By : RACHNA TYAGI
You may remember our review of the e-tron 55 Quattro from July 2021 (If you haven't read it, you can do so by clicking on the link: https://www.turnofspeed.in/review/in-a-league-of-its-own.html) where we called the “intelligent” and “fully connected” SUV a “stellar offering” from Audi. Now, in 2023, the German carmaker has introduced the Q8 e-tron, and while there are only a few changes this time around, Audi, continues to bring something super exciting for its ardent fans, thereby upping its game even further. The Q8 e-tron happens to be one of the finest luxury EV offerings out there and for all those who’re seeking something rather extraordinary, we’ll say that checking this one out is definitely going to be worth your while. We recently took the Q8 e-tron for a spin around Nandi Hills, in Bangalore, and came back super-charged with its shattering performance. Here’s what makes this EV so special…
Available in two body styles, the SUV and the Sportback, both have ‘almost’ identical tech specs…more on that in just a bit. Now, if you’ve been following my articles over the years, you’ll know that I dig Sportbacks, however, I must say that the Q8 e-tron SUV looks really enticing as well ours was a Mythos Black (Metallic) … it was designed in a way to not be a radical departure from its similar looking ICE siblings and leaned towards the Q7 in terms of its looks. In fact, when I saw both the body types (SUV and Sportback) on the stage, I’ll admit, that it was the SUV, that spoke to me. Of course, needless to say, the Sportback, is also a handsome vehicle, and it’s 0.24 drag coefficient as compared to the 0.27 Cd of the SUV definitely adds to the lure, but we’ll keep that one for another day.
While there’s much that remains unchanged from the 2021 e-tron, this is 2023 and could Audi possibly introduce the Q8 e-tron without giving their fabled electric SUV some new tweaks? Me thinks not! And so, here’s a quick look at what immediately caught our eye on the new SUV. For starters, the front fascia has received quite a few changes with the most obvious change being the front grille. While the old grille looked more industrial, the new grille’s softer design looks more appealing, however, neither of the grilles make for easy cleaning but then, when you’re spending upwards of a crore to park this handsome SUV in your garage, cleaning the grille is probably the least of your worries. Moving on, the second obvious change is the logo which is now a 2D logo. Just above the 2D logo sits an elegant singleframe projection light that draws attention and gives the Q8 e-tron a very premium look. The third obvious change is to the air-intakes which are bigger and real, allowing for air to pass through, thereby helping with the aerodynamics. We loved the badging on the pillars and thought it was quite an innovative place to display it. The Digital Matrix LED lamps on the Q8 e-tron have a good throw and driving at night should be a hassle-free experience. Besides, both sides of the SUV get charging flaps so you don’t have to worry about turning your car around the other way; also, grappling with charging cables is a thing of the past, everything is well-thought out so that you have a smooth charging and consequently ownership experience. The diamond-turned alloys that come shod with R20s look stunning and are a perfect fit for the Q8 e-tron. Also, you can’t miss the red calipers that lend a hint of sportiness to the SUV.
Look at the cabin of any Audi and you’ll know instantly that you’re in for a treat. Inside the Q8 e-tron, just as you enter, the scuff plates give out a first-class feel and inside, everything looks and feels so premium that you really want to make it your home. Whether it is the super comfortable power-adjustable seats with memory and massage function (For front seats, both) with a sturdy headrest or their virtual cockpit with its sharp display or their Bang & Olufsen sound system with 3D sound and 16 speakers, or the fantastic haptic feedback that you get each time you interact with the glass panel of the infotainment system, or the privacy blinds for the rear seat passengers or the panoramic sunroof, just about everything inside the Q8 e-tron screams ‘quiet luxury’ which is just apt for this ‘quiet EV.’ And just sitting behind the steering of this brilliant car feels like you’ve been catapulted into another sphere altogether. The use of rich materials such as suede, leather and matte brushed aluminum never let you forget that you’re seated in a very plush EV. Audi can be praised to the skies for almost everything that they do right with their cars and while their Quattro drive is in a completely different league altogether, it is really their quality of materials, especially inside their cabin, that truly deserves special mention. Also, what is remarkable is the fact that there is absolutely no compromise on the quality of the interiors on their cars that they sell in India and everything is just absolutely top-notch which is why it is no surprise that their cars command top dollar.
