2024 Audi Q8 and SQ8 first drive

The Audi Q8 has been at the top of the brands’ SUV lineup since its introduction as a 2019 model in 2018. For the 2024 model year Audi has enhanced the product with subtle changes to both the Q8 and sportier SQ8 models. We have traveled to Cape Town, South Africa to experience the changes made to Audi’s marquee SUV model. 2024 Audi SQ8, Ascari Blue paint
The obvious changes to the 2024 Q8 lineup are exterior styling revisions. Most noticeable is Audi’s trademark single frame front grille that has wings which now run out to the outer edges of the front fascia. The iconic four rings logo has been reworked to an almost flat 2 dimensional design and sits in the centre of the redesigned front grille. Aluminum trim surrounds the grille, air intakes and lower sills. New front and rear bumper designs encompass larger front air intakes and underline new digital light signatures at both ends of the Q8. Audi’s digital Matrix headlights have been made thinner and now include 5 programmable patterns and, at the rear, new OLED lights provide additional visibility for added safety.
New wheel designs are available in sizes ranging from the standard 20 inch models, up to 21 and 22 inch sizes. Three new colours have been added for the 2024 model year, the Q8 and SQ8 will be offered in Sakir Gold, while the SQ8 gets the additional offerings of Chili Red and Ascari Blue.
Inside the cabin, Audi has refined what has arguably been the class leader in ergonomic design and tech integration. New digital augmentation has been included within the Audi Virtual Cockpit display in the instrument cluster behind the steering wheel. Hazards from the lanes on either side of the vehicle have been added to the display screen. Aesthetically, Audi is now offering choices of wood, aluminum or carbon fibre for interior accents across the dash or as door trim inlays.
2024 Audi SQ8Under the hood, the powertrains of both modes remain the same. The standard Q8 is fitted with a 3.0 litre turbocharged V6 producing 335 HP and 369 lb-ft of torque, while the sportier SQ8 produces 500 HP and 568 lb-ft of torque from its 4.0 litre, twin turbocharged V8. Both engines are paired with an eight-speed transmission that drives the Audi Quattro four wheel system. A torque splitting system can apportion torque between the front and rear axles and the torque vectoring Sport Differential can send extra power to each of the rear wheels to help the back corner get round corners. To that end, Audi has also included a couple of technology features to aid handling. Four wheel steering and an adaptive air suspension with active roll stabilization, make the Q8 handle better than a vehicle with an almost 2 metre width should.
The cliff road that overhangs Hout Bay outside Cape Town, is a sinewy strip of pavement that is filled with numerous tight turns, many of which are blind to oncoming traffic and with very little margin of error. There are many signs along the road warning of falling rocks and other hazards but the sign for a shark watching venue, is particularly sobering. Driving the Audi SQ8 along this challenging road is made more difficult as South Africans drive on the left hand side of the road and we are driving German spec vehicles with the steering on the wrong side.
In an effort to reap the most for the experience, sometimes passing slow moving vehicles is a necessity and a co-driver has to double as a spotter to confirm the required gap to unleash the 500HP SQ8 and capitalize on a passing opportunity on these twisty roads. Either the mighty SQ8 or adequately powered Q8 produces enough get up and go to make these passes possible. Audi estimates the Q8 will crank out a 0-100 km/h time of 5.6 seconds versus a neck snapping 4.1secs in the SQ8.2024 Audi SQ8 South Africa
The hours spent behind the wheel in these potent, large cruisers highlighted the position of the range topping Audi SUV as one of the premier people movers. The seats are supremely comfortable and are available with heating, cooling and massage features. An abundance of passenger and cargo room means the Q8 and SQ8 should appeal to anyone looking for a comfortable daily driver, weekend cottage transport or country club transit.
Luxury, comfort and performance doesn’t come cheap. MSRP on the standard 2024 Audi Q8 starts at $92,000 while the higher performance SQ8 lists at $121,250. Both models are currently available for sale. For full details on the packages and pricing for both models please visit the Audi website.