear air conditioning controls, which is liable to bump you in the knee if you’re trying to sit in the middle. It doesn’t help that there's a bulky rear armrest in the centre, which digs into your back (weirdly, there are no cupholders in that armrest…). The Mercedes EQE SUV is definitely better for rear seat space overall.

The SQ8’s ISOFIX anchors come with little plastic covers that are easy to lose. The rear door bins are a good size, and there are handy seatback nets for storage, but there aren’t any rear USB sockets, just a 12-volt connection, which seems like an odd omission. 

Boot space

The Audi SQ8 comes with a front-boot, which holds a handy 65 litres, but which will almost inevitably be full of your charging cables. Still, at least they all fit in there — in a handy Audi-branded bag no less — which means they’re not rolling around the boot. 

That boot is a good size too, at 569 litres — 40 litres more than the Sportback model — and you can expand that to 1,567 litres if you fold down the back seats, which is not that easy to do. There’s no remote seat release in the boot, so you either have to walk around or lean in, and the bumper is quite long, so not only is it a stretch, you’re also going to rub your clothes on the mucky back bumper. It’s not helped by the fact that the luggage cover comes in two solid sections, which are awkward to remove and there’s nowhere under the boot floor to stash them. A simple retracting blind would have made much more sense. It’s all a bit more annoying than it ought to be, but at least you do get more space than in the boot of a Mercedes EQE SUV, which makes do with a mere 520 litres, and more than the 500 litres of the BMW iX.

Interior style, infotainment and accessories

High-quality with a great touchscreen system, but lack of buttons can frustrate

The Audi SQ8 cabin’s overall quality is just spectacular and every single surface looks and feels expensive. The main digital dials look great — if a touch dark — and thankfully Audi has kept proper physical buttons for the steering wheel controls, rather than the annoying haptic touchpads used by Mercedes. 

In the centre of the dash, the infotainment system and the climate controls live on two separate screens (although you can swipe a couple of functions between them). This is good, as it means that you don’t have to go hunting on the big main screen for your heating functions, but even so the climate control screen just isn’t as simple to use as normal, physical buttons would be, and the haptic function, which tries to make it feel as if you’re actually pushing a button, is just weird and unsatisfying. It’s also inconsistent — sometimes it makes a haptic ‘click’ as if you’ve pressed a button, but the command hasn’t actually gone through.

Also on the weird side is the gear selector, which is a chunky aluminium switch mounted to a big, broad handle that looks like the flush for Darth Vader’s loo. It’s actually a rather pleasant thing to use, but it does take some getting used to. However, the driving mode selection button is too far away to be easy to use when you want to flick between Comfort and Dynamic modes. 

The big main infotainment screen has a reasonably sensible menu layout and doesn’t take too long to learn, but like the instrument panel it all looks a bit dark and plain. BMW does the whole digital cabin thing rather better. 

Electric range, charging and tax

In theory, the SQ8, in spite of its potent performance, should have a pretty decent range. With its big 106kWh battery, it certainly ought to – 292 miles, the official WLTP government test figure, looks okay on paper, until you realise that the BMW iX xDrive50 can manage another 50 miles on top of that. Equally, the SQ8 is going to struggle in real-world conditions to match that claimed range. We could only average 2.3 miles per kWh in mixed conditions, which isn’t great, and will limit you to between 200 and 240 miles in the real world. 

At least the SQ8 charges up quickly. In fact, it can charge at up to 170kW on a DC fast charger, which is rapid and you can optionally get it to charge at up to 22kW on AC power, which is great for a quick-ish top-up from a kerbside charging point. Just remember that the SQ8 has two charging ports, one on each side just behind the front wheel. Both have neat electric covers, but the one on the left will only take a single-decker AC plug — if you want to fast-charge, you have to use the charging port on the driver’s side, which accepts both AC and double-decker CCS DC chargers.

Safety and security

The Audi SQ8 e-tron gets a full set of five stars from the independent crash test experts at Euro NCAP, who gave it a 91 per cent rating for adult occupant protection, 85 per cent for child occupants, and 71 per cent for protecting vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists. The four-wheel drive system should help to keep you out of too much trouble when the weather turns nasty, too. 

As standard, all SQ8 models come with emergency automated braking and collision avoidance, an automatic parking assistant, an electronic speed limiter, road sign recognition, and lane departure warning.

Reliability and problems

Audi has a generally good reputation for reliability and quality, but according to Auto Express magazine’s Driver Power customer satisfaction rating, it’s been slipping a bit, dropping to 30th place out of 32 manufacturers, putting it behind both BMW and even trouble-prone Tesla. There are no specific issues with the SQ8, but given its weight and performance, we’d expect it’ll get through a set of tyres pretty quickly. 

The warranty is about as basic as it gets, too — as standard, Audi gives you a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty, but for not much money you can extend that out to four years and 75,000 miles. There is a five-year, 90,000-mile option but that’s considerably more expensive. 

The battery is separately warrantied for up to eight years and 100,000 miles. The SQ8 will only need servicing every two years or 18,000 miles and Audi has an inclusive service plan, which is priced differently according to your likely mileage.

Buy or lease the Audi SQ8 e-tron at a price you’ll love
We take the hassle and haggle out of car buying by finding you great deals from local and national dealers
RRP £97,500 - £115,215 Avg. Carwow saving £9,388 off RRP
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