Sassy, sporty and downright sexy, the new Q8 is Audi’s big push into the ultra-SUV market. It’s more eye catching than Venus Williams on grass, but does it have the go to match the show?
If looks could kill, the Q8 would blow you up into smithereens the moment its nose enters the room. And it will enter first because, look at it! The biggest-ever single frame grille on any Audi looks imposing but not in an ill-proportioned, BMW 7er kinda way. The Q8 is full of sharp creases, corners and different materials that lend it the required gravitas without overcooking it.
Although based on the Q7’s wheelbase, it’s nothing like its staid cousin. Its stance is more sporty and with a wider track and those massive 21in wheels; it also is ready to eat hatchbacks that get in its way. Since the Q8 won’t be made in India, the buzzword is ‘customisation’ and Audi insists that no two Q8s will be alike. More than 50 colour options, interior trim, upholstery and even the exterior grille surround can be chosen to match your personality. It’s clear that the Q8 is unlike any other Audi in the line-up and it wants it that way.
There are also S and RS versions of the Q8 in the international markets, but for India the regular version comes with a V6 petrol heart that shows good specs. 340bhp and 500Nm of torque mated to a silky smooth (if a bit slow) 8-speed auto box. It’s rapid without being rabid.
For a 2.1 tonne SUV, the Q8 exhibits surprising agility around corners. It’s sharp and darty, even with the typical light and dead-feeling Audi steering. Grip is tenacious with Quattro AWD and the 21in wheels keeping the car on track. It’s the most fun-to-drive SUV this side of a Cayenne!
With great handling comes great stiffness, right? No! The Q8 has a superb mix of pliant ride and taut body control, unlike the Q7, which rolls about like a trawler at high sea. The adaptive suspension can be raised or lowered and the paddle shifts give you manual control, making it even more involved.
Home away from home
A commanding seating position will keep the driver happy, but even the rear passengers won’t have much reason to complain with recline and slide function for the rear seats. The cushioning is on the firm side but nothing too jarring. The 600lts of boot space will swallow all your needs too.
Besides the massive bulk, the Q8 has every creature comfort you’d want from a flagship SUV. Huge, panoramic sunroof, 3-zone climate control, Ionizer with perfume, 4 x USB ports, wireless charging, cruise control and more tech than Iron Man’s lair probably. No wonder it’s his preferred brand of choice.
Big SUV. Big tech.
The Q8 doesn’t skimp on equipment. You’ll probably run out of time choosing options when you order yours. The top screen (10.1in) takes care of all the media, lights and car settings while the lower (8.6in) screen is for climate controls but can also double up as a writing pad or QWERTY keyboard for navigation inputs. Wow!
With many speakers and more than 1900watts of power, the cabin of the Q8 can be transformed from a studio to a concert hall, depending on the mood you’re in. It engulfs you but the Volvo’s B&W and Merc’s Burmester still trumps it.
One of the things that should seal the deal for many are the incredibly comfortable seats. Active bolsters, adjustable thigh support, ventilated for cooling or heating and all-electric, the front isn’t a place you’d wanna leave. Finished in leather, gloss black, open pore wood and aluminium, the cabin exudes an air of sci-fi without trying too hard. Buttons are kept to a bare minimum, relying on haptic touchscreens and a rather poor voice assistant.
The Audi Q8 breaks many moulds, not just in styling but also in its perception. Big, heavy SUV that is fun to drive? Absolutely! It harnesses all the engineering prowess Audi engineers possess to deliver an experience that is unique, even in the world of crowded flagship SUVs. Add in the customisation, tech and drive and it’s a tempting package.