The Audi Q8 was one much-anticipated car last year. It looked stunning in the photos, and the specs seemed good. You sure get a lot for your money with the Q8.
But really, what would it go like? Is it all bling with no substance? It’s been too long since we’ve had an Audi to review, and this was one I was really looking forward to.
There’s a total of one model in the Q8 range – the $149,900 quattro TDI – so this should be easy. Audi New Zealand have kitted it out pretty well, with a good list of standard features.
Powering the car is a twin-turbo, V6 diesel motor giving you 210kW of power and an excellent 600Nm of torque, starting at 2,250rpm. I like those numbers. There’s an 8-speed automatic gearbox behind the motor, with paddle shifters if you feel inclined.
Underneath the car, there’s adaptive air suspension fitted as standard to keep the car riding smooth.
There’s a relatively long list of standard features, then another long list of options to personalise your Q8. As standard, you’ll get adaptive cruise control with speed limiter, active lane assist with semi-automatic vehicle control in an emergency, pre-sense front collision avoidance with turn assist, lane change assist with exist warning system and rear traffic alert, automatic high beams, front and rear parking radar, a 360-degree camera system, front cross traffic assist, electrically folding and heated exterior mirrors with memory function and auto dimming.
But wait, there’s more. All Wheel Steering, LED DRLs, automatic headlights and wipers, roof rails, towbar prep, HD LED matrix headlights, LED rear lamps and indicators, two-zeon AC, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Audi Virtual Cockpit with 12.3” screen, auto-dimming and frameless rear-view mirror, heads-up display, keyless entry and start, electric luggage compartment cover, power tailgate, electric front seats with lumbar support and memory function for both front seats, heated front seats, electrically adjusting tilt/telescopic steering wheel, a 10.1” main central screen and an 8.6” lower central screen – both with haptic feedback.
You also get as a standard an Ambient Lighting Package, which includes contour as well as ambient lighting for the centre console, front and rear illuminated sill plates and interactive colour profiles.
There’s a multitude of wheel options starting at $4,000; a sports version of the adaptive air suspension, Night Vision Assistant, a panoramic roof, a Bang & Olufsen Advanced sound system, digital TV, and a heated steering wheel – as well as other options.
Our test car was fitted with the flat bottom steering wheel option (no cost), heated front and rear seats ($1,100), 4 zone AC ($2,250), 22” rims ($11,500) and the S Line exterior package at $8,000. The S Line package includes sports bumpers roof spoiler, trunk protection in stainless steel, S Line logos, door sill trims with S Line logo, headlight washers. Also thrown in are sports front seats, the sports air suspension option, inlays in matt brushed aluminium, headlining in black cloth, Valcona leather, and sports front seats with an embossed S Line logo. This moved the base $149,900 price up to $173,250.
It’s got to be said, it does look as good in real life as it does in photos. It seems smaller than the Q7, and in reality it is, being 66mm shorter (but is 27mm wider). That sloping back – almost a fastback – looks awesome, but you are left feeling it’s not going to be as practical as the Q7.
Then I opened one of the rear doors. Frameless doors? I was sold. I love frameless doors, and wish all cars had them. They just look so cool when you open them, even with the windows up.
This is a car that definitely turns heads. It seemed everywhere I went, people looked. Part of this might be down to the excellent, Navarra Blue colour of our test car, but I think more of it is because of the 22-inch rims that our test car was fitted with. While being a $11,500 option, they looked absolutely stunning, and hand on heart they are the best alloy wheels I’ve ever seen. They are intricate, but still simple and even at 22 inches still suited the car. I lurved them so much, and felt good every time I returned to the Q8, and spied those rims.
Time to get inside, and first impression? The steering wheel has a very flat bottom. We’re used to flat bottom steering wheels, but this one was almost at the extreme, like they’d lift the tape up higher than ever before where they started to flatten it out. Still, it feels good in your hands, and that’s the main thing.
Our review Q8 was all black inside, including the pillars and S Line option of cloth headlining, which did make it a little claustrophobic. A panoramic sunroof would have made a huge difference here. The finish on the doors has lashings of suede, which feels great to the touch and looks good too. Every passenger I had had a feel, and commented on the richness of it. In fact, most of the surfaces you can touch while sitting in the driver’s seat are quality materials, with very few hard plastics to be felt, as it should be in a car starting at $149,000.
There’s some fake wood on the doors and down the centre console. Thankfully it’s not over done or in your face, and adds that little touch of class.
There’s quite a bit of piano black in the interior, and on the passenger’s side of the dash is a laser-cut quattro emblem, that looks very cool indeed. It’s backlit too, and you can of course choose from a multitude of colours for the emblem, and the LED strip lights running down the sides of the doors.
