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Audi Q8 e-tron review: a bigger, bolder Audi EV

Heavy hauler SUV hits the spot on most counts

Audi Q8 e-tron review tracking lead

This might look like yet another new addition to Audi’s growing range of electric models, but the Q8 e-tron is really more a refresh of its first. Still aimed at customers wanting a sizeable SUV with plenty of EV range, this new take on the OG e-tron adds distinctive styling along with a new boot badge.

Priced from £96,595, the Q8 e-tron 55 quattro 300kW Launch Edition driven here carries a hefty premium over the smaller Q4 e-tron. It’s more ready to rival the BMW iX and Mercedes EQE SUV – whether you go for the upright Q8 e-tron, or the more coupé-flavoured Q8 Sportback e-tron. But can either be worth such a colossal amount?

The styling

We reckon the regular Q8, particularly in Daytona Grey, is the better looking of the pair. It has imposing exterior looks and a purposeful yet practical feel on the inside. The lines are clean, with only a little bit of fuss around the front end where air is sucked in to keep things cool in the power department. Both variants ride on huge wheels, providing a brilliantly lofty ride that so many customers are looking for.

Despite the car’s vast size, it seems surprisingly easy to catch your head on the A-pillar as you get in and out, even if you’re not that tall. A minor point; but one that could tend to irritate after a while. Gaining access from any other angle is easy though, with great rear doors that make chucking shopping, toys and/or kids into the back no problem at all. Ditto for that lovely flat and cavernous boot too.

The driver’s seat actually feels quite snug and makes you forget how chunky the Q8 is. A bulky centre console features the initially curious (but ultimately really useful) little hand rest for tweaking settings on-the-go, and fools you into thinking this is a car with a normal engine and gearbox hidden underneath.

The drive

The Q8 e-tron 55 quattro is beautifully straightforward to drive, with a neat centre console selector that makes going forwards (and reversing) a doddle. It has enough oomph when you need it, getting from 0-60mph in just 5.4 seconds (more than enough for most ‘make haste’ scenarios) but this isn’t a rocket ship like some electric SUVs.

This model has a huge 106kWh battery, making the Q8 e-tron capable of 322 miles on a full charge, although this invariably feels a little bit less once everything starts working. 223 miles seems etched in our minds after a week with the car, although that’s based on a sensible 80% charge amount. Nevertheless, the Q8 e-tron can handle a long motorway run with perhaps one charge on the way, which is going to be practical enough for anyone unless they have a cavernous bladder and no inkling for a frothy coffee along the way.

Keep the car in Comfort mode and you’ll find it gloriously easy to drive. Switch to Dynamic mode if you’re looking for some action when it comes to curvy bits, though expect battery range to naturally diminish faster as a result.

When it comes to charging, one issue that does occur with the Audi Q8 e-tron is getting it close enough to the charger in order for the cables to reach. In principle, Audi’s neat little fold-up doors at the back top edge of the front wings seem like a great idea. The drivers-side one offers DC connectivity, while the other side is just dedicated to slower, home-charging plugs. However, many public charging locations have wheel stops that prevent you driving too close to the charger – it’s a wise idea, but it makes edging the sizeable Audi Q8 e-tron close enough a bit of a chore.

In fact, a slightly angle-on approach is needed in some cases, which immediately raises the hackles of fellow charging folks, unless they too are driving an Audi. Even when you achieve it, the result is frequently a cable that feels too tight, which could you would think cause wear-and-tear issues with connectivity over the life of the vehicle. Getting around this issue means knowing which outlets don’t have the wheel-stops, which non-anorak EV charging customers won’t have the time or inclination to figure out. Once you can plug in though, charging the Audi is quick and simple.

The cockpit is a great place to spend time waiting too, with the roominess of the back seats proving an ideal office-on-the-move option if you’re travelling sans kids.

The technology

The Q8 e-tron contains lots of familiar tech if you’ve been in any of Audi’s other models recently. Central to the appeal is the way the 12.3in Virtual Cockpit contains all the everyday tools needed for happier motoring, with wonderfully crisp dials and a cracking head-up display giving everything you could want at a glance.

The main 10.1in touchscreen mid-dash has access to plenty of apps and functionality, though virtual controls take precedent over the still-preferred-by-many physical buttons and knobs.  

There are digital door mirrors too, which to be honest are the most disappointing tech-based aspects of this car. Anyone who’s experienced them on other models previously will find that Audi has not tweaked the design at all. As a result, the stubby cameras work well enough but the view displayed on the small screens in the doors have to rate as a failure. They’re too low and, while the resolution is crisp, they’re not easy to see. The issue doesn’t get better the longer your drive the car either, while at night and in rainy conditions they feel downright dangerous. Tech is great if it’s a help but these are a hindrance, plain and simple.

Elsewhere though, Audi has done a fabulous job with the interior technology and everything works as it should. Granted, the sat-nav can be finicky and often sends you on convoluted routes if you’re pitching it against Google Maps at the same time, so needs some setting up. You also need need to remember to tap and push screen icons in order to make functions work, unlike some touch-only variants.

Audi Q8 e-tron verdict

The Audi Q8 e-tron is a 2.5 tonne SUV, but sit behind the driver’s seat and it doesn’t feel like that at all. In fact, it comes across as cocooning, quick and agile when you’re driving on the back roads. Hit the highway and it’s a supremely comfortable cruiser, which with the decent range and oodles of space makes it a practical option for anyone with a family.

The catch is the asking price. If you like the idea, but have a rather more limited budget to think of then head for the Q4, which can be had for more sensible money.

Stuff Says…

Score: 4/5

This mighty electric SUV incorporates all the best bits of Audi design and tech, albeit for a ridiculously high price – and with one or two niggles

Audi Q8 e-tron technical specifications

Powertrain2x electric motors
Battery106kWh
Power402bhp
Torque489lb-ft
0-60mph5.4sec
Top speed124mph
Range322 miles
Charge rate170kWh
Cargo volume569 litres
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About

Rob is a freelance motoring journalist, and contributor to Stuff magazine and Stuff.tv

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