In-depth reviews

Audi Q8 - Engines, performance and drive

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

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Engines, performance and drive Rating

3.1 out of 5

Price
£75,805 to £117,005
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​The Audi Q8 feels 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 large SUV, but not so if you’re looking for something that’s more rewarding to drive. The BMW X6Porsche Cayenne and Range Rover Sport are all more obviously sporty, but the Audi has more of an edge when it comes to comfort.

All Q8s sold in the UK sit 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. We also found the larger 22-inch wheels to be a little skittish at lower speeds. The Q8 is supremely quiet at speed, though, with barely any wind or road noise and a very well muted engine bay.

Steering feel is like every other Audi, which means it offers no sense whatsoever of the road through the steering wheel rim, but is accurate and responsive to inputs anyway. The eight-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 also 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.

Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed

The core Audi Q8 range comes with a choice of two engines. First is a 3.0-litre V6 diesel called the 50 TDI. It’s an impressively smooth and refined unit that includes sophisticated mild-hybrid technology, and with 282bhp it offers pretty rapid acceleration, too. 0-62mph arrives in 6.1 seconds, and top speed is 150mph. The other option is a 335bhp 3.0 V6 55 TFSI petrol. This will propel the Q8 from 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds.

The hotter SQ8 comes with a 4.0-litre petrol V8 which produces 500bhp and 770Nm of torque. This allows the bulky coupe-SUV to sprint from 0-62mph in 4.1 seconds, and then proceed onto a limited top speed of 155mph.

The slightly bonkers RS Q8, meanwhile, also uses a TFSI V8 petrol engine, only this time it’s been cranked up to return 592bhp and 800Nm of torque. This results in a supercar-esque 0-62mph sprint time of just 3.8 seconds. The RS Q8 also has a limited top speed of 155mph.

Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    55 TFSI Quattro S Line 5dr Tiptronic
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £62,815

Most Economical

  • Name
    50 TDI Quattro S Line 5dr Tiptronic
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £73,220

Fastest

  • Name
    SQ8 TFSI Quattro Launch Edition 5dr Tiptronic
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £99,425

Shane is responsible for looking after the day-to-day running of the Auto Express website and social media channels. Prior to joining Auto Express in 2021, he worked as a radio producer and presenter for outlets such as the BBC.

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