Overview

What is it?

Audi’s Q-brand range-topper. Cram as many superlatives into an official description as you can, and you’ll have an idea as to how Audi regards its supersized SUV. Key rivals include the BMW X6 and Mercedes GLE Coupe in the premium SUV market.

Launched in 2018, it most obviously apes the A8 saloon’s slick, chunky and mega-mouthed design language, while being stuffed full of various strains of tech and looking expensive. It’s also a four-door, five-seater ‘with coupe styling’ – which just means the rear slopes more than a Q7 – though the frameless doors are actually really very neat, and unique in the segment.

There are big arches, fantastical feature lines, funky LED lighting and some bulging wheel arches. Boring it is not. Whether it’s to our taste is currently running at 50:50 though, and has been since it went on sale.

It looks big.

Feels it, too, especially around town, measuring over two metres with the mirrors. Once you’re out of the city, however, it shows its true colours as a rapid, comfy cruiser with a surprising ability to go around corners – full details on the driving tab.

All Q8s feature quattro AWD (with a standard locking centre diff) plus air suspension as standard, while dynamic all-wheel steer, which can turn the rear wheels by up to five degrees, is optional on lower-spec models and standard on top spec. Buyers also get an eight-speed automatic gearbox straight out the box.

What’s it like inside?

It looks really smart in here, with the dash set up refreshingly clean and simple. You get Audi’s really rather lovely Virtual Cockpit as standard plus a dual screen infotainment cluster, while there’s quite a bit of progressive thinking and a clever materials mix. Oh, and then there’s the 39 driver assistance systems available depending on spec. You will not be short of buttons to push, that’s for sure. Head over to the interior tab for the full lowdown.

What’s under the bonnet?

There are two internal combustion engines available, a 50 TDI (282bhp, 3.0 litre V6 turbo diesel) and a 335bhp 55 TFSI V6 petrol, plus a plug-in hybrid 55 TFSI e (335bhp 3.0-litre engine and 134bhp electric motor).

The 50 TDI and 55 TFSI get 48-volt mild hybrid tech, which is basically a little lithium-ion battery in the boot that feeds a water-cooled starter motor up front, a system that allows for engine coasting off-throttle, extended and improved (as well as smoother) stop-start functionality and reduced turbo lag.

The plug-in hybrid, with its 17.8kWh battery under the luggage compartment, gets a claimed (but as ever, taken with a pinch of salt) 122.8mpg with 52g/km CO2, plus an electric range of up to 28 miles at speeds of up to 83mph.

Sounds expensive…

It’s not cheap granted, but neither is it particularly stiffly priced for the segment, weighing in at a basic price of £68,955 for the S line, £72,950 for the Black Edition and £89,750 for the Vorsprung. It’s wise to note that the latter is pretty much bingo on the ticking of the options boxes, so it works out at decent value if you want all the toys in one go. Head over to the buying tab for more.

Our choice from the range

audi q8 review

Audi

50 TDI Quattro S Line 5dr Tiptronic

Ј64,775

What's the verdict?

“Audi's big, aggressive Q8 is a comfortable cruiser and more practical than expected, with its smart interior a sure crowd pleaser”

It’s a complex car, the Q8. What feels initially like yet another thinly sliced niche actually resolves into a very capable SUV that’s a good deal more practical than the looks would suggest.

It’s polarising in terms of styling, but it certainly isn’t dull, and you can change the entire aesthetic with a choice of exterior colour. The interior is fantastic, the technology enough to make you feel like an early adopter, and it’s all executed in a way that makes you feel like this is definitely a class-leader in terms of gadgets. It’s not a driver’s car, but neither is it embarrassed by anything.

Driving

What is it like to drive?

We’ve spent most time in the 50 TDI and it’s a rapid, comfy cruiser with a surprising ability to go around corners. Even on the 22-inch wheels.

It’s not an exciting car to drive, but it disguises its size brilliantly (0–62mph in 6.3 seconds is very respectable), and has a decent stretch of dynamic change from the seven different (selectable) modes.

Seven modes?

Yep, deep breath: you get Comfort, Efficiency, Auto, Dynamic, Individual, Off-road and All-road. ‘Comfort’ really is leggier and softer, ‘Dynamic’ noticeably firmer and more responsive with a 40mm suspension drop. This sounds obvious, but it isn’t always the case. The off-road mode raises the suspension 50mm from the Comfort/Standard position in case you need to potter down a track.