However, it is not merely the looks of Audi cars that entices buyers; rather it is the alluring combination of sportiness as well as of luxuriousness that holds sway when buyers pick an Audi. Sure, there are other equally good or perhaps, one may argue, even better EVs out there, but often, many a carmaker get weighed down by their rich legacy and invariably it becomes difficult to break free from the shackles of tradition, and therefore it becomes quite a task to be different and relevant in today’s era with your electric offering. Audi, in my opinion, has managed to walk this tightrope rather well and doing a fine balancing act and the e-tron is a perfect example of it.
So, what does the Q8 e-tron drive like? Let’s just say that this ‘Permanent AWD Quattro’ is one helluva blazingly fast SUV despite its 2560 kg kerb weight that puts out 408hp and 664 Nm of torque. The leather-wrapped ‘Progressive steering’ of the Q8 e-tron is direct and accurate and a real joy to maneuver. This 4901 mm long and 1935 mm wide SUV is a sheer joy to drive around and it is really incredible how you never feel that you’re driving something this long and wide because every aspect of the Q8 e-tron’s build quality and design are so well-thought out that driving it becomes second nature, almost instantly. Those R20’s grip the tarmac well and you feel very confident in reaching triple digit speeds really fast, it is a 5.6 second EV afterall and in case you stray from your lane, the lane departure warning gets to work to ensure, you’re reminded of your folly. Also, it must be said that throughout our drive, we never experienced any body-roll whatsoever, and that is indeed commendable, given the SUV’s size. The 114 kW battery that has been bolted underneath the SUV provides not just steadiness by centering the weight but also a 600km (WLTP) range and that is enough to take care of range anxiety for jumpy drivers, such as yours truly. While it gets 170 kW DC charging, the Q8 e-tron also gets a 22 kW on-board charger so that you never run out of juice. However, it is the Adaptive air suspension that is the real hero of this story which enables you to raise or bring down the ground clearance of the Q8 e-tron by +50 mm and -26 mm, depending on the kind of driving that you’re indulging in, and the type of surface that you’re driving the Q8 e-tron on. While this may not seem like much, one thing to always bear in mind is that the Q8 e-tron is not an ICE vehicle, instead, the fact that Audi is able to offer all of this on an EV is no mean feat.
Driving the Q8 e-tron is a truly unmatched and sublime experience. Whether you’re driving the SUV really fast or just ambling about in it at low speeds, you know that you’re seated in an SUV that is so unbelievably futuristic that it just fills you with awe and admiration at the thought of what the future of driving will soon look like when many of the technologies present on the Q8 e-tron will permeate down in some form or the other onto smaller and more affordable cars that many of us will use as daily drivers. Features such as ionizer and aromatization and four-zone climate control system, besides others, show the deep thinking that has gone behind designing and building this luxurious and futuristic EV.
Also, for your safety the Q8 e-tron gets eight airbags, TPMS and anti-theft wheelbolts and loose wheel warning! Besides there’s also Audi Pre-Sense Basic which closes the windows and pretensions the front seatbelts of the driver and the co-passenger when it detects a collision. Whatever the scenario might be, Audi has you covered. Seriously, is there anything else that you could possibly ask for from an EV?
And that’s not all. For all those who’re looking for customization options, Audi is offering 19 touchpoints inside the car that can be customized so that your luxe EV truly feels like your own! So, if you’re in the market for an EV that is not just luxurious but also drives splendidly, you should definitely check out the Q8 e-tron. We’re pretty sure that once you’ve driven this handsome EV, it will steal your heart, and before you know it, you’ll find yourself signing on the dotted line to drive it home.