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In-depth reviews

Audi Q8 e-tron - Electric motor, drive and performance

While not as rapid as a Tesla Model X, the Q8 e-tron offers more than enough power and performance for most buyers

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Electric motor, drive and performance Rating

4.0 out of 5

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Electric cars are famed for their instant acceleration and scintillating straight-line performance – and with 664Nm of torque in even the base model, the Audi Q8 e-tron is no different. While it may not be as fast as a Tesla Model X from a standstill – and Audi’s softer throttle calibration makes it feel less hyperactive than the Tesla – the Q8 e-tron still offers plenty of shove and more than enough punch for most motorists.

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The traction of the standard quattro all-wheel drive system combined with the immediate thrust of its electric motors makes light work of getting the Q8 e-tron off the line and performing swift overtakes. It can also nip into gaps in traffic that you might not have otherwise had the confidence to go for in the equivalent Audi Q8 diesel, because the auto gearbox on that car dithers about when you want to make a smart getaway.

On the open road, the Q8 e-tron impresses with incredible refinement. In some EVs, the lack of any engine drone makes wind and road noise even more conspicuous, but not so the Audi. It’s incredibly hushed – especially when fitted with the optional acoustic side windows – making a 70mph cruise feel more like 50mph. That being said, the wide tyres fitted to the SQ8 e-tron (which look big enough to roll a cricket green with) can kick up a bit of a din over rougher road surfaces.

The Q8 e-tron is comfortable, thanks in part to the standard air suspension system, which can cycle through various settings and levels of suppleness. Even over twisty, bumpy roads, it manages to glide over some pretty sizable potholes and drain covers that many other cars would thump across. Both 20- and 21-inch rims are available, and both deliver similarly impressive levels of comfort. The SQ8 e-tron has different suspension settings to go along with its monster 22-inch wheels, with the end result providing a firm, yet exceptionally controlled ride that puts us in mind of a well-sorted BMW M car.

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However, the Q8 e-tron is a heavy car and struggles to disguise its bulk on twistier roads. Weighing in around 2.5 tonnes (2,650kg in SQ8 e-tron form), it is more than 350kg heavier than a Jaguar I-Pace, and even weighs more than a seven-seat Model X. This harms the agility of the standard Q8 e-tron, and can make it feel quite cumbersome through tighter bends. 

The high-performance SQ8 e-tron is the exception, though. Due to some clever programming of the two electric motors it has for the rear axle, it can alter the amount of power each rear wheel gets. The full effect of this torque vectoring system is felt in Sport driving mode, where it can aggressively overpower an outside rear wheel to help tighten the car’s cornering line. It works so well in our view that you can almost kid yourself you're driving something much smaller.   

Grip levels and stability for all versions are good thanks to the relatively low centre of gravity, but this isn’t a car you’ll particularly relish hustling along your favourite B-road; it’s a similar drive experience to the Mercedes EQC, but both the BMW iX and Jaguar I-Pace are more accomplished in this regard.

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But accept that the Q8 e-tron isn’t a sports car and you’ll find the driving experience can satisfy in plenty of other ways. The regenerative braking system is particularly intuitive to use, and while it isn’t as aggressive as the set-up you’ll find in a Model X, it can sufficiently slow the car on approach to junctions or roundabouts. The system also works when you depress the brake pedal; only reverting to the mechanical brakes under particularly heavy loads, which helps to recoup more battery charge.

0-62mph acceleration and top speed

Whichever way you look at it, the Audi Q8 e-tron is a quick car. Even the entry-level Q8 e-tron 50 produces 335bhp from its two electric motors and is capable of sprinting from 0-62mph in six seconds flat. While that may not be as quick as the less expensive Tesla Model Y (0-62mph in 4.8s) it still offers all the torque, power and performance you expect from an electric car. The Q8 e-tron 50 gets a top speed of 124mph.

The Q8 e-tron 55 gets even more power, pumping out 402bhp and 664Nm of torque; enough for 0-62mph in 5.6 seconds. This set-up certainly isn’t sluggish and provides plenty of shove from rest, although it doesn’t feel rocket-ship fast like a Tesla Model X.

The 496bhp tri-motor SQ8 e-tron is the fastest of the bunch and is able to dispatch the 0-62mph benchmark in 4.5 seconds, before going on to a top speed of 130mph.

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News reporter

As our news reporter, Ellis is responsible for covering everything new and exciting in the motoring world, from quirky quadricycles to luxury MPVs. He was previously the content editor for DrivingElectric and won the Newspress Automotive Journalist Rising Star award in 2022.

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