2019 Audi Q8: The New Face of Audi SUVs

Strong points
  • Sportier style than the Q7
  • Very roomy
  • Mild hybrid technology
  • User-friendly infotainment system
  • Exemplary quality of assembly and finish
Weak points
  • Heavy weight
  • Price range is sure to be high
  • Price of options
  • Barely sufficient engine power
Full report

BMW has the X6, Mercedes-Benz has the GLE Coupe, and now Audi will introduce its Q8 to Canada in the first quarter of 2019. Foreshadowed by the Q8 sport concept unveiled at the Geneva Auto Show in March 2017, the new Q8 borrows several features from the recent A6, A7 and A8. It shares the same platform with the Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus, which also fall under the Volkswagen Group.

The Q8 is shorter, lower and wider than the Q7, but the two vehicles have an identical wheelbase that measures nearly three metres. From a style perspective, the Q8 ushers in the new face of the brand’s SUVs, with a wider and lower grille featuring six vertical chrome bars and an outline that matches the body on the base version or comes in platinum grey on the S line versions.

Note the flares above the fenders, the trapezoidal shape of the C-pillar and the black strip that connects the tail lights, all of which are reminiscent of the legendary 1985 Audi Sport Quattro. The Q8’s proportions are more balanced than those of the Q7 and the rift between the two is pretty spectacular.

Photo: Tobias Sagmeister

Very spacious

From a practical point of view, the new Q8 now offers more space than its direct rivals, with more than satisfactory legroom for the rear passengers thanks to the very generous wheelbase. The cargo volume is 605 litres with all seats in place and 1755 litres when the rear seatbacks are lowered. The power hatch comes standard.

The dashboard borrows its three digital screens from the recent A8, A7 and A6. The first is the Audi virtual cockpit that replaces the conventional instrument cluster. The other two are high-definition colour touchscreens with acoustic and haptic feedback. The 10.1-inch upper screen acts as the interface with navigation, infotainment and communication functions, while the 8.6-inch lower screen controls the climate control system, heated and ventilated seats and activates certain devices like the hill descent control system. There are two USB ports as well as SIM card and SD ports under the central armrest.

Quiet, we’re driving!

We tested the Q8 in the Atacama Desert and our trip saw us travel more than 4000 metres in altitude. The Q8 proved very quiet on the deserted back roads, even as our speed flew well above the 100 km/h mark. It’s particularly impressive when you consider that the doors are devoid of frames and acoustic glass. The large rearview mirrors are streamlined, making the ride that much quieter.

The only engine available in Canada is the 340-horsepower twin-turbo V6 – the same one that equips the A8, A7 and A6. It’s paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. Considering the Q8’s sportier purpose, the power and torque of this engine seemed barely sufficient for a vehicle that weighs 2175 kg (more than two metric tonnes).

Did the thinner air at high altitude play against the Q8 and its twin-turbo engine? I can’t help but think that this vehicle should have gotten the A8’s twin-turbo V8, especially since its purpose is to offer a sportier, more dynamic ride than the Q7. More on that another time.

Wondering about fuel consumption? We recorded an average of 11.3 litres per 100 kilometres on a rather atypical route. The Q8 features the 48-volt electrical system and mild hybrid device developed for the manufacturer’s recent A8 luxury sedan. This mild hybrid system uses an alternator/starter and a lithium-ion battery to recover kinetic energy during braking and recharge the battery. The stored energy can then be deployed during acceleration or used to help maintain cruising speed, which helps reduce fuel consumption.

Photo: Tobias Sagmeister

The Q8 has three possible suspensions. The first is made up of conventional steel springs and adaptive dampers. The other two are adaptive air suspensions that help lower the body at highway speeds to improve aerodynamics or raise it up to 50 millimetres for driving on trails.

The Q8’s handling is configurable using Audi drive select. It helps calibrate the ride with seven different modes, including one called Individual, which lets you customize the settings. This is the most interesting mode because it lets you opt for more dynamic calibrations for the steering, accelerator response and gearbox, all while setting the adaptive suspension to Comfort mode.

