Price and positioning
Sitting upstream from the related Q7 SUV in Audi’s line-up, the stunning-looking Q8 is battling the Range Rover Velar for the title of world’s most beautiful SUV.
The Q8 range starts with the 50 TDI ($129,600 before on-road costs) and 55 TFSI ($130,200), jumping to $165,500 for the SQ8 and topping out at $208,500 for the high-performance petrol RS Q8. The SQ8 is $4000 more than the SQ7 that shares its engine and underpinnings, but a whopping $165,000 cheaper than the Bentley Bentayga diesel that also uses the same oily bits. Other than that, there are few direct rivals for a go-fast diesel-powered large SUV.
Pleasingly, the SQ8 is missing little in terms of standard gear. The optional massaging seats would be nice, but do you need them? Our test car was equipped with the $10,900 Dynamic Package that includes active roll stabilisation to minimise body roll in cornering, and a sport differential for the quattro all-wheel-drive system.
Entry-level Q8s were awarded a five-star ANCAP score but the SQ8 was not included in the rating. All Q8 variants are fitted with a lengthy list of standard passive-safety and driver-assistance features (see table below).
The SQ8’s adaptive cruise control accurately followed the speed of the car ahead and the lane-keeping aid subtly kept it centred.
The inside story
The SQ8 takes Audi’s reputation for beautiful interiors to a new level. An ‘Arras Red’ seat trim is also available, but our test car had gorgeous light-grey leather/Alcantara seats with contrasting light and dark-grey tones throughout the cabin. The plush quilted front sports seats offer incredible upper-body support.
From the materials on the steering wheel, gear shifter and door handles to the floor mats – it’s all high-quality and there’s not a stitch out of place. The SQ8 oozes class.
Audi’s minimal dash features integrated air vents, brushed aluminium and gloss-black plastic inserts. Most controls are housed in the upper infotainment screen or lower screen housing functions for climate, seats and vehicle settings. The haptic infotainment screen is more complex than Audi’s previous setup, but it’s intuitive and as good as BMW or Benz’s systems (although Apple CarPlay failed to reconnect a couple of times).
The resolution and clarity of the head-up display and digital instrument cluster is excellent and navigation guidance shows up on both screens.
Large bottles fit in the doors and the SQ8 has a decent glovebox, but the central storage bin is shallow to fit the wireless charging hub.
The bucketed second-row seats are perfect for a long drive. Headroom is plentiful, and there’s more rear legroom than the Q7. The unobtrusive transmission tunnel and overall space means three adults would fit comfortably across the rear.
The luxurious second row has decent bottle storage, map pockets, a central fold-out armrest with cup holders, two USB and one 12V outlet, face and knee-level air vents and digital dual-zone climate control. The kids will feel like royalty back there.
Audi’s air suspension allows you to lower the rear end of the SQ8 for better cargo loading. Boot capacity of 605 litres is not as big as the Q7 but still sizeable. Folding the 60/40 split-fold rear seats expands that to 1755 litres. The SQ8 has a space-saver spare wheel.