The Audi Q8 is a Coupe styled grand SUV that showcases much of what ‘8’ means to the 4-ring brand. Much like the A8, it offers upper-class luxury and state of the art technology, all while allowing plenty of room for passengers and luggage to enjoy their own ‘personal space’. However, in my humble opinion, it lacks the oomph to be tarred with the same performance brush as their other 8 that begins with an R. Well it would seem, not any more, all me to introduce the SQ8.
Let’s begin under the bonnet, shall we? The SQ8 sports a 4.0 TDI engine with (thanks to its 48v nervous system) boasts three turbos, one of which being electric-powered compressor making it a mild-hybrid. Combined, the powertrain offers up 320kW and a whopping 900Nm of torque from as low as 1,250rpm. 0-100km/h comes in at under 5 seconds and top speed has the dial limited to 250km/h which is fast enough. Sure its fuel and CO2 emissions numbers are not exactly brag-worthy but its 3.5-tonne towing another tick in the performance SUV’s positive column.
This big, prestigious, sporty coupe has Audi quattro AWD which of course makes it confident to drive on many if not most NZ terrains and it even had all-wheel steer to add to the driving pleasure, allowing for tighter turns at slower speeds and increased grip in the corners as the speedo heads north.
Having attended the NZ launch for this new SUV, I was pretty aware of its capabilities and therefore eager to spend an extended amount of time with it – and so were the family for that matter.
My review model came fully loaded with everything from 22-inch feet to a virtual cockpit. From the tip of its blackened octagonal grille surround to the toe of its quad exhausts at the rear (ok so two of those are cosmetic only but who’s counting?), it’s quite a sight.
The SQ8 itself is big and bold, it maybe 2.3 tonnes in mass but somehow it effortlessly sprints of the mark with the pace of a sportscar. The cockpit is lavish, with quality leather and fine finishing but it’s also ultra-modern with dual-screen displays that are connected to Audi’s easy to navigate MMI system. On the subject of Navigation, it’s all real-time in terms of traffic and the google maps view is very, very clear. The quality sounds come by way of B&O with 23 speakers that immerse you in ‘80s music (or maybe something more modern should you so choose).
With the sun out, we headed to Sullivans Bay a beach north of Auckland, it’s a great way to showcase a vehicle’s prowess with tight 15km/h corners and a wee smidgen of corrugated gravel to spice things up. Plus the destination is very family-friendly.
We dutifully packed for a week at the beach (even though we were only there for the day), yet there still seemed to be plenty of room for more should we so choose, the 606L of seat up boot space coping well with our travel demands.
Engaging ‘Dynamic’ drove mode for the twisting tarmac, the SQ8’s air suspension hunkers down ready for a sportier drive. The V8 engine note can faintly be heard as you push the revs up in the several thousands, it’s not overpowering but warm and confident and the 8-speed tiptronic box never struggles to find the right gear. The result is a drive fast enough to be told off by wife but worth every bit of the flack.
For the metal surfaces, a quick tap up the drive mode menu to ‘All Road’ offers an increased ride height and softer journey for all inside, actually, it’s remarkably smooth and quiet too – or maybe I was just getting the cold shoulder for my tarmac drive.
The SQ8 is a welcomed addition to the Audi ‘8’ family and quite the coup. It offers up luxury and prestige in droves, it’s technologically advanced and has some serious oomph under your right foot, its 900Nm of torque is seemingly endless. The Coupe design is easy on the eye and the quattro/all-wheel steer is easy on the curves. Next stop will be the range-topping petrol RS option, I’m registering my interest as we speak.