Things move fast in the world of electric cars.
Not content with falling behind the curve, the e-tron has been given a significant overhaul for 2024. Along with the new Q8 e-tron name, it’s been treated to a bigger lithium-ion battery for more range, a couple of bright new colours, and a revised steering and front suspension setup for a sharper drive.
Only the Q8 55 e-tron quattro will be offered at launch in Australia, although shorter-range 50 models and a faster SQ8 e-tron are due Down Under in 2024 to bolster the line-up.
Has Audi done enough to keep its electric SUV flagship relevant alongside the competition, or has the Q8 e-tron been left behind?
With a sticker price north of $150,000 before on-road costs, the Q8 e-tron is pricier than its big rivals from BMW and Mercedes-Benz for now. A cheaper e-tron 50 is coming in 2024.
The base Q8 55 e-tron quattro goes head-to-head with the Mercedes-Benz EQE 350 4Matic SUV ($144,900) and BMW iX xDrive40 ($135,900).
The Launch Edition and Sportback are priced in line with the more powerful, limited-run EQE 500 SUV ($164,900 ).
2024 Audi Q8 e-tron pricing:
- Audi Q8 55 e-tron quattro: $153,900
- Audi Q8 55 e-tron quattro Launch Edition: $165,900
- Audi Q8 Sportback 55 e-tron quattro: $165,900
Prices exclude on-road costs
You get the same solidly built, practical cabin as before.
Driver and passenger sit in comfortable seats trimmed in Audi’s basic leatherette in the entry level model, while the Sportback and Launch Edition get softer, more expensive Valcona leather wrapped around their sportier seats.
Given even the base e-tron 55 is a $150,000 car, real leather really should be standard.
There are three screens up front; one for your climate controls, one for infotainment, and one in place of traditional instruments. They’re all super crisp, with clean graphics befitting a electric SUV hero.
The 10.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system boasts wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to back the DAB, AM, FM, and Bluetooth inputs, and offers a satisfying haptic click whenever you press a button.
Wireless CarPlay is reliable, and the fact it’s paired with a fast wireless phone charger means you can live without cables most of the time. Dual USB-C ports are on hand up front to offer a faster charge if required.
Sitting below it is an 8.6-inch display for your climate controls. All the controls stay mostly where you left them, and the faux buttons use a haptic click to provide some feedback about what you’re doing. Good luck keeping the screen clean, though.
Finally, the driver is faced with a 12.3-inch screen capable of showing virtual dials, a gorgeous full-screen map, or a trip computer. Unlike the gimmicky displays available in some rivals, it shows what you need to know at a glance on the move – and looks great doing it.
Storage space up front is solid; most of it housed in the open space where the transmission usually sits.
Yes, you get the usual array of cupholders and a wireless phone charger, but there’s not really all that much more room for things than is offered in a Q5.
The door pockets are big enough to house an oversized drink bottle, and the under-arm storage bin has space for your garage keys and chewing gum.
At 4901mm long and 1935mm wide, the e-tron slots between the mid-sized Q5 (4689mm by 1893mm) and large Q7 (5063mm by 1970mm) crossovers. In practice, that plays out in a deceptive amount of rear seat and boot space.
Even with a panoramic sunroof and the Sportback’s sloping roofline, there’s enough headroom for six-footers in the rear, and the amount of legroom on offer means you’ll comfortably fit fully-grown adults behind fully-grown adults.
The wagon is better again, with even more headroom than the sporty-looking Sportback. Rear seat passengers are treated to air vents in the centre and on the B-pillars, and have their own temperature and fan controls.
Boot space is a claimed 569 litres with the rear seats in place, expanding to 1637L with them folded flat. The Sportback drops that to 528L, expanding to 1567L.
It’s a long, flat space that will comfortably swallow a pram and your weekly shop, although the sloping tailgate on the Sportback makes it less practical than the wagon if you’re carrying bulky items.
The powered tailgate needs quite a lot of space to fully open, something worth bearing in mind if you have a small garage.
All versions of the Q8 e-tron at launch pack a 114kWh lithium-ion battery pack.
It’s mated with dual electric motors, good for a combined 300kW of power and 664Nm of torque. Audi claims a 6.5-second sprint to 100km/h in standard mode or a 5.6-second run in Boost Mode.
Claimed range on the WLTP test cycle is 454km in the Q8 55 e-tron quattro wagon and Sportback, equivalent to 25.6kWh per 100km. We saw as low as 21.5kWh per 100km on a downhill highway run, and as high as 31.2kWh per 100km on a more spirited, uphill run at highway speeds.
Charging happens at 7.2kW hooked up to the standard AC charger plugged into a suitable home plug, although a 22kW AC charger is also offered as an option at Audi dealers. It can recharge at up to 170kW on a public DC fast charger.
Although that peak speed isn’t up there with the 230kW you get from the latest Hyundai and Kia products, nor the 270kW we’ve seen in a Porsche Taycan, the 10 to 80 per cent charge time is reasonably competitive thanks to the car’s charge curve.
Just like the pre-update car, the Q8 e-tron is quite, comfortable, and unremarkable.
It starts up silently, and Audi hasn’t bothered with contrived faux engine noises or spaceship sounds for when you accelerate.
With 664Nm of torque and all-wheel drive traction, it gets rolling faster than you’d expect of a heavy family SUV, but there’s no neck-snapping burst of performance when you put your foot down.
The way it squeezes you back in your seat will feel familiar to anyone who’s driven a mid-range diesel Q7, which feels apt.
Ride comfort is excellent. We drove cars riding on 20-inch and 21-inch wheels, and both do an excellent job smoothing out pimply stretches of tarmac in “Auto” or the more relaxed “Comfort” drive modes.
Air suspension is standard across the range, and neatly balances ride comfort with body control.
Occasionally big highway crests and dips can make the car feel very heavy, but Audi has made the right call erring on the side of comfort as standard. Flicking into “Sport” drops the ride (as does “Eco”) and tightens things up, but we’d be surprised if many owners bother given the standard setup is so nicely judged.
One of the biggest changes to the Q8 e-tron comes up front, where Audi has fitted a quicker steering ratio (14.6:1, down from 15.8:1) and stiffer anti-roll bars.
Less arm-twirling is required at low speeds than before, making it easier to scythe through tight city streets, and on flowing country roads the Q8 feels more direct than the e-tron it replaces.
It’s a very nice place to spend long periods of time, with hardly any noise from the tyres or mirrors sneaking into the cabin.
Audi’s active driver assists are also excellent. Adaptive cruise control smoothly maintains a gap to the car in front, and the active lane centring system confidently keeps the car between the white lines.
Turn it off and there’s still lane-keeping assist, which only intervenes if you stray towards the edge of your lane. The optional digital mirrors, on the other hand, remain more trouble than they’re worth.
Even once you’ve adjusted from looking up at the mirror unit to down into the door trims, their perspective on the move is a bit odd – and makes parking a challenge for anyone who uses the mirrors to place the car alongside poles or other vehicles.
If there was a huge range payoff for selecting them, we’d be on board. There isn’t though; the official range claim in Australia is the same across the line-up.
Q8 55 e-tron highlights:
Wheels, suspension, brakes, dynamics
- 20-inch alloy wheels in 5-arm aero style
- Adaptive air suspension
- Collapsible temporary spare wheel
- LED headlights and daytime running lights
- High beam assist
- Rear dynamic indicators
- Roof rails in aluminium
- Keyless entry and start
- Electric tailgate
- Leatherette upholstery
- Electric front seats incl. driver memory
- Heated front seats
- Dashboard upper, lower interior elements in leatherette
- Inlays in brushed aluminium, dark
- Dual-zone climate control
- Auto-dimming interior mirror
- Interior lighting package
- Leather steering wheel incl. shift paddles
- Headlining in lunar silver fabric
- Load sill protector in stainless steel
- Floor mats front, rear
- Storage and luggage compartment package
- 2 x cupholders in rear centre armrest
- Nets in luggage compartment
- 12.3-inch Audi virtual cockpit
- Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- 2 x USB ports front (charge, data transfer)
- 2 x USB ports rear (charge)
- Wireless smartphone charger
- 10 speakers
- DAB+ digital radio
- Head-up display
- Audi connect plus
Q8 Sportback 55 e-tron adds:
- 21-inch Audi Sport alloy wheels
- Sport front seats in Valcona leather
- 4-zone climate control
Q8 55 e-tron Launch Edition adds:
- 21-inch Audi Sport alloy wheels
- S line bumpers front, rear
- Black exterior styling package plus
- Roof rails in black
- S sport front seats in Valcona leather
- Diamond contrast stitching
- Embossed ‘S’ on front seats
- Integrated headrests for front seats
- Colour interior lighting package
- 30 selectable colours
- 6 colour profiles
- Sport leather steering wheel incl. shift paddles
- Electrically adjustable steering column incl. memory
- Headlining in black
- Pedals and footrest in stainless steel
- 22kW charger package: $6900
- Increases vehicle charge capacity up to 22kW AC
- Onboard charger up to 22kW AC
- Audi connect charging system (up to 22kW)
- 22-inch Audi Sport alloy wheels: $1600
- Adaptive air suspension sport
- Matrix LED headlights: $3300
- Virtual mirrors: $3500
- Black exterior styling package: $1900 (55 e-tron)
- Roof rails in black ($900 Sportback)
- Privacy glass: $1050
- Panoramic glass sunroof: $3400
- Bang & Olufsen 3D Sound System: $1750
The Q8 e-tron retains the pre-facelift model’s five-star ANCAP safety rating, based on 2019 Euro NCAP tests.
It scored 91 per cent for adult occupant protection, 88 per cent for child occupant protection, 71 per cent for vulnerable road users, and 78 per cent for safety assist.
Standard safety features include:
- 8 airbags
- Dual front
- Dual front-side
- Dual rear-side
- Dual side curtain
- Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)
- Vehicle to Vehicle (5-250km/h)
- Pedestrian, cyclist detection (5-85km/h)
- Turn assist
- Adaptive drive assist
- Adaptive cruise control with stop/go
- Distance indicator
- Traffic jam assist
- Lane guidance assist
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Exit warning system
- Front, rear parking sensors
- 360-degree cameras
- Collision avoidance assist (evasive steering)
- Rear cross-traffic assist
The Q8 e-tron is covered by Audi’s five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.
Buyers of the Q8 e-tron, like the e-tron before it, also score a six-year unlimited subscription to the Chargefox public charger network, as well as six years of complementary scheduled servicing and six years of roadside assistance.
The updated Q8 e-tron doesn’t move the game forward, but it has been meaningfully upgraded relative to the e-tron before it.
The bigger battery pack brings about more range, and the updated steering and front suspension deliver a more planted feel. It’s a better looking car than before, and the interior remains nicely assembled.
But it’s a bit… dull alongside what you get from its German rivals. The Mercedes-Benz EQE SUV offers a flashier interior and similar range for similar money, while the BMW iX stands out in a crowd thanks to its polarising design.
If you’re hopping out of a Q5 or Q7, the Q8 e-tron makes for a logical step into the world of electric power. It’s just nice to drive, and there’s something very appealing about its quiet competence.
But even after an update, it struggles to really stand out from the crowd.
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