2024 Audi SQ8 e-tron road test

Audi has always stressed they would approach electrification on their terms, seeking a mid-ground between performance and efficiency. After launching the Q8 e-tron earlier in the year, Audi is now introducing a sportier S model of their marquee all-electric SUV.2024 Audi SQ8 e-tron
The 2024 Audi SQ8 e-tron features both cosmetic and mechanical improvements over the stock Q8 e-tron. Visually the front fascia features a standard aluminum treatment surrounding the single frame grille, side rocker panel accents as well as the rear diffuser under the back bumper. An optional blackout package is also available. As with other Q8 models, the front grille houses a new flatter, almost 2 dimensional Four Rings logo that is backlit against either a silver or grey background. Framing the front grille are digital Matrix headlights that have 5 different signature profiles.
The SQ8 also features a wider overall body width along with wheel track. Aggressive front aero treatments are also functional as the air splitters up front channel air away from the front tires and coupled with a dimpled tray under the vehicle, reduces the aerodynamic drag of the S Q8.
Active air shutters up front also stay closed unless required to aid in thermal management of the vehicle systems, which also reduces unneeded aerodynamic disturbance.
Mechanically the SQ8 is fitted with a 114kWh battery that maintains the same physical dimensions as the previous generation of battery in the Q8 e-tron. The new battery design adds 24 kgs of weight to the vehicle, pushing it up to 6,000 pounds.
Powering the S Q8 are three electric motors, one on the front axle and two at the rear. Maximum power output for the drive train is 496 HP 718 lb-ft of torque, an increase of 94 HP and 228 lb-ft of torque over the standard Q8 e-tron.
2024 Audi SQ8 e-tronQuattro all-wheel-drive is standard as is torque vectoring for enhanced handling. As the e-tron’s drivetrain has no mechanical coupling, the electric torque vectoring system reacts instantaneously when called on.
Despite the additional battery size, Audi has kept charging times similar to the previous smaller battery by upgrading the charging system with quicker 170 kW DC fast charging. Audi estimates that charging the Q8 e-tron from 10% battery up to 80% could take as little as 31 minutes on a DC fast charger. A 9.6 kW onboard charger is standard on the vehicle. An optional 19.2 kW onboard charger (which doubles the rate of charging) is bundled with a second charging port on the opposite side of the vehicle for easier access to charging stations.
In Canada, Audi includes up to 4 years or 1400 kWh of free Electrify Canada charging to augment your home charging, creating a seamless electric driving experience.
We were able to test the 2024 Audi SQ8 in the hills and highways around Malibu, California. Enthusiasts know these roads as some of the most exhilarating to drive, either on a sport motorcycle or in a sports car. Audi lists the 0-100 km/h time of 4.6 seconds and a top speed of 209 km/h. Getting the battery laden SUV around the twisty roads was surprisingly easier than expected.
The powertrain’s impressive output along with a reinforced front suspension, standard sport tuned air suspension, quicker ratio steering and the torque vectoring drivetrain, gives the SQ8 e-tron nimble handling characteristics. There is no hint of the substantial weight being kicked around the corners. In fact, Audi’s goal was to offer handling equal to a vehicle half its weight and they appear to have succeeded.
Audi cabins are recognized as some of the finest produced in the auto industry and the new SQ8 e-tron does not disappoint. Starting at a mid-grade trim level, the SQ8 includes such niceties as Valcona covered leather seating. Matching Valcona trim on the dash and door panels, carbon fibre inserts on the dash and door panels are optional. Front sport seats come with optional heating, cooling and massage functions.
Driving the crest of the hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean, natural light poured into the SQ8 from the standard panoramic glass sunroof. One engineer explained the difficulty in creating a soothing cabin in electric vehicles. The lack of an engine or exhaust sounds removed the background white noise that many drivers are used to, so any road or wind noise that the vehicle creates is more obvious to occupants. Extra sound insulation has been added to the vehicle to tame the sonic interference.2024 Audi SQ8 e-tron
The sounds from the electrified powertrain and large sport tires have been balanced to create a relaxing environment for casual cruising or subtle fury when provoked with extra throttle input.
Perhaps paramount for any EV buyer is effective range on the vehicle. Audi estimates the maximum range on the SQ8 with 20 inch ties to be 409 kms. Increasing the tire size to either the 21 or 22 inch wheel options, drops range to 351 kms. In California our test vehicles, equipped with 22 inch wheels, were offered with Imperial gauges and at the start of the drive showed a range of 190 miles or only 304 kms. After driving for over 2 hours up, down and around the canyon roads surrounding Malibu, we returned to our start point showing remaining range of 178 miles or 285 kms. The minimal drop in range was impressive given the type of driving we were doing. As noted in past reviews, the regeneration systems in the latest generation of Audi e-trons has evolved to an impressive level. A leap in technology is making the vehicles far more appealing by extending the available range of these battery powered vehicles.
The 2024 SQ8 e-tron is available in either SUV or Sportback body style. The SUV model starts at $108,000. The Sportback comes with a $2,600 premium , the sleeker body style includes a marginal sacrifice in usable cargo room.
The higher performance Audi SQ8 e-tron is now available for purchase. For complete details on packages offered and pricing please visit the Audi Canada website.