2020 Audi Q8 review

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Does it spice up the luxe coupe-SUV segment?

Going purely by Audi’s numerical chronology, one would assume the Q8 is the Q7’s elder sibling Q7, the big daddy to the Q5 and the grand-dad to the Q3. In reality though, the Q8 is more of a colonial cousin to these with different sensibilities. Marc Lichte, the new design head at Audi has been perfecting the Q8’s lines for some time now, as it was first showcased as a concept in January 2017 and is the SUV that defined the Ingolstadt-based car maker’s new design language. It’s  a four-door, five-seater offering in the coupé-SUV space with a sloping roof line and neatly put frameless doors, which make it look quite eccentric in its segment.

 

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It looks expensive, distinctive and feels premium inside out. The rear end is reminiscent of the Porsche Cayenne, though with that said, the Q8’s chunky C-pillar bears a very strong resemblance to the original Audi quattro rally cars. The tail light are connected by a single, uninterrupted line from one end to another and lights up gorgeously when you tap on the brake pedal, making for a very distinctive appearance even from a distance. The front with its wide-mouthed single frame grille featuring  the quattro moniker, surrounds itself in a mesh of HD Matrix LED Headlights – when you unlock or lock the car, the indicators perform the Mexican wave dance. That’s not all though – when you unlock the car in a dark parking lot from far off, the headlights come on animatingly and help you navigate yourself to the car. The Q8 is also high on tech and is equipped with a 48-volt mild hybrid system, which uses a lithium-ion battery placed in the boot that feeds a water-cooled steroidal starter motor up front. It helps the Q8 sip fuel rather than guzzle, apart from integrating an improved and smoother start-stop function, as also giving the IC engine a boost whilst reducing turbo lag. Of course, the bigger highlight though is that you effectively end up with reduced CO2 figures (178g/km), resulting in a far smaller carbon footprint towards global warming. For a car weighing over 2 tonnes as also its sheer size, that’s a great feat achieved!

Audi claims the Q8 will gallop to the 100 kmph mark in 5.9 seconds. We tested it and recorded 6.06 seconds, that’s really quick and for an SUV of its size, a light dab on the gas pedal is more than enough for a speedy overtake almost anywhere. It’s a natural cruiser and builds speeds without letting you realise while you revel inside the luxe cockpit. But the moment you switch to Dynamic mode things change and you instantly realise the surge of power is a lot stronger, but somewhere lacking a little in the mid-range. It’s fun shifting gears via the paddle shifters, but if you’re expecting the V6 to roar, you will have to settle with  a burble. There’s an off-road mode at hand too, which increases ride height by 50mm as compared to the Comfort/Standard modes, in case you decide to potter down an off-road track or navigate our often crater-sized pothole-ridden roads.

Around bends, the quattro system aka all-wheel drive kicks in and helps you go quicker in sync with the all-wheel steering system. Of course, the optional 21 inch rims (the Q8 ships with 20 inchers as standard) offer more confidence when piloting enthusiastically, while also helping the Q8 look more arresting. Our test car was also equipped with the optional massage and ventilation function. I particularly liked the way your back and shoulders get massaged, besides which, and the Q8 offers plenty of legroom everywhere. It’s also very wide – a shade under 2 meters, which makes it very spacious but also results in some blind spots. Coming to the interiors and tech inside, let’s start with the high-definition, triple-wide-screens, caged under a shiny piano black dash. The dash looks and feels expensive but can be quite a fingerprint magnet, unless you are Jason Statham donning a pair of driving gloves and playing Transporter. The clicky haptic feedback on the touchscreen is a little intimidating at first but is not one of my favourites, and the good news is it can be turned off.

Adaptive air suspension, a panoramic sunroof, park assist, head-up display, seat heating and ventilation, rear wheel steering and an incredible-sounding 1,920W Bang & Olufsen hi-fi system is expected of a car north of 1 crore and all these are really top notch in the Q8. The leather wrapped seat belts and soft touch finishes on the panels and inlays just proves that microscopic attention has been given to every detail to ensure the Q8 ticks all boxes for an uber-luxe SUV. If you are the types who like to be driven around at times, which I assume you would given our city traffic, there are button controlled sunblinds, a huge panoramic sunroof, four-zone climate control, manually adjustable recline for the rear seats for and of course copious amounts of legroom and headroom. That’s despite the fact that it’s a coupe’. Its best suited for two passengers at the back and there‘s acres of space but for a third person to be squeezed in the transmission bump cutting across the middle seat will come in the way of comfort. The large boot offers 605 litres of volume and is wide and deep, but still not tall enough to accommodate a large trolley bag as you can’t fit one in vertically. Yes, the blocky Q7 is bigger with 7 seats but you don’t buy a Q8 for that – it’s just more practical and useful.

The Q8 is a signature buy and makes a bold statement sitting in your garage. It isn’t for everyone and Audi has made that quite clear. It’s not a sportscar nor a full-sized SUV – it has a league of its own and hypes up the coupe-SUV segment, delivering exclusivity to your garage. Its a gripping car from Audi that will command your attention, whichever angle you look at it from.

 

ENGINE 3.0-litre, 48V mild-hybrid, V6 turbo-petrol
POWER 340 hp
TORQUE 500Nm
TRANSMISSION 8-speed tiptronic/automatic
PRICE 1.33 crore (ex-showroom, India)