Audi Q8 India Review: All You Need To Know

The Q8 is Audi’s new top-of-the-line SUV. It sits, as its name suggests, above the Q7 and next to the A8 and R8, which are the brand’s other two top cars. It’s not quite as long as a Q7 and only has five seats, but it’s lower, wider, and built on the same wheelbase. It also has a “slammed” roof, which makes it a unique type of car.

It plans to stand out among SUV coupés like the BMW X6, Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe, and, more recently, the Porsche Cayenne Coupe by giving buyers a huge number of ways to customise their cars. This is possible because the Q8 is a CBU import, and Audi promises that no two customers will get cars that look exactly the same. Customization comes with a four-month wait, but if you can’t wait that long, Audi India will have a selection of Q8s that have already been customised for you to choose from.

What does the outside look like?

The other thing that makes it stand out is that it is the first of a new generation of Audi SUVs, such as the next-generation Q3 and the updated Q7, that will soon be coming to India. The pictures don’t show how great the Q8 is. For one thing, it’s bigger than you might think. Also, at first glance, it might look like just another Audi SUV, but there are a lot of little things that make it really stand out. The grille, for example, is the typical large, octagonal “single-frame” Audi grille, but its pronounced frame makes it look like Hannibal Lecter’s muzzle. You can change the frame, the slats, and even the area around the air intakes on the bottom.

The headlights are the usual angular Matrix LED units, but the DRLs are different, and when you unlock your Q8, they and the taillights do a little light dance. The bulging rear haunches are a nod to the Ur Quattro rally car, and Audi’s take on the coupé roofline is unique because it doesn’t have that curved, hunchbacked shape.

Instead, it gets smaller and smaller until it hits the C-pillar, where it drops sharply. Lastly, the huge wheels and tyres (20s are standard, but the 21s and 22s you see here are options) give it a wide, low stance. It’s not a design I liked when I first saw it, but it’s gotten to me over the course of the day. This is a great way to make a point.

What’s it like inside?

After the 2019 A6, the interior may not be as new, but it’s still very nice. Here, too, you have a lot of ways to make it your own. You can mix and match between 11 upholstery colours and 9 inlay trims. Audi’s new dashboard design just screams “tech” with its glossy black winged trim and dual MMI touchscreens, which we’ll talk about in a moment. The only problem is that it’s at an angle that makes it hard to see in the afternoon when the sun is at its brightest. Fit and finish have always been Audi’s strong suit, and while others have caught up, the quality of the materials and the way they are put together in this car are almost perfect.

There are three screens. The first one is the newest version of Audi’s Virtual Cockpit digital dials, which were the first of their kind. You can’t make changes to this car like you can with some competitors, but it’s so well-made and designed that we doubt you’d want to. The other two screens are a bit more controversial. The dual MMI infotainment unit moves almost all of the functions from the centre console to two touchscreens. The one on top is pretty standard. It controls navigation, music, the phone, the car’s settings, and other things like that. The one below it controls the climate, the seat, and a few other driver features.

With almost every function now on the screen, you’ll spend a lot of time looking down and away from the road. The climate control and driving modes are the ones you’ll be looking at the most. Audi has built in a haptic feedback system that gives you a tactile and audible “click” when you do something. However, this means that you have to tap the screen quite hard, which isn’t what you’re used to with a touchscreen. Still, you can’t argue with how nice it looks and how many features it has.

When it comes to features, the Q8 comes with a lot of great ones as standard, including HD Matrix adaptive LED headlamps, adaptive air suspension, a panoramic sunroof, parking assistant, and a 1,920W Bang & Olufsen sound system that sounds amazing. At the price of the Audi Q8, it should be, but there are still a few options on top of this, like four-zone climate control instead of dual-zone, a head-up display, heated, ventilated, and massage seats, and rear-wheel steering, to name a few.

This car has great front seats that can be changed in a lot of ways, such as by adding side bolsters and extending the squab. But the buttons on the side of the seat only let you do basic things. If you want to adjust the seat further or use the heating, cooling, or massage functions, you have to – you guessed it – use the touchscreen.

The back seat is a surprise because it has a lot more room than you would think. Since there is no third row, there is a lot of legroom, and even though there isn’t as much headroom as in a regular SUV, there is more than in most other SUV-coupés because of how the roof is made. You get spoiled with things like a panoramic sunroof and automatic sunshades, but the seat itself could have been more comfortable. The trunk is also big, with over 600 litres of space, but the loading lip is quite high, and big suitcases stacked upright could hit the tailgate because it slopes down.

What’s it like to drive?

So, it’s almost as luxurious as its limousine sibling, the A8, but could it really match the performance of an R8? Of course not, but the V8-powered RSQ8 with 600 horsepower, which is likely to come out later, is a lot closer. Still, with these looks, you’d expect some sportiness. A 3.0-litre turbo-petrol V6 with 340hp and 500Nm of torque sound pretty good. The claim that this 2.1-ton SUV can go from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.9 seconds sounds even better, but can it do it?

When we tested it, it got from 0 to 100 miles per hour in 6.07 seconds, which is not too far from what was promised. In reality, though, it doesn’t feel very athletic, because the power builds up quickly but calmly. The numbers show that it’s not slow, but it doesn’t feel fast either. It lacks the mid-range thwack that you’d get from Audi’s 3.0-litre V6 diesel, which we’re going to miss a lot. Even when you rev it up, it doesn’t sound very sporty. All you hear is a far-off mechanical churn.

But this powertrain works best when you’re not going as fast as you can. Reach over and look around for the Drive Select icon at the far end of the lower touchscreen. Switch from Dynamic to Comfort and drive the Q8 55 TFSI at eight-tenths, and it feels much more at home. When you do this, you realise how good ZF’s 8-speed automatic has become in 2020. It is just as happy slamming through the gears at a breakneck speed as it is slipping through them quietly in traffic. Then you’ll see that this engine is very refined and gives out power very smoothly at all revs.

What really shocks people is how good the ride is. Large SUVs like this one, which have air suspension and big wheels and tyres, tend to feel bumpy and unstable, but Audi got it right with the Q8. In Dynamic mode, the air suspension isn’t too soft or floaty, but it also doesn’t get too uncomfortable. Our test car has 285/45 R21 tyres on 21-inch wheels, and there is still a good amount of rubber around the rim (an indication of just how massive this car really is). This means that they are surprisingly good at absorbing sharp hits, like when a car hits the edge of a pothole.

Most of the time, handling suffers when a car has a great ride, but Audi has done a great job of balancing things out. You have to have the suspension in the “Dynamic” mode, but the body control is really good. Only a Porsche Cayenne does a better job. Still not up to par, and this is starting to sound like a cliche, is the steering, which isn’t as sharp or responsive as you’d like in a car of this type and price. Still, it makes up for it in part because the optional rear-wheel steering gives it a lot of agility. It takes away a lot of the weight of this car from behind the wheel and makes it much easier to turn.

You can check out our latest video also: Detailed walkaround of Audi Q8

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