In-depth reviews

Audi Q8 review - Engines, performance and drive

It’s a great motorway cruiser, but the drive isn’t as sporty as the Q8’s looks would suggest

The Audi Q8 feels quite a lot like its Q7 stablemate on the road, which is unsurprising given the fact the two share a platform and drivetrains. That’s great if you’re looking for a deft and reasonably sharp handling big SUV, but not so if you’re looking for something that’s more rewarding to drive. The BMW X6, Porsche Cayenne and Range Rover Sport are all more obviously sporty, but given the philosophical conundrum around big ‘sporty’ SUVs at present, it’s no surprise some owners are more impressed by comfort.

All Q8s sold in the UK come on advanced adaptive air suspension, and on its softest setting the car is softly compliant while resisting roll admirably in corners. The Dynamic setting is less rewarding, as although the Q8 will tackle corners with little body roll and prodigious levels of grip, the ride quality becomes distinctly rough around the edges. Unless you’re on perfectly smooth tarmac, it’s hard to see the advantages and the compromises are considerable.

Steering feel is like every other Audi, which means it offers no sense whatever of the road through the steering wheel rim, but is accurate and responsive to inputs anyway. The 8-speed automatic is not a dual clutch device but a torque converter gearbox, and can be a little hesitant off the line.

However, the more powerful SQ8 goes some way to tackling the dynamic flaws of the standard car. It features an electric roll stabilisation system and rear wheel steering to help improve agility through corners, enabling the driver to not only turn into corners more keenly, but to have the confidence to continue pushing through and back out again. The enormous tyres at each corner, in combination with the quattro four-wheel-drive system, also help in creating bags of extra grip.

If the SQ8 doesn't pack a big enough punch, Audi has the answer in the form of the 592bhp RS Q8. It uses a 4.0-litre V8 powerplant, and is packed with driving tech to help the supersized SUV go like a true Audi Sport model.

Adaptive sports air suspension, quattro all-wheel drive, electromechanical active roll stabilisation, RS carbon-ceramic brakes, all-wheel steering and a quattro sport differential are just a few highlights, although none do anything to reduce the RS Q8's biggest problem - it's 2.4 tonne kerb weight.

The Q8 is supremely quiet at speed, with barely any wind or road noise and a very well muted engine. Even the SQ8, on larger 22-inch wheels gives a soft, cushioned ride, and at a motorway cruise the engine is doing just 1,400rpm, which makes for effortless and refined long-distance driving.

Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed

The Audi Q8 arrived first in the UK with a 3.0-litre V6 ‘mild-hybrid’ diesel engine in the 50 TDI. It’s an impressively smooth and refined set-up, and with 282bhp offers rapid acceleration too. 0-62mph arrives in 6.3 seconds, and top speed is 152mph.

The petrol option is a 335bhp 3.0 V6 55 TFSI which will do 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds, and has a top speed of 155mph. More additions to the engine line-up are expected in due course, including an e-tron plug-in hybrid. 

The SQ8 features a 429bhp 4.0-litre V8 TDI diesel engine with twin-turbocharger and electric supercharger configuration, making it good for 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds and a top speed of 155mph. The SQ8 also has specially-tuned air suspension, while the Vorsprung version gets active anti-roll control and four-wheel steering.

The RS Q8, meanwhile, uses a 592bhp TFSI V8 petrol engine which can propel it from 0-62mph in just 3.8 seconds and on to a maximum speed of 155mph.

Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    60 TFSI e Quattro Competition Vorsp 5dr Tiptronic
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £0

Most Economical

  • Name
    55 TFSI e Quattro Vorsprung 5dr Tiptronic
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £0

Fastest

  • Name
    SQ8 TFSI Quattro 5dr Tiptronic
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £80,850

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