Auto123.com - Helping you drive happy

2024 Audi Q8 e-tron first drive

2024 Audi SQ8 e-tron | Photo: B.Charette
Get the best financial rate for your car loan at Automobile En Direct
Benoit Charette
The newest electric option in the Audi lineup will be available in a few flavours

Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain - It is in the enchanting and sometimes extraterrestrial setting of this small volcanic island that Audi presented the latest member of its electric family, the Q8 e-tron. We can't say that the German brand went looking very hard for this new confusing name, since there is also a gasoline-powered Q8 model. To add to the confusion, the most powerful model will be the SQ8 e-tron.

A second generation of the e-tron SUV

In fact, Audi is simply keeping the same approach, as its first electric SUV introduced in 2017 was simply called e-tron. The Q8 e-tron is the second generation of the e-tron SUV. To clarify, it is the second generation of the e-tron SUV that adds the Q8 moniker to its name. Audi, like every other automaker, is adding a sixth electric model to its portfolio, the brand that will have 20 by 2026.

Browse cars for sale available near you

More batteries and more range

Before we talk about its style, a word on its capabilities. As things are moving at a rapid pace in the electric world, Audi has taken this into account with its Q8 e-tron. The keywords here are range and power. Canada will offer two models. The first one that will show up on the market towards the end of April 2023 (as a 2024 model) will be the Q8 55 e-tron. It will offer 300 kW of power or 402 hp and 490 ft-lb of torque with a claimed WLTP range of 582 km for the regular SUV model and 600 km for the Sportback model (or 535 and 520 km by EPA standards, so for North America).

The SQ8 e-tron will offer an increased power output of 370 kW (496 hp) and 717 ft-lb of torque. For this version, the range (still in WLTP cycle) is 494 km for the SUV and 513 for the Sportback variant (457 and 440 km here). Note that the current e-tron SUV has a range of 365 km according to the EPA.

2024 Audi Q8 e-tron Sportback
2024 Audi Q8 e-tron Sportback | Photo: B.Charette

Where does this increased power come from?

Instead of 12 coils generating the electromagnetic field of the first e-tron, there are now 14. This means that the engine generates a stronger magnetic field, which increases the torque.  For the SQ8 version, you get a three-motor concept.

One 166-hp electric motor in the front and two electric motors in the rear, one for each wheel, each developing 131 hp. Torque can be distributed to the wheels by the two rear electric motors in a fraction of a second. There's also the battery, which is larger. The 95-kW (gross) battery is replaced by a 114-kW battery that offers 106 usable kW, which allows for a better range. You are also able to charge with a maximum of 170 kW (instead of 150). This means that in fast charging you can take as little as 32 minutes for a 10-80 percent charge. On a Level 2 charging station, you have 11 kW of charging speed.

In terms of style?

The real novelty comes from the Sportback model which is brand new for Audi. At 4.91 meters, this Q8 e-tron is longer than the current e-tron. The SQ8 e-tron and the SQ8 Sportback e-tron are each two millimeters lower and 39 mm wider than the 55 model. Cargo space is at 569 liters for the SUV and 528 liters for the Sportback. There's an additional 62 liters in the front for smaller objects. To stretch the range as much as possible, Audi has finely tuned the aerodynamics. Once on the road, you can close the electric flaps that automatically close the radiator for an optimized air flow and a reduction in air resistance. You have a cx of 0.24 for the Sportback and 0.27 for the SUV.

 

2024 Audi SQ8 e-tron
2024 Audi SQ8 e-tron | Photo: B.Charette

Heavy, but comfortable

The secret to many luxury models is the air suspension. In the Q8 e-tron, you don't feel the imperfections of the road, and you're able to adjust the ride height by 76 mm depending on the terrain you're about to face. The steering system's gear ratio has been changed so that the steering responds more quickly, even during "tricky" steering inputs. Despite the weight of 2,595 kg, this is hardly felt in the driving.

While the SQ8 can hit 100 km/h in 4.5 seconds, we didn't find this particularly important compared to the 5.6 seconds of the 55 model. Both provide a calm driving experience with great control behind the wheel. The SQ8 with the variable rear torque allows you to attack a curve faster and push hard like a sports car with no second thoughts.

An interior worthy of Audi

Standard equipment includes a power panoramic roof with heated/ventilated seats. Massaging seats are optional. Real wood and aluminum inserts add a touch of elegance, while the S Line model gets carbon fiber. Those familiar with the Audi world will feel at home with the touch responsive MMI operating system. Its two large, high-resolution screens - the 10.1-inch top screen and the 8.6-inch bottom screen - replace almost all conventional switches and buttons.

In addition to using the two touchscreens, many functions can be activated by voice command (which we didn't try). All this is complemented by the standard Audi "virtual cockpit" with full HD resolution. At this price, there are still options like a four-zone climate control system, instead of two. In addition to the standard (very comfortable) seats, highly adjustable individual contour seats will be offered as an option, with pneumatic seat and backrest adjustments and a massage function. The layout of controls and functions is the same as the rest of the Audi family.

2024 Audi Q8 e-tron
2024 Audi Q8 e-tron | Photo: B.Charette

Not until April

The new Q8 e-tron is scheduled to hit the market in late April. The SQ8 will arrive a little later. North American pricing has not yet been announced. The base price of the Q8 e-tron 50 in Germany will be 74,400 euros ($100,000). That means the base price will likely be over $100,000 and you'll have to figure a bit more for the SQ8.

We like

Better range
Comfortable and dynamic
A nice interior

We like less

One heavy vehicle
It will be expensive
Options are also costly

The competition

BMW iX
Cadillac Lyriq
Genesis GV60
Jaguar I-PACE
Lexus RZ (2023)
Mercedes-Benz EQE VUS
Tesla Model Y / Model X
Volvo XC40 / C40 Recharge

Specifications sheet of 2024 AUDI Q8 E-TRON

2024 Audi Q8 e-tron Sportback
2024 Audi Q8 e-tron Sportback | Photo: B.Charette
2024 Audi Q8 e-tron Sportback
2024 Audi Q8 e-tron Sportback | Photo: B.Charette
2024 Audi Q8 e-tron Sportback
2024 Audi Q8 e-tron Sportback | Photo: B.Charette
2024 Audi Q8 e-tron Sportback
2024 Audi Q8 e-tron Sportback | Photo: Audi
2024 Audi SQ8 e-tron
2024 Audi SQ8 e-tron | Photo: Audi
2024 Audi SQ8 e-tron Sportback
2024 Audi SQ8 e-tron Sportback | Photo: Audi
2024 Audi SQ8 e-tron
2024 Audi SQ8 e-tron | Photo: Audi
Benoit Charette
Benoit Charette
Automotive expert
  • More than 30 years of experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 65 test drives last year
  • Attended more than 200 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists