THE Audi Q8 is the German marque’s flagship SUV and, as you would expect from Audi, it’s a luxurious, spacious, family motor that inspires quiet confidence rather than aggressive one-upmanship. More BFG than Goliath, if you get my drift.

The Q8 is a more sculpted version of the Q7, with a sweeping roofline that might lead you to believe that headroom has been compromised, but surprisingly it hasn’t, not even in the rear. The Q8 is slightly shorter and lower than the Q7 – but it is 27mm wider. This leaves the Q8 as a sportier version of the Q7 and not its bigger brother, as you might expect.

The recent facelift hasn’t significantly changed the Q8’s interior or mechanical components. However, the exterior has received subtle updates, such as a slightly beefier front grille, front side pods, and new OLED rear lights.

How Much and what do you get?

Audi has kept it pretty simple when choosing your Q8 with just 3 trim levels: S Line, Black Edition and Vorsprung. There are just 2 engines – a V6 TDI (286PS) diesel and a V6 TFSI (340PS) petrol unit.

Audi’s rather complicated online configurator shows the entry level to be The S Line 50 TDI which is available, in White, from £75,615 on the road, while, curiously, the Petrol unit is £600 more. However, move up to Black Edition or Vorsprung and you’ll find that petrol is cheaper than Diesel. Go figure . . .

There is also a crazily quick, 500bhp V8 RS Q8 available which will set you back over £112k for the entry-level model.

However, even the S Line V6 TFSI is capable of hitting 62mph in just 5.6 seconds and has a capped top speed of 155mph.

It’s well-equipped too, including 21-inch alloys, Adaptive air Sport suspension, Quattro all-wheel-drive with locking centre differential, 7 Drive Modes (Auto, Comfort, Dynamic, Efficiency, Individual, Off-road and All-road), Matrix LED headlights, power tailgate, privacy glass and heated front seats.

There’s also Audi’s 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit, a 10-speaker, 180-watt sound system and 2 large touchscreens – 10.1inch at the top and 8.6-inch below it – featuring haptic feedback.

And that’s before we get into all the driver-assistance systems which include Audi Pre-sense Front to stop you from running into the car in front, Lane departure warning and the Parking System Plus with 360-degree display.

My Black Edition 55 TFSI model starts from £80,765 OTR, although the Daytona Grey paintwork adds an extra £795.

I noticed my press car was missing the standard 22-inch black alloys. Instead, it was shod with silver wheels and full-winter tyres – which was a wise choice considering the car was to be used in Scotland at the height of winter.

All the other Black Edition extras were present though, including anthracitegrey Audi rings, front and rear as well as the model name at the rear in black, black window trims and front and rear bumpers, black exhausts and door mirrors. There’s also Audi Beam which projects the S emblem on the ground when opening a door. Inside, there is polished Oak trim with a grey finish and a 3-spoke, flat-bottomed leather, sports steering wheel.

The Vorsprung model (from £100,015 OTR) adds the likes of all-wheel-steering, power-close doors, adaptive wipers, panoramic glass sunroof, Digital OLED rear lights and HD Matrix LED Headlights with Audi Laserlight. Inside there are Super Sport front seats in Valcona leather, with S embossed logo and heated rear, outer seats.

How does it drive?

The Q8 Black Edition is similar to the Range Rover Sport I drove recently, in that it’s not as sporty as you would expect. The 0-62mph of under 6 seconds suggests the hefty Q8 may be a lot of fun on twisty roads, but it’s just not.

And I’m not sure it was ever meant to be. Unlike the RR Sport, the Audi Q8 doesn’t have “Sport” in its name. It’s much more of a grand tourer, despite that sloping roofline. It also makes you question why you would choose it over the Q7 which is a tad more practical.

So, it probably comes down to styling and the Q8 does look cooler and has frameless doors which are unique in an SUV of this size.

That’s not to say the Q8 isn’t capable of providing thrills, but it’s not its forte. It’s more than competent when you’re overtaking on the open road, although the 8-speed Tiptronic transmission seems to hesitate a moment before you are gently pushed back into your seat and the car begins its rapid acceleration.

However, if drama and sportiness are what you’re after then maybe the Porsche Cayenne or the BMW X7 may suit better. The Q8 is a more refined taste.

The subtleness of the Audi Q8 is evident in its soundtrack too. It’s a muted, grown-up sound from the V6 but it still sounds meaty toward the rev limit.

