Audi Q8 Review
The Audi Q8 is a large SUV-coupe that oozes style and bristles with technology
Strengths & weaknesses
- Stylish coupe looks
- Powerful and efficient engine
- High level of standard equipment
- Fiddly controls
- No third row of seats
- Questionable ride and lifeless steering
Audi Q8 prices from £38,999 Finance from £505.83 per month
The Audi Q8 is for people who like their SUVs to be stylish rather than boxy and practical. It’s why it has a sloping roof and looks a little bit like a pumped-up coupe - on the lines of the BMW X6, Range Rover Sport and Velar, and Mercedes GLE.
It’s Audi’s most expensive SUV but it’s actually a little smaller than the car maker’s other imposing SUV, the Q7. What’s more, it doesn't have that car’s seven seats; it’s a five-seater only. However, it’s more desirable in terms of styling, equipment and technology.
Beginning with styling, in addition to a sloping roof it has frameless windows like a sports car, a full-width LED light strip at the back like a Porsche and an impressively large front grille.
The interior is equally impressive and borrows much from the new Audi A8 limousine. Smart piano black plastic and brushed metal trims abound, although they do creak a little when you prod them.
Star of the show is Audi’s new entertainment and controls interface featuring two touchscreens: a main 10.1-inch in the centre of the dashboard and a smaller 8.6-inch screen below it. You’ll look in vain for conventional switches and knobs. Everything is operated by light fingertip movements. If you like modern in-car technology you’ll love it but if your taste is more traditional, you’ll struggle.
Ahead of the driver is a 12.3-inch virtual cockpit display that provides all the vehicle and directional info you need. It’s extremely clear.
Like the Q7 there’s plenty of room in the front of the Q8. The rear interior is also spacious. Instead, where that sloping roof makes its presence felt is in the modest 605 litres of boot space that’s available and the fact there’s no third row of seats. They’re not an option, either. Spacewise the Q8’s boot lies between the BMW X6 and Mercedes GLE Coupe.
There are two trim levels but S-line, easily the biggest seller, has everything you could wish for including adaptive air suspension and driving modes. Vorsprung adds non-essential technology and at a price – £18,000.
There are two trim levels – and just one engine. At least the 3.0-litre V6 50 TDI motor is powerful and, thanks in part to hybrid technology, reasonably economical. It doesn't feel as fast as the performance figures claim but it is refined, as it should be. As standard it’s paired with full-time four-wheel drive for better grip in slippery conditions, and an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
In standard mode the Q8 is a comfortable cruiser and composed in corners but in Sport mode the ride becomes very hard. The steering feels disconcertingly light and is almost devoid of feel but it is accurate and responsive.
|Warranty||3 years/60,000 miles|
|Boot size||605 litres|
|Tax||£855 in the first year, £455 thereafter|
Understanding Audi Q8 names
Trim S Line
S line is an equipment level that’s familiar from other Audi models.
Engines 50 TDI
Unlike other car makers who identify their engines by their size, Audi identifies them by power, its argument being that, increasingly, engine size is no guide to power output. However, its system isn't very clear since it uses two digit numbers to express a range of power outputs. In the Q8’s case, 50 is a power range spanning 278hp to 304hp. The letters TDI mean turbodiesel injection and tell you it’s a diesel engine.
Quattro is Audi’s term for its four-wheel drive system. The Q8 is four-wheel drive as standard.
Tiptronic is Audi’s name for its automatic gearbox. The Q8’s gearbox has eight speeds.
Audi Q8 Engines
There’s just one engine but it’s a powerful 3.0-litre V6 producing 286hp – not that you’d know it from Audi’s badging policy.
It has another trick up its sleeve in the form of an electrical hybrid power system. This cuts in when the vehicle is coasting at speeds between 34mpg and 99mph, providing sufficient power for the engine itself to close down. Its battery is recharged when the vehicle brakes. Audi claims it improves fuel economy slightly.
The hybrid diesel engine powers all four wheels though an eight speed automatic gearbox offering a choice of fast and what Audi calls ‘soft’ gear change speeds.
Audi Q8 Trims
S Line, Vorsprung
Audi means business with the Q8 which is why at least for the moment, it offers it in just two trims with the cheapest, called S Line, having more than most buyers could ever need.
Over and above the usual things we’ve come to expect these days (dual-zone climate control, a sat nav, parking aids, powered tailgate, full connectivity and wireless charging and so on) notable features include huge 21in alloy wheels, adaptive air suspension, driving modes, adaptive matrix LED headlights, privacy glass and leather seats.
Vorsprung trim costs a hefty £18,000 more, or the price of a new Ford Focus. You’d expect the earth for that and to some extent this trim delivers with all-wheel steering, a panoramic glass sunroof, power-close doors, extra leather and a B&O sound system. It’s impressive stuff but the fact that there are few on the used market suggests that buyers aren't convinced.
Audi Q8 Reliability and warranty
The Q8 has a three-year/60,000 mile warranty, which is about par for vehicles in its class. Extended warranties are available, with four years’ cover costing £865 and five years’, £2080. In comparison, the large and well-equipped seven-seat Kia Sorento costs from £30,250 and has a seven-year warranty as standard.
Although, as a rule, Audis feel incredibly well built, tales of variable Audi reliability and quality are not unknown. The Q8 is another model that feels very well put together but it has enough advanced technology to make us concerned that its warranty isn't more generous.
Of equal concern is that in the latest 2019 Auto Express driver Power owner satisfaction survey, Audi models are rated towards the lower end of the chart. The exception is the Q5, the Q8’s smaller sibling, which charts around mid-table. The larger Q7 doesn't feature at all.
Used Audi Q8
Scarcity, disciplined marketing, a strong image, attractive styling and a powerful engine should ensure the Q8 doesn't become a used car giveaway.
Easily the most plentiful used Q8 will be the S Line, the Vorsprung being too expensive new to sell in big numbers.