The primary purpose of a flagship is to show the best that the brand can offer. Usually, they take the form of something tall, low, large, and expensive. In the case of Audi, the leading role was filled by the A8 sedan and its variants. But the sedan as a flagship is largely a function of tradition. Times change, and when the market goes crazy for CUVs, you need to build a different kind of flagship – something tall, LongAnd big and expensive. Something, perhaps, like Q8.
The Q8 doesn’t replace Audi’s largest sedan so much as it complements it; It’s the shiny big thing at the top of the brand’s SUV/crossover range just as the A8 sits atop a four-wheeler when it comes to cars.
The Q8 is not, fortunately, Audi’s answer to the BMW X6 or the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe. It’s positioned as a competitor to the Range Rover Sport or the Porsche Cayenne (which it shares a platform with) rather than any of those exotic German curved-top cars. If you want to think about it from a purely Audi perspective, it’s the Q5 blasted with Q7 proportions (although it’s three inches shorter and about an inch wide) and packed with all the tech you’ll find in the new A8. Or perhaps, the Allroad wagon ran vertically.
From within Audi-owning circles, it will likely attract those who no longer need the third-row Q7, perhaps even some fools who are convinced they need something other than the perfectly proportioned and eminently practical A7.
The Q8 is offered in three categories: prestige deluxe, luxury as well as range-topping prestige. A panoramic sunroof, leather seats (heated from the front), automatic climate control with three zones and more are all standard. Advancing to the higher rims gives you a host of driver aids, and of course larger wheels (premium premium with 20-inch wheels; higher rims 21 inches). If you want to go really crazy, 22-inch wheels are offered as an option.
All Q8s are equipped with a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 (not, as you’ll notice, the supercharged 3.0-liter engine available in the Q7) that produces 335 horsepower and 369 pound-feet; Likewise, an eight-speed automatic transmission that sends power to all four wheels is also mandatory.
On top of that, all Q8s get a massive new front grille, which is likely to preview the face that will be found on all future Audi crossovers. She is, politely, resolute. One thing I can tell you is that it’s visible in the rearview mirror from about half a mile away. Expect to see it often, as it will appear in other Audi SUVs.
There’s another design element worth noting, if only because it’s so subtle: The Q8’s D-pillar is an almost perfect replica of the Audi Sport Quattro’s. I won’t try to convince anyone that the Q8 is the successor, direct, mystical or otherwise, to one of the most legendary cars in the historic Audi stable, but the stylistic nod to the famous rally machine is at least interesting.
The Q8 in which I escape from Park City, just before the Sundance Film Festival crowd, is equipped with the mid-range Premium Plus ($4,000) package. My second day ride was loaded with Prestige, Luxury and Adaptation chassis packages; At $9,150, $5,950, and $2,750, they contribute (along with some other add-ons) to a whopping $88,690 sticker.
Deserves all the effort? Depends on what you’re looking for. The Q8s all come well-equipped, but the leather-wrapped dashboard (replacing the standard Audi cobblestone-plastic rubber variant), Alcantara suede headliner, and double-pane window glass for the frameless doors (reduce road noise, or in on Least I convinced myself of it), the aluminum switchgear etc made it look like a luxury kit and less Q5 bigger. No combination of options will turn the Q8 into a Bentayga (Audi also shares its bones with the big Bentley), but the extras, while pricey, don’t pay off as overkill if you’re looking to treat yourself a bit.
An adaptive chassis package with air suspension and all-wheel steering may be less of a necessity, at $2750. A compliant, comfortable ride is the name of the game here; There’s a noticeable squat on heavy acceleration, diving under heavy braking, but after splitting two sold days of driving between conventional and air-equipped Q8s, ride quality is good on all road surfaces with any suspension installed.
I can’t fault the Q8’s comfort-tuned dynamics, as the Q8 doesn’t classify itself as a track-ready super SUV; With this qualified but not dramatic 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 as the only engine option, it never will be. Paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, the engine effortlessly does what it needs to do, and never complains because the weather is thin (I didn’t even have to stop to re-puff the carburetor to make it over 9,000 feet high.! Vorsprung durch Technik Actually!). But she does it all without any real flair.
Still, there is potential for Audi to order things in the future. Somewhere on the way from Park City to Gateway, Colorado, I find a loud, deserted gas station with a huge expanse of icy pebbles. With plenty of room to play around, I assure the Q8’s quattro system is definitely backward-biased (40/60, in fact), in a good way.
A performance crossover isn’t going to replace big, low-road highway engines like the S8 in my heart. But I can see that the default SQ8 is the kind of car that, in a moment of weakness, I find myself casually having a lot of fun. What is the biggest engine you think can get stuck under the hood?
One area where the Q8 excels, along with the A8, A6, and A7, is technology integration. There are plenty of bells and whistles to play with here, from the 12.3-inch HD virtual cockpit digital instrument cluster to touchscreens where the user can configure tactile feedback (on the home screen you can drag and drop buttons for functions like navigation, radio and media, and organize them perfectly Like your smartphone’s home screen) for adaptive cruise control and driving aids.
Most importantly, though, it was completely implemented in a simplified manner. The voice command system is a good example: press the button on the steering wheel, speak of your deepest and most cherished desires (“cabin temperature two degrees lower”) and the car will match. Or don’t use it at all. In any case, it feels a lot less intrusive than the always-listening MBUX assistant from Mercedes-Benz or the gesture-based controls found in BMWs.
The thing about the Audi Q8 is that it could have ended up with a really dumb and totally unnecessary vehicle – yet another hideously cocky German SUV coupe, another answer looking for a question (but apparently no, if the sales numbers mean anything, in search of buyers).
But she didn’t. Instead, Audi has basically taken everything that works around the A7 or the A8, from the powertrain to ride quality to compact technology, and has basically stretched it vertically. it’s working. It’s not as fast as the Cayenne and loses the off-road reputation of anything bearing the Range Rover badge, but it lacks the first price tag and does a much better job of offering the latest technology than the last. Furthermore, if you don’t need a third row, you’ll find the Q8 is a more comfortable way to transport four adults than the larger Q7 due to the extra rear legroom.
It’s been a long time for all of us to try to figure out why transit is king now and to simply accept that it is – and thus, there are some wonderful people out there. Q8 is included. While you make your pick, you can also ditch the Prestige and Luxury packages while you’re at them. This is amazing he is Major, after all.
Car Model Information
for sale now
Base Price: $68,375
Price tested: $88,690
POWERTRAIN: 3.0L Turbocharged V6; Eight-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel drive
Output: 335 hp at 5000-6400 rpm; 369 @ 1,370-4500 rpm
Appropriate Weight: 4,729 lbs
0-60 mph: 5.6 seconds
Fuel consumption: 17/22/19 mpg
Features: Comfortable cabin, upscale driving, excellent technical integration, good visibility everywhere
Cons: Strange grille. Enthusiasts will crave a sturdier engine—or the SQ8 variant
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