At the rear of the centre console is a cubby, but it’s on the miniature side, with a Qi wireless charging pad for your phone, and then USB slots, and an SD card slot. Thankfully, the holder for your cellphone does hold the phone there while it’s charging. We’ve had some cars with Qi wireless charging capability, where the phone slides around and stops charging. There’s not much more room in here for anything else, maybe a wallet and that’s it. It’s a large centre console, but there’s no other storage in it.
If you do leave your phone on the charger, and then open the door to leave the car (as I have done many times) you do get a nice female voice reminding you, “your telephone is still in the vehicle”. This saved me more times than I’m going to admit.
The bottom-rear of the centre console is used up by the digital display panel for the rear passengers, allowing them to control their own heat settings, which the ability to have it different for left and right rear passengers. Our test car also had the optional rear heated seats, and these were controlled by the same panel.
There is another good-sized cubby on the right hand side of the steering wheel, so that’s one other place to store your junk. The glovebox is pretty reasonable in size too.
Speaking of the rear passengers – they are treated like royalty back there, with legroom bordering on limousine dimensions. You shouldn’t be getting any complaints from your rear passengers about being cooped up. There’s just the five seats in the Q8, but you can still slide the rear seats forward to give yourself more cargo room.
Not that you’ll need any – cargo room is pretty generous at 605 litres with the rear seats up. The rear seats slide front to rear as well, in case you need more space.
When you do open the electric tailgate, the parcel tray cover will electrically retract for you, then will put itself back when you close the tailgate. Handy stuff and it impresses friends no end.
Under the rear floor is a space-saver spare, that you need to pump up if you are going to use it, but there is a pump provided.
Got a big, heavy load to stick in the back of your Q8? Hit the ‘suspension lower’ button at the rear of the car to get the Q8 to drop down for you. You can raise it again if you want, but the car will return to its proper height (determined by the drive mode) when you start it, anyway.
On starting the car, your eyes are drawn to those two central displays – an upper display and a lower one. The clarity is simply excellent, to the point where it’s hard to believe they are displays. You can customise them a little too, with the ability to create shortcuts from certain things in the top display – like a favourite radio station – and have it set as its own button the lower display.
I’m not sure that Audi’s way of doing this is better or worse than say a C Class or S Class Mercedes Benz, but they work well and very quickly become second nature to use. You can’t ask for more than that.
You can pinch and zoom, drag, rotate (SatNav), on the touchscreens, as well as swiping left or right. It was quite handy when reversing to be able to rotate the car using your fingers on the screen.
The Q8 has an active driver’s display, meaning you can pick from a selection of items of what you want to see. I generally left it on SatNav, just because it always looks cool to have a full-colour, high-resolution map spread between the speedo and rev counter. I love that Audi have a single button on the steering wheel called, ‘view’. Hit this, and the speedo and rev counter shrink right down to make the map spread right across the display. Great stuff.
And really, you don’t need the speedo showing anyway, since you have the heads-up display (HUD) to view. I love a HUD, and like frameless doors, wish all cars would have them. One day.
I’ve got to say though, it was a bit of a mixed bag with the Q8 HUD. You get your speed shown and also any SatNav directions, but that’s pretty much it. I would have thought at least I’d see the current speed limit shown on the HUD, since the only way to drive safely is to not speed (so we are told), so this was a bit of a missed opportunity for me. You do get the current speed limit shown on the central display (not even the active driver’s display has it) but that’s too far away from the driver’s vision to be useful. Next update please, Audi.
One bonus that the HUD On the Q8 does do that many do not, is a collision indicator. Following too close? The car icon on the HUD will go red to warn you, and it’s big and bright enough to catch your eye. If you aren’t using adaptive cruise control, this is a fantastic safety feature.
Heading out of the dealership, I was immediately impressed with the ride. I thought 22-inch rims on 40-profile tyres would be a recipe for lots of sharp bumps, but the Q8 rides brilliantly well. I’m sure the adaptive air suspension helps a lot here, but it rides a lot better than it should.
As I rolled up to a red light, something happened that I would struggle to get used to during my week with the car; the auto engine-off function kicks in before you stop. I’m sure it’s great at saving diesel, but it feels so wrong. Okay, I did get used to it, but it still felt wrong to be gliding along with no engine running in a non-EV.
This ‘Intelligent Coasting’ feature isn’t just for getting to the traffic lights. The Q8 uses coasting where it can, at speeds from 55 to 160km/h.
Speaking of engines…yes, that V6 twin-turbo diesel is a gem. Almost always quiet – ridiculously so on the motorway – powerful, silky smooth. There’s not much more to say – it’s brilliant. It feels like a petrol V6 in some ways, and man, hit that gas pedal and it shoots off like a rocket when in Dynamic mode.