The steering is as sharp as ever with the Quattro all-wheel-drive system providing a well-planted and confidence-inspiring experience that only gets unsettled if you push the 2.1-ton Q8 too hard through those tighter bends. The Q8 is good at keeping things together, but it can’t defy physics, despite the help of rear-wheel steering.

As a day-to-day premium family SUV the Audi Q8 won’t fail to impress its driver or passengers with its understated sense of power and comfort. It’s more at home on motorways and dual carriageways than around town, but even there It’s perfectly acceptable thanks to good all-round visibility and the help of electronic driving aids.

Motorway cruising is especially satisfying in the big Q8, thanks to how well-planted the car feels, even at 70mph. Subtle corrections to the steering are all that’s needed while overtaking is a breeze. Noise levels are very well muted, even on 22-inch wheels.

What’s the Inside Story? 

It’s an Audi, so the quality of fit and finish is exemplary. There is a plethora of soft-touch materials along the top of the dash and doors, while the centre console is topped in piano-black and chrome, surrounded by a matte, brushed aluminium-look material. It’s classy.

The sweeping dash is particularly impressive with its contrast stitching and a hooded, Virtual Cockpit driver’s display giving way to a flat-fronted dash that incorporates the main infotainment screen. This tails away to a section in front of the passenger which has a stylised “Quattro” motif which is subtly lit in the dark. It all flows beautifully across the full width of the vehicle with no break in the lines to incorporate a nasty, “stuck-on” infotainment screen.

And yes, there is configurable “mood lighting” which can be changed automatically, depending on which drive mode you choose.

The central console incorporates a second touch-screen to control the climate and below that, there is the chunky gear-selector.

It’s great that Audi has seen fit to provide dedicated controls for the climate, but I found operating either of the touchscreens to be a bit hit-and-miss. Although they provide haptic feedback, the icons on the screens need a firm “push” to activate. This is not something I’m used to having to do – usually, a gentle touch is all that’s needed. I suppose you would get used to pushing more firmly on the screen, eventually, but at first, it’s a little frustrating.

Other than that, the infotainment is easy to navigate with everything being where you would expect it. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included, so it’s quite easy to set up a familiar layout without the need to learn something new.

The flat-bottomed, multi-function steering wheel looks and feels top quality, while the tiny, plastic, gear-shift paddles behind it don’t. I never use them anyway, so it would never really bother me, but if I’d paid the best part of £90,000 for a car, I’d expect something much more like those aluminium beauties in the Alfa-Romeo Stelvio.

The Launch Edition Q8 gets a configurable head-up display, which means more attention is given to the road ahead rather than having to glance down at the dash – no matter how attractive the Virtual Cockpit Plus display is.

The heated front seats are highly configurable via electronic adjustment and finding the perfect driving position is easy, while rear passengers also get heated (outer) seats and their own, dedicated, twin-zone climate control.

Space in the rear is very generous, even for taller adults and because the Q8 is wide the centre seat isn’t the squeeze it would be in most other cars. A 6-footer can easily get comfortable in any of the 3 rear seats. Two kids can be easily separated enough to provide a large “no-hitting zone”.

The automatic tailgate opens to reveal a generous 605 litres of space. It’s a good shape for getting awkward, large items in and out of, with a flat loading area and only the smallest of lips to negotiate on entry. If you need the car to be a little lower, then the air suspension can be lowered slightly to help.


The latest Audi Q8 hasn’t had any headline upgrades, but then again there wasn’t much wrong with it before. It remains an impressive combination of space, tech and comfort, bundled together in an extremely well-built and impressive SUV that deserves the title of “Flagship”.

It has a quiet confidence about it and I suspect it will appeal, mostly, to that kind of person, too. It’s not shouty like many of its immediate rivals. It doesn’t make a fuss; it just gets on with the job of making your driving hours that much more refined and therefore enjoyable. A quality SUV for grown-ups.


Audi Q8 55 TFSI Quattro 340PS Launch Edition

OTR Price: £80,765

Engine: 3.0 V6 petrol   

Power: 340 PS   

Transmission: 8-speed Tiptronic  

0-62mph: 5.6 secs   

Top Speed: 155 mph   

WLTP Combined Economy: 26.2 mpg   

WLTP C02: 246 g/km  

By Steve Berry

Freelance motoring writer and member of the Association of Scottish Motoring Writers with a love of cars, motorbikes and running. I lied about the love of motorbikes. They scare me to death - although I would like to own a Ducati 996 in red which I would just look at but never ride. No, not ever.

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