Claimed MPG is 33.2mpg – a figure we pretty much matched bang on – and as ever the all-wheel drive is clever and subtle, with torque-vectoring on the rear axle, and a torque split that can shove up to 70 per cent to the front or 85 per cent to the rear, depending on conditions.

Is it fun to drive?

The steering isn’t the last word in communication, but this is a big car that doesn’t make you wince trying to thread it down a back lane. It goes where you put it with the minimum of fuss, feels lighter than it is and can three-point turn with the best of them. For which we thank the four-wheel-steering option.

It’s wide – over two metres with the mirrors as mentioned – and has some fairly hefty blind spots, but there’s a suite of systems (though we quickly turned off the over-sensitive collision avoidance assist) to deal with the issues.

Overall, it’s a ‘doing’ car rather than something you’d choose to take out for the hell of it, but the general feeling is that Audi has got the air-ride nicely sorted in this one: you really can cruise efficiently and well, and it demands very little in the way of concern, even though it’s a big old thing.

Interior

What is it like on the inside?

Refreshingly clean and simple. You get a good-sized steering wheel, five comfortable seats, plenty of useful stows and cubbies (particularly within the large centre tunnel), USB sockets front and rear for all your gadgets; it’s as practical as they come and features everything you need in a big family wagon.

The piano black wraparound dash – running from the front doors across the instrument panel – looks particularly smart, as does the interior ambient lighting, but the quilted grey leather wouldn’t be our first choice so it’s well worth playing around on the configurator. Still, lovely and comfortable all the same.

It feels premium, then?

Absolutely – the standout feature has to be the wide-screened, high-def, slick-graphic’d central display, consisting of a 10.1-inch upper screen, used for controlling the infotainment and navigation system, plus a secondary lower 8.6-inch display, used to manage the heating, air conditioning, comfort functions and suchlike.

It’s clever and useful and there’s been a lot of thought put into it, even down to the clicky haptic feedback on the touchscreens. It’s a little intimidating at first and takes a bit of getting used to, but you soon get your head around divvying up the functions and relegating the stuff that you don’t use as much.

Our only real negative was the position of the wireless charger located under the central armrest, which we found resulted in our phone losing signal, meaning Google Maps kept losing where we were when using CarPlay. Annoying.

How much space is there?

There’s acres of space in the back and a decent boot (505 litres in the plug-in hybrid, 605 litres in the ICE model), though slimmed slightly by the beetle back (i.e. not hugely brilliant for dog owners). The rear seats split, too, so there’s every possibility that you can actually make use of the space to do practical things.

Yes, a blocky Q7 is bigger with its 770 litre boot and has seven seats, but you don’t buy a Q8 for that – it’s just more practical and useful than you might think on first appraisal. Oh, and for reference, the standard model’s boot is still 25 litres bigger than a BMW X6, though a little shy of the Mercedes GLE Coupe’s 655 litres.

Buying

What should I be paying?

Prices start at £68,955 for the S line, £72,950 for the Black Edition and £89,750 for the Vorsprung, with the plug-in hybrid an additional £7-8k on top. Monthly payments start at around £1,040, £1,100 and £1,390 respectively, on a four-year agreement and with a six-month initial payment.

Rivals? The BMW X6 starts a little cheaper at £65,740, with the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe starting at a pricier £87,080.

What are the kit choices?

There’s a raft of kit as standard even on the S line: 21-inch alloys, air suspension, eight-speed automatic ‘box, quattro, Matrix LED lights, leather seats, climate, MMI-Plus, parking plus, active safety tech, and the rest.

Black Edition adds, er, a black styling pack, 22-inch alloy wheels, flat-bottom steering wheel, four-zone climate control, and polished oak interior trim, while Vorsprung models get all-wheel steering, a panoramic roof, head-up display, Bang & Olufsen sound system, heated sports seats with ventilation and massage function, and more.

The Comfort and Sound pack – the only optional pack available – is a £2,295 optional extra on S line and Black Edition trim, standard on Vorsprung.

What’s the best spec?

We’d be tempted by the entry-level 50 TDI – do you need any more than 286bhp and 0-62mph in 6.3 seconds in your posh family runaround? Not really. It’ll cruise around happily, provide 550 miles-ish to a tank of diesel, and soothe away boring commutes with a duvet of technology.

If you’re on a budget (unlikely) then S line trim is already impressively equipped, but top-spec Vorsprung looks pretty much spot on when it comes to option box ticking, so it works out at decent value if you want all the toys in one go.

Keyword: Audi Q8 review

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