About that; you get your drive normal mode selection, like Comfort, Dynamic, Sport, Auto. But in anything but Dynamic, there is a pause from when you hit the gas pedal until when you start moving. I couldn’t put it down to turbo lag, since the engine hadn’t started doing anything yet.
This maybe a fuel saving feature, but it felt disconcerting sometimes to hit the gas, and then wait. I drove the car in Dynamic mode most of the week because of this. And hey, in Dynamic mode it boogies like a bat out of hell.
We expect a diesel to be good at low revs, and the Q8 does the rest of the range too; midrange acceleration is excellent, and passing cars on the open roads is a breeze. Floor it, and it goes.
The gearbox too did that thing that some do, when you accelerate out of a corner, and it hunts for a gear before picking one. Not the end of the world, but not something you’d expect in a high-end SUV.
I hit the motorway, and switched the adaptive cruise control on. I had a love/hate relationship with the cruise control on the Q8. Cruise control on a stalk? Not many like those, and it feels old fashioned. But the adaptive cruise on the Q8 is so intelligent in its operation, it takes my prize for being the smoothest I’ve come across. Too many times, adaptive cruise is jerky as it races up to a car, then (I exaggerate for effect) slams on the brakes. I wish I was joking, and don’t get me wrong – we all love adaptive cruise control, it’s such a safe way to travel. The Q8 has it sorted, with a super smooth drive when using it.
The cruise stalk on the Q8 also does the speed limiter, which I did use, but not too often. It works, it’s a nice to have but I don’t know of many people that use it when you have adaptive cruise to use.
I took the car out to Makara for a Sunday coffee – this is a windy road with tight corners. My wife was with me, and since she gets car sick easily (argh), I took it easy. I probably went faster than I’d go in another car, since the Q8 sits quite flat, even though it’s an SUV. No doubt that low profile tyres come in to play here. I never got the opportunity to drive it in anger on any twisty roads, but the AWD grip (let alone the grip from those 285/40 tyres) is certainly there and my gut feeling is it’d do just fine.
The Q8 comes with all-wheel steering, which means the rear wheels can turn up to a maximum of 5 degrees. At low speeds, turning circle is improved as the rear wheels turn in opposite direction to front. At high speeds, the handling and stability is improved, with the rear wheels turning in the same direction as front. Could I notice the difference? If I’m being honest, no. But the Q8 feels big, and it handles quite well, and parking wasn’t an issue for me. The turning circle on the Q8 is 12.2 metres, which is on the normal-to-high side for a vehicle this big, so it doesn’t look like all-wheel steering has improved this area. The jury is out on the all-wheel steering – I think we’d have to have the car for longer to get a good feel for it.
One thing I noticed on that drive though – this thing is wide. More than a few times, the Q8 was over the white lines in the centre of the road and over the white line on the left side of the car too. It felt big, especially when we came across a Highlander coming the other way. Part of this is down to the ‘quattro blisters’ – those rear guards are flared out to give you a hint of the original Audi quattro. And they do actually remind you of that car, but that does mean they stick out a fair way.
With full driver assist features turned on, one feature I really liked was the warning when you exceeded the speed limit for the road you were on. At first I couldn’t work it out what was going on, but then it clicked. When you exceed the speed limit too much, the accelerator pedal shakes a little under your foot. Yes, I did nearly soil myself the first time it happened, but after that? I appreciated it. It was a simple and effective way to know you needed to slow down. You can turn this off if you want.
As I said, the steering wheel feels great in your hands, and its controls are well designed too. After a day in the car, I never needed to look down again, they worked that well. It was just the right mixture of types of buttons and the way they moved. It all just worked, as it should. Another feature I loved? That there is a single button on the steering wheel that I could program to what I wanted. Excellent stuff, Audi. I set it to the 360-degree camera. Sure, there’s a button for this on the centre console, and the camera comes on when reversing, but when I wanted to see what was in front of the car, or simply where the white lines were, I could hit that steering wheel button and the camera came on.
One more observation on the steering wheel; your fingers can block the fuel and temperature gauges. These are on the extreme left and right of the dash, and either your fingers or the spokes blocked them. Not completely, but enough to be annoying. The Q8 has a pretty decent range with an 85-litre tank, but it was something I felt they’d got the design wrong on.
Speaking of the 360-degree camera, it has a party trick. You’ve got the camera on, you see an image of your Q8 on the screen, so you put your foot on the brake, and the brake lights on the screen come on. Switch on your left indicator, and the left indicator comes on on the screen car too. Pointless? A little, but passengers liked watching it.
