Autolist rating: 4/5
But would we buy it? Yes
Price range: $68,395 - $77,545, including destination but before options
- All-new crossover coupe model from Audi that’s based on the Q7.
- Aimed at the BMW X6 and Mercedes GLE Coupe.
- Excellent balance of space and style.
- Is a little numb to drive overall.
- Boasts a gee-whiz interior full of cool -- and functional -- touchscreens.
What is it?
The Q8 is an all-new five-passenger crossover SUV from Audi. It rides on the same platform as the cheaper -- but family-oriented seven-passenger Audi Q7, as well as other crossovers in the Volkswagen Group family including the Lamborghini Urus, Bentley Bentayga and Porsche Cayenne.
The Audi Q8 is a more stylish and upscale (i.e. expensive) crossover than its Q7 sibling and thus, it charges more for the experience; The Q8’s base price of $68,395 is about $7,500 more than the Q7 with the same engine.
The Q8 is aimed squarely at other form-over-function crossover coupe models like the BMW X6, Porsche Cayenne and Cayenne Coupe, Range Rover Sport and Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe.
The Q8 comes with a single engine choice at the moment: a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that Audi is using in a variety of its latest models. In the Q8 it makes 335 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission with a manual shifting mode and permanent quattro all-wheel-drive.
Compared to the Q7, the five-seat Q8 has the same wheelbase but is about three inches shorter overall, an inch and a half lower and it has about two and a half feet less of cargo room when all seats inside are folded. The Q8’s rear seats also have more legroom than the middle seats in the Q7, since there isn’t another row behind the Q8’s rear seats.
The Q8 is available in three trim levels: Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige.
A diesel performance model called the SQ8 will arrive in Europe soon while the U.S. market is expected to get a performance SQ8 in 2020 with a turbo V6 from the S6 and S7 that makes 450 horsepower.
TLDR: Roomy, stylish and packing a sweet interior.
Spacious. Despite losing a row of seats to the Q7 in the name of style, there’s still plenty of space throughout the Q8. All five passengers have more than enough leg and headroom and the cargo area is as big as you’ll need it to be.
Stylish. With crossovers the rage now among consumers, Audi needed a companion to its A8 sedan that could sit atop its range with similar panache. The Q8 does that with aplomb. It doesn’t have the awkwardly large haunches or caboose of the BMW X6 or the Mercedes GLE Coupe and instead looks like it was designed organically from the ground up.
Interior. Keeping with the exterior’s style, the inside of the Q8 favors a tech-heavy approach to luxury highlighted by a pair of clearly-designed touchscreens in the dash. Not only do the screens look upscale and futuristic, but they’re well-executed, offering haptic feedback when you touch them (a slight bump) and easy-to-navigate menus and submenus.
TLDR: Drives a little numb overall
Muted engine. Though this Q8’s V6 certainly has more than enough power, we found that it was almost too quiet for our taste...and engine this good should be given some room to sound good too. Even the Q8’s Sport mode didn’t dial things up in a meaningful way.
Sleepy throttle. Like many Audi and VW models on the market today, we found the throttle response on the Q8 to be lagging when in its default mode. This meant sleepy acceleration from either a dead stop or when overtaking someone, which gets frustrating over time.
5 stars of execution
Safety Features? NO
- The base Q8 Premium doesn’t come standard with the kinds of active safety tech that we’d like to see on a vehicle that starts around $68,000.
- This includes driver assistance features like adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, etc.
- These features aren’t even offered as options on the base Q8 Premium.
- The Q8 did get a five-star safety rating from NHTSA and a Top Safety Pick designation from IIHS (its second-highest rating).
- No one buys a $70,000 vehicle based on its value but it’s nice to know the Q8 holds its own against its coupe/crossover rivals, particularly the Mercedes GLE Coupe but also the BMW X6.
- The base Premium model has a long list of standard features to keep any luxury buyer happy; the additional variants just add more goodness on top of this.
- The Q8 is reasonably fuel-efficient, earning a rating from the EPA of 17/22/19 MPG city/highway/combined.
- This fuel economy is on par with the Mercedes GLE Coupe, though it’s slightly worse than the outgoing BMW X6.
Driving experience? YES
- This one was a toss-up. On the one hand, the Q8 was consistently serene, comfortable and refined to drive daily; it easily lived up to the luxury expectations of its price tag.
- But the flip side to this was the fact that its handling, steering and acceleration (as mentioned before) felt numb in default mode; we hoped this crossover’s driveability would more closely match its style.
- Overall we walked away from the Q8 having enjoyed our time with it.
- It fills a meaningful hole in Audi’s lineup with a model that nicely balances style and practicality, better than most of its peers.
- It’s also comfortable, luxurious and very easy to live with.
Total Rating: 4 stars
What’s it gonna cost me?
As we mentioned, the base Q8 Premium starts at $68,395 before any options but including $995 for destination.
This includes the turbo V6 engine, all-wheel-drive, a panoramic moonroof, leather seats, heated eight-way power front seats, power tailgate, LED headlights and taillights, 20-inch alloy wheels, parking sensors, a 10-speaker sound system with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel featuring Audi’s ‘Virtual Cockpit,’ dual center touchscreen displays (10.1 inches and 8.6 inches) for the infotainment system and the navigation system.
The Q8 Premium Plus starts at $72,395 before options but including destination. It adds to the base model a Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system with 17 speakers, keyless entry, rear cross-traffic alerts, a 360-degree parking camera, 21-inch alloy wheels, four-zone climate control and twelve-way heated front seats.
The top-end Q8 Prestige starts at $77,545 including destination but before options. This version adds adaptive cruise control with low-speed traffic assist and turn assist, unique LED headlights and taillights, power soft-closing doors, rear window sunshades and a leather-covered dashboard.
If it were our money, we’d opt for just the base model (dubbed Premium) and add the optional 21-inch W Design wheels and then call it a day. For a sneeze under $70,000 you get more than enough luxury, style, power and functionality.
As we mentioned, the Q8 has some notable company in the growing “crossover coupe” class.
This segment owes its existence to the BMW X6, which arguably started the trend. The X6 has been completely redesigned for the 2020 model year. We haven’t tested it yet but we expect it to be very similar to the BMW X5 that we tested in 2018, plus some very odd rear exterior styling.
The Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe is another that we haven’t tested though we did thoroughly enjoy the GLE 450 we tested earlier in 2019.
Porsche’s Cayenne and Cayenne Coupe are also worth a look though we’d probably opt for the Audi; it packs better styling and content for less money though the Porsche’s handling is undeniably better.
Land Rover’s Range Rover Sport is also nice but the current generation is getting old; expect an updated version in the near future.