This was the mode that we used most of the time, except when we went off road and repeatedly crossed a river—Offroad mode made more sense for that. The Q8’s ride is much more dynamic than that of the Q7 due to its faster steering and optional four-wheel drive system.

More dynamic and sportier than the Q7, the Q8 helps Audi broaden its horizons in the SUV segment. With this vehicle, Audi is making up lost ground to compete against its direct rivals who already offer coupe-like SUVs. Since the Q8 won’t arrive in Canada until 2019, the price range is as yet undetermined. However, it is expected to cost about 5% more than the Q7, which means we can anticipate a starting price of about $75,000.

Share on Facebook

More on the subject

New ModelsAll-New 2019 Audi Q8 Makes Global Debut
Following the Q8 Concept of late 2016 and a recent mini-series of videos titled #Q8unleashed, the all-new 2019 Audi Q8 made its anticipated global debut yesterday at the Audi Brand Summit in Shenzhen, China. It’s another one of those coupe-style SUVs from Germany, and it offers seating for five, advanced …
DetroitAudi Q8 concept, a new rival to the BMW X6
Audi is starting 2017 in a big way by unveiling an all-new SUV at the Detroit Auto Show, the Audi Q8 concept, which will be the inspiration for a production Q8 in 2018. The Audi Q8 will blend the dynamic styling of a coupe with the versatility of an SUV.
New ModelsAll-New 2019 Audi Q3 is Like a Mini-Q8
Remember the sensational Audi Q8 crossover that debuted in late spring as the brand’s new flagship crossover—and which we tested in Chile’s Atacama Desert ? Well, it looks like it just had a baby. Meet the fully redesigned, second-generation 2019 Audi Q3. The smallest SUV in the lineup has gotten …
ElectricAudi e-tron Impresses at Pikes Peak Ahead of World Debut
Every new vehicle undergoes a wide array of tests before it hits the market and the upcoming Audi e-tron, the brand’s first all-electric SUV, has just delivered an impressive performance at Pikes Peak—only instead of climbing up the famous Colorado mountain, it spent time going downhill. Audi says the e-tron …
Spotlight on2019 Audi Q3: Tested This Week
The Car Guide is on its way to Bolzano, Italy for the first drive of the new second-generation Audi Q3 SUV. Completely redesigned, and looking very much like a smaller version of the stylish new Q8, the new Q3 is larger than the outgoing model and comes loaded with new …
First Drives2019 Audi Q3: Premium Class, Compact Size
Bolzano, Italy – With the second-generation Q3, Audi has created a compact SUV that is loaded with tech, and qualifies as a genuine premium vehicle with a cabin that is unmatched for refinement in this segment. More on that later, but first, here are the basics. The new Q3 is …
NewsThe Car Guide’s 2019 Best Buys: Audi Q7 and Q8
The midsize luxury SUV segment is filled with models that serve up performance, opulence and style, to the point where it’s hard for consumers to make a sound purchase decision. The Car Guide makes the process easier with its annual Best Buys in this market segment, in addition to all …
First Drives2020 Audi Q7: Looking Sharp a la Q8
KERRY, Ireland— On the super-tight roads that make up the Ring of Kerry in Ireland, the remains of mirror caps here and there suggest frequent clashes between cars rented by tourists and sightseeing buses. The landscape is breathtaking, but the drive is far from relaxing as you must often steer …
First Drives2020 Audi RS Q8: Green Hell’s Fastest SUV
Nürburgring Nordschleife, Germany— Somewhere between the famous Pflanzgarten and Schwalbenschwanz bends, the new Audi RS Q8 goes up in the air as Frank Stippler jumps the rumble strip at the apex of a left turn sitting on a ridge. Strapped to the passenger seat next to him, I’m extremely impressed …
Los Angeles2020 Audi RS Q8 Unveiled with 590 Hp and Wicked Looks
With the Audi Q8 now positioned as the brand’s flagship SUV, it was only natural that a high-performance RS variant would follow. The world premiere of the new 2020 Audi RS Q8 took place today at the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show . This wicked, coupe-style SUV shares its twin-turbocharged …