Published on May 21st, 2019 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez


Audi Q8 Test Drive Review

Audi Q8 Test Drive Review

Challenging The Velar, GLC Coupe, Cayenne & Levante

When we first saw this Q8 online, we were not so taken by its design language as pictures really do not justice to its profile.

Then we went to Audi’s Euromobil showroom a week before its official launch and up close and personal, this Q8 spoke to us… did not stop to take a breath and it never stopped jabbering until a month later when we took it for a test drive. Yes, this Q8 spoke to us in spades and now we would like to share with you our straight talking test drive review which has no sugar coating and instead it is a ‘kurang manis’ evaluation.

The exterior design

The Audi Q8 is a representative of the progressive design language that Audi first brought onto the road with the new A8 which has not seen Malaysian presence to date. Strong contours and athletically tight surfaces convey a feeling of power, sophistication and dynamics. The Q8 is a fusion of a four-door luxury sedan with a large SUV.

At 4,986 mm long, 1,995 mm wide and 1,705 mm high, this Audi Q8 exudes a presence on the road like no other SUV in its segment. With its coupé-style roof line it appears much lower than its Q7 sister. It is 66 mm shorter, but is 27 mm wider. The distinctive front end, the short rear overhang and the large 21-inch wheels with a diameter of 795 mm paint a picture of powerful dynamics.

With the imposing Singleframe in octagonal design, the Audi Q8 debuts the new face of the Q family. Six distinctive vertical chrome fins make the radiator grille appear upright and solid.

A wide mask connects the Singleframe to the distinctive headlights. The spoiler, which protrudes at the front, and the large, strongly contoured air intakes further highlight the aggressive look of the Q8.

Thanks to the frameless doors, the coupé-type roof line stretches low across the vehicle body visually, ending in a long roof spoiler. The roof line arches slightly towards the flat sloping, strong D-pillars, which are supported by wide, muscular contours – the quattro blisters, reminiscent of the original Audi quattro. The distinctive rear diffuser has four vertical fins and an integrated tailpipe trim on each side.

Lighting technology

For the headlights, Q8 customers can enjoy the benefits of HD matrix LED headlights fitted as standard, not only featuring the dynamic turn signal front and rear, but also an impressive light show during locking and unlocking. In future, Q8 owners can use the myAudi app on their smartphone to activate various lighting functions and experience them from the outside – a unique feature in the competitive field.

Each headlight unit consists of 24 individual LEDs and, from afar, the two-part lights appear very flat, as only their top part is visible. They integrate the daytime running light and the low beam, among other functions. The high beam is positioned underneath, darkened and offset to the back.

The daytime running light signature with digital character comes in a strongly three-dimensional design for the first time. It consists of seven short segments and two longer ones at the edge of the headlight. The latter shift the visual focus to the outside, highlighting the width of the Audi Q8. The taillight uses a similarly three-dimensional design with its twelve segments – connected by the distinctive light strip which simulates depth.

Premium interior

The upper MMI touch response display is the central element of the interior of the Audi Q8. With its black-panel look, it almost dissolves into a large, black surface when switched off. Simple, easy-to-understand symbols stand for the digital precision from Audi and for the high level of integration of the architecture and operation – simplicity replaces complexity. All fundamental lines originate from the large display, for example the continuous air vent strip with integrated chrome fins and an elegant aluminium-look strip.

Quattro drive with air suspension

Quattro is Audi and this of course applies in particular to this Q8. The purely mechanical centre differential transfers the forces to the front axle and rear axle at a ratio of 40:60 as standard. When required, it transfers the majority to the axle with the better traction.

Adaptive air suspension with controlled damping is a standard feature, with a sport setup. It can be adjusted to four modes with the Audi drive select dynamic handling system, varying the ride height of the body by up to 90 mm. High ride comfort and agile handling – the adaptive air suspension brings both together.

Audi drive select allows seven different driving profiles to be selected, including the off-road mode. Off-road, the Audi Q8 benefits from the standard quattro drive, the short overhangs and the large ground clearance – a maximum of 254 mm with the adaptive air suspension. The electronic chassis platform captures the tilt angle of the car and displays this information for the driver on the MMI. On steep slopes over 6 percent, the hill descent control provides support with automatic braking input. The system keeps the speed set by the driver at a constant level up to a maximum of 18mph, allowing the driver to fully focus on the terrain.

The test drive

From the moment we opened the large wide driver’s door there was a sense of occasion as the Q8 was sitting rather imposing on the tarmac. The registered test vehicle was not in a flattering colour, it was instead in this plain white colour. White did not show the lines of this SUV in its best form. We ignited the 3.0L V6 engine and it responded with an initial growl and quickly settled into a muted rumble. Insulation was great and we got comfortable in the driver seat. We drove out of the car park and into heavy traffic for the first 20-25 minutes enjoying the attention from other motorists as the noticed the large, imposing and very unusual Audi. We found an opening in traffic and smothered the accelerator pedal with our track shoes and immediately felt the unmistakable Audi power delivery. Yes, despite its heft, this 3.0L V6 turbocharged engine felt light and spritely. With 500Nm of torque available to us we kept the drive mode in ‘sport’ to exploit this SUV. We only had a few hours with the Q8 and we were not keen to try and see its fuel efficiency as any Malaysian paying RM727,900 can easily afford to fuel up with our subsidized petrol as often as needed.

(Please note that this Audi Q8 comes with a mild hybrid system featuring a 48-volt electrical system with a lithium-ion battery and a belt alternator starter. During braking, it can recover up to 12 kW of power and feed it back into the battery, enabling long coasting phases with the engine deactivated and a start-stop range that begins at 22km/h. The claimed combined fuel consumption is rated at 8.9 litres per 100km, or 11.2km per litre).

Wide front seats offer good comfort and despite its narrow surrounding glass area, the view around was quite good. As the hours passed we got more a-tuned to its size and found it easier to work around traffic and smaller housing area streets.

When we stopped for photography we managed to spend a little time in the rear seats and enjoyed its comfort and saloon like legroom. This Q8 was rather close in delivering Audi A8 comfort and space with the added attractiveness of ride height and yet it costs less than the A8. 

The final decision

Yes, its well built, quick, brimming with technology and offering a rather unique design language, but we found the overall material quality around the cabin and in the prime touch and feel areas to be lacking the upper end finesse and premium-ness of the A6 and RS cars that we have driven before. In fact, this Q8 cabin delivery was more like Q5 and A6 and did not seem on par with the Velar or Levante. Still, the driving experience was impressive and it delivered in spades when summoned by us.

It still needs sometime in the market to challenge the continued success of the Cayenne and new found success of the Velar and if there is a RS version arriving it should have the material feel of the Levante.

Audi Q8 3.0 TFSI Specifications

Engine: V6 Turbocharged

Capacity: 2995cc

Gearbox: 8-speed Tiptronic

Max power: 335bhp @ 5200-6400rpm

Max torque: 500Nm @1370-4500rpm

Top Speed: 250km/h

0-100 km/h: 5.9secs

Selling Price: RM727,900.00

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