Seat comfort is top class, and I could easily see myself driving to Auckland without any issues with the seats. All of them are great, although it would have been nice to have the vented seat option. Some days, getting back into the Q8 with that black leather seating…let’s just say it burned a little. Side support is good, but not great. I think if you were really chucking the car about on a twisty road, they’d struggle to hold you in.
The controls for the seat adjustments are on the seat bases, except for the electrically-adjustable cushion extension, which you must do from the centre screen. Our car didn’t have the massaging seat option, unfortunately.
SatNav is a doddle to use, simple and clear. You can enter an address using a swype type of system, but the onscreen keyboard is just as quick, if not quicker.
Naturally there’s blind spot monitoring (BSM) on the Q8, and Audi uses the system of a light on the inside of the exterior mirror body, instead of on the mirror glass itself. This is fine in general, but the BSM light itself was far too dim – a few times it was on, and I went to change lanes. Luckily a head check meant I saw a car there in my blind spot. These lights need to be brighter. They were great at night, but in the daytime they are difficult to see.
Noise wasn’t really an issue; the car is extremely quiet on motorway, with just a hint of wind noise from A pillars. The low-profile tyres were generally very quiet, except for coarse chip seal, which catches most tyres out.
I setup my own driver profile in the Q8; we’ve used these before in BMWs, Volvos and others. For the Q8, it means you can set your own AC, interior and exterior lighting, central locking, parking aids, driver assistance settings, seats, mirrors, steering wheel, HUD and instrument cluster preferences. That’s quite a list. When you go to start the Q8, it asks you via the driver’s display if your name is [insert your name here]. If you aren’t, you can select your preset profile and everything changes – just for you.
There’s electrically-assisted doors in the Q8, and they’ve made them quite the safety feature. If you open a door when the car is stopped and there is a vehicle coming alongside you, the LED strip lighting in the door will glow red as a warning, as well as the blind spot monitoring light on the front mirrors, if you are opening a front door. If you continue to open the door with the warnings, its opening will be delayed. This is great for kids getting out on the roadside of the car, who may not think to look first. I’m pretty sure there’s a few adults that do this too – I’ve certainly driven past my fair share.
Fuel economy? Audi suggests an overall rating of 6.8L/100km. Over my week with the Q8, I managed 8.2L/100km, which is a pretty average variation of what manufacturers claim.
|Towing capacity, unbraked/braked (Kg)||Number of seats||Cargo capacity, litres||Fuel L/100km||Base Price – High to Low|
|Range Rover Sport HSE Dynamic||V6 twin- turbo diesel||225kW/700Nm||NA/3,500||5||780||7.0||$161,900|
|Audi Q8||V6 twin- turbo diesel||210/kW/600Nm||750/3500||5||605||6.8||$149,900|
|Porsche Cayenne||V6 turbo petrol||250kW/450Nm||NA/3500||5||770||9.2||$147,800|
|Mercedes-Benz GLE 350d 4MATIC Coupe||V6 turbo diesel||190kW/620Nm||NA||5||NA||7.2||$146,900|
|BMW X6 xDrive30d||V6 turbo diesel||190kW/560Nm||750/3500||5||NA||6.0||$144,500|
The Pros and Cons
I struggle a bit with the buyers of the Q8 – you have to ask yourself, why not pay less money and go to the bigger, 7-seat Q7? Then again, if you don’t need/want 7 seats, and want something that has a real style about it, the Q8 ticks that box.
Then you look at the opposition. All 5 seaters, and yet, they still sell. There is a market for the Q8 after all.
Will the Q8 take buyers away from the likes of the BMW X6 or Mercedes-Benz GLE 350d? No one can say yet, but it may only take one drive.
The Audi Q8 is a worthy addition to the Audi New Zealand range – and it deserves to do very well.
2019 Audi Q8
Thank you to both the vendor and real estate company for the use of this property for our photo shoot.
|Vehicle Type||5-door, medium-large AWD SUV|
|Price as Tested||$173,250|
|Engine||V6 twin-turbo diesel|
|Transmission||8-speed sports automatic|
|0-100km/h, seconds||6.3 seconds|
|Spare Wheel||Space saver|
|Kerb Weight, Kg||2,145|
|Length x Width x Height, mm||4986x1995x1705|
|Cargo Capacity, litres||605/1755|
|Fuel Economy, L/100km||Advertised Spec – combined – 6.8|
Real World Test – combined – 8.2
Low Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+
|Fuel tank capacity, litres||85|
|Turning circle, metres||12.2|
Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+
|Warranty||3 year warranty|
12 year anti-corrosion warranty
|ANCAP Safety Ratings||5 star|