New Audi Q8 e-tron 2023 review

Audi’s large electric luxury SUV gets a name change, but has the refresh improved how it performs on the road?

  • 4.0 out of 5

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    When the original e-tron launched, it was one of a handful of premium electric SUVs on the market. But as rivals have joined the pack, its competitive edge dwindled. This facelift has addressed most of the areas necessary to elevate it back to being one of the top models in its class. Refinement is strong, while range and charging are better than ever. It even looks good value next to a swelling crop of £100k alternatives.

    Mid-life facelifts mostly consist of little more than new bumpers, trim changes or efficiency improvements. Few, if any, stretch to all of those, plus a new name and – in the case of the Audi Q8 e-tron – a bigger battery for more range.

    The model has been rebadged to reflect its position at the top of Audi’s electric SUV line-up, but the 4.9-metre-long Q8 e-tron still rivals cars such as the BMW iX and Tesla Model X. 

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    • Visually, the Q8 is subtly different to the e-tron SUV. There’s a new single-frame grille, “two-dimensional” badges, a full-width light bar at the front and new paint options. Inside, apart from some material and trim tweaks, it’s business as usual.

      But perhaps most unusually for a mid-cycle update, the biggest charges are those you cannot see. Under the metal, Audi has managed to squeeze a 114kWh (106kWh usable) battery that packs 20 per cent more energy into the same floorpan. The result, Audi says, is a range of up to 343 miles.

      Our first drive is of the 55 quattro S line. As before, there’s a sleeker Sportback coupé-SUV version, as well as a triple-motor ‘S’ variant in both bodystyles – this time badged SQ8 e-tron. Basic numbers for the 55 are largely unchanged; dual motors provide 402bhp and 664Nm of torque, and Audi claims it’ll do 0-62mph in 5.6 seconds.

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      This Q8 e-tron never feels as quick as a Tesla, but there’s certainly plenty of performance. It’s still not the sharpest SUV to drive, either, despite Audi suggesting the Q8 e-tron is “noticeably more agile” than its predecessor. There isn’t a huge amount of body roll, but the car never feels tied down – probably due to its 2.6-tonne kerbweight.

      Of course, that affects efficiency. Audi has made changes to make the aerodynamics slipperier, but we never saw more than 2.5 miles per kWh during our time with the Q8. For the big-battery model, this equates to a range of less than 270 miles versus the claimed 327 miles. Expect even less in winter.

      Charging has improved, however. A higher 170kW peak on this 55 quattro means that despite the larger battery, the Q8 e-tron can charge from 10 to 80 per cent in 31 minutes. Expect a home wallbox to charge the e-tron fully in around 15 hours. 

      Audi still refuses to offer one-pedal driving in its EVs, its engineers arguing that coasting is more efficient than scrubbing off speed. They insist that the brake set-up means 90 per cent of slowing can be done via the regenerative system anyway. You can adjust the strength via steering wheel paddles.

      In truth, this is a car that continues to target comfort and refinement above all else. The interior is as luxurious as ever, and the standard air suspension smothers lumps and bumps. Wind and road noise are almost non-existent, even at motorway speeds.

      The Q8 e-tron is very well equipped, with S line models featuring matrix LED lights, a powered bootlid, twin central screens and Audi’s still-exceptional Virtual Cockpit. There are heated leather seats and parking cameras, too, as well as bigger wheels, different suspension and a sportier look.

      As before, the Audi’s clever packaging makes this one of the more practical electric SUVs on sale too, especially compared with other ICE-converted models such as the Mercedes EQC. The Q8 e-tron’s boot is a generous 569 litres, and there’s space in the nose for the charging cables. The flat floor makes it easy to fit three passengers across the back seat, too.

      Model:Audi Q8 e-tron 55 quattro S line
      Powertrain:114kWh/2x e-motors
      Transmission:Single-speed automatic, four-wheel drive 
      0-62mph:5.6 seconds
      Top speed:124mph
      Range:327 miles
      Charging:170kW (10-80% 31mins)
      On sale:Now

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