As with any premium SUV, you’d expect plenty of comfort and convenience kit. The Q8 doesn’t disappoint, with S line exterior, including 21-inch wheels, electric tailgate, 360-degree camera, Audi virtual cockpit, leather seats and a host of safety features, all for the price of $128,900, plus on-road costs.
However, the test vehicle was topped off with 22-inch alloys, adaptive suspension, LED headlamps with dynamic indicators, four-zone climate control and Bang & Olufsen 17-speaker audio, adding $11,000 to the price.
Other options included metallic paint, oak inlays, black exterior styling, plus panoramic sunroof, taking the total to $148,000.
The Q8 is as robust looking as any Audi SUV, especially up front with its signature large single-frame grille and vertical strakes prominent. The highlighted LED headlamps and contoured, front spoiler complement the bold character.
Big bonnet and muscular flanks continue the story, with the roof coupe-like sloping ever sharply to the rear window and boot, from some angles giving the Q8 the look of a partly squeezed toothpaste tube.
The car sits 38 mm lower than the Q7 and rolls on 21-inch five W-spoke alloy wheels. The test vehicle included 22-inch five double-arm alloys with the Premium plus package.
Climbing into the Q8 is to enter a clubby atmosphere with electrically adjustable seats in Valcona leather, with four-way lumbar support. Front seats are ventilated and heated.
A minimalist black panel across the dash incorporates displays and controls working well together to complement the quality finish throughout the cabin.
Four-zone air-conditioning with touch control panel in the rear and colour interior lighting package add to the high-end ambience, while an optional full leather package, with a suite of additional items in fine Nappa leather, is also available for $8900.
Anybody familiar with Audi premium product will immediately recognise the instrument set-up – the two 10.1-inch and 8.6-inch displays, with MMI touch response – interacting with the high-resolution 12.3-inch Audi virtual cockpit.
Controls and information fall easily to hand and eye, with the focus on intelligent ergonomics as you would expect in an Audi flagship. The optional Bang & Olufsen 17-speaker audio was a welcome addition to the test vehicle.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
The flagship Q8 incorporates a belt alternator starter and a compact lithium-ion battery with a 10 Ah electrical capacity, allowing the flagship to coast at speeds between 55 and 160 km/h with the engine off. Fuel savings of up to 0.7 litres per 100 kilometres are claimed by the maker.
This new 48-volt system functions as the car’s main electrical system and allows power recuperation of up to 12 kW plus start-stop operation from 22 km/h.
The new 55 TFSI 3-litre V6 petrol engine weighs just 172 kg. Its exhaust lies inside the 90-degree vee, so the short distance the gas travels and the twin-scroll turbocharger ensure fast response to pedal action.
Peak output is 250 kW at 5500 rpm and 500 Nm from 2900 to 5300 rpm, which is enough to power the Q8, the maker claims, from rest to 100 km/h in just 5.9 seconds. The Audi Valvelift system and advanced thermal management add to efficient power delivery.
The Audi-developed B cycle combustion process delivers fuel efficiency of just 9.2 litres per 100km and CO2 emissions of 210 g/km. This is partly due to fuel savings of up to 0.7 litres per 100 km through the Q8’s mild-hybrid technology.
This employs a belt alternator starter and a compact lithium-ion battery with a 10 Ah electrical capacity, allowing the car to coast at speeds between 55 and 160 km/h with the engine off. This new 48-volt system functions as the car’s main electrical system and allows power recuperation of up to 12 kW plus start-stop operation from 22 km/h.
The all-new Audi Q8 features 39 driver assistance systems to provide active and passive safety. These include autonomous emergency braking, active cruise control with stop / go system and traffic jam assist, lane departure warning, pre-sense front and rear, lane change warning, cross-traffic assist rear, head-up display and 360-degree cameras, including a view of the kerb for easy manoeuvring.
Until battery charging becomes as easy as fuelling a conventional car, the brakes will be on fully electric vehicle sales. Range anxiety – watching the clock tick down to a flat battery with no charging station in sight – will be a serious affliction for the driver.
So petrol / electric hybrids have become a stepping-stone to full EV take-up and the Q8 is a perfect example of the convenience of the system, which needs no driver input, apart from normal pedal operation, to switch power sources.
Combined urban / highway fuel consumption figure of 9.2 litres per 100 kilometres is claimed by the maker. The test vehicle came up with 12-plus and 6.9, respectively.
Out of the blocks, a claimed sprint to 100 km/h in under six seconds on the way to a top speed of 250 km/h did not seem out of the question.
There would be little to fear taking the Q8 as tested off road, with the Premium plus package, with adaptive air suspension and 22-inch wheels, giving it an impressive 254 mm ground clearance.
A plush five-seater, with no seven-seat option, there is no cargo penalty from the added positions and the vehicle has space in the rear to transport enough luggage for the grandest of tours.
Audi dips its toe in petrol / electric hybrid SUV waters with the Q8 and could tempt the well-heeled sustainable energy supporter into joining in. Needless to say, there are no privations in joining Audi down this road.
AT A GLANCE
Audi Q8 55 TFSI quattro Tiptronic $128,900
Audi Q8 50 TDI quattro Tiptronic $128,900
Metallic paint $2300
Black exterior styling package $1850
Panoramic sunroof $3550
Oak inlays, grey brown high gloss $400
Premium plus package $11,000
As tested $148,000
Note: These prices do not include dealer or government charges. Contact your local Audi dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Audi Q8 55 V6 3.0-litre TFSI petrol engine, 8sp Tiptronic automatic, quattro AWD SUV)
Capacity: 2995 cc
Configuration: V6, eight-speed automatic
Maximum Power: 250 kW @ 5500 rpm
Maximum Torque: 500 Nm @ 2900 and 5300 rpm
Electric component: Belt alternator starter and lithium-ion battery with a 10 Ah electrical capacity
Fuel type: Petrol 95 RON
Combined Cycle (ADR 81/01): 9.2 litres per 100 km
CO2 emissions: 210 g/km
Drivetrain: quattro, 8-speed Tiptronic automatic
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4990 mm
Width: 2000 mm
Height: 1710 mm
Wheelbase: 2995 mm
Kerb weight: 2265 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 85 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc
Three years / unlimited kilometres