Audi Q8 e-tron first drive

The 2024 Audi Q8 e-tron has already hit showrooms in North America. The Q8 e-tron is in fact a realignment of the Audi e-tron SUV, complete with significant changes and improvements. In fact, with the proliferation of e-tron models in the Audi line up, it only made sense to classify the top of range electric SUV as part of the Q8 model range. The Q8 e-tron is available as either a conventional SUV or Sportback model. 2024 Audi Q8 e-tron
First introduced in 2018, the chassis of the Q8 e-tron continues as the EV specific version of the Volkswagen MLB Evo platform, created to optimally handle battery storage and protection. The battery is cradled and integrated as part of the vehicle’s floor to keep the centre of gravity low and to provide maximum protect in case of collision.
While the lithium-ion battery’s physical dimensions haven’t changed, the electrical capacity has increased from 95.0 kilowatt hours to 106 kWh of usable energy. The increase in energy density was made possible by improvements in battery technology and design. Another benefit of the redesigned battery is the ability to charge at up to 170 kW charging rate as opposed to the 150 kW limit of the previous design. In reality, the improved charge rate means that the larger battery can be charged to 80% in about the same half hour time as the previous smaller unit.
2024 Audi Q8 e-tron front grilleThe Audi trapezoidal front grille on the Q8 e-tron has been flattened and stretched outward. The surrounding frame now runs all the way to the corners of the vehicle. The iconic Audi four rings logo sits up above the grille with a two dimensional design with contrasting edge colour. The closed off circles visually demonstrate the lack of an internal combustion engine requiring air cooling.
The new grille design helps contribute to an overall reduction in drag coefficient. Combined with aerodynamic improvements in and around the front air splitter and a pair of large air channeling vents on the lower corners, the large SUV creates a less turbulent profile in the wind tunnel. Naturally, the Sportback model has a more aerodynamic profile than the longer roofline regular SUV. The styling of the new front end also reminds buyers of its connection to the Q8 lineup.
A new feature coming to all Audi’s but introduced on the Q8 e-tron, is the model identifier now being laser etched on the B-pillar between the doors. 2024 Audi Q8 e-tron rear
The range on the 2024 Audi Q8 e-tron is listed as 459 kms for the SUV and 476 kms for the Sportback. Onboard charging is possible by way of a 9.6 kW charger in the vehicle. The Q8 e-tron can be ordered with an additional level 1/2 charging port ($700) on the passenger side the vehicle for flexibility when looking for public charging. The extra port also increases the charging rate to 19.2 kW when level two charging.
Charging times provided by Audi indicate a 0-100% charging time of 13 hours on a 40 amp level 2 charger. In reality no one ever gets down to 0% on battery so real world charging times will be significantly shorter.
The Q8 e-tron is powered by a pair of electric motors which have also been revised with 14 tightly wound coils as opposed to the 12 on the previous design. The extra coils provide extra efficiency and power. The motors combine for a total output of 402HP and 490 lb-ft of torque sent to all four wheels with Audi’s legendary Quattro all-wheel-drive system. Audi reports a 0-100 km/h time of 5.7 seconds.
Overall the design approach for Audi has been to reinforce the brand identity ahead of the over emphasizing the electrification element. In other words, the Q8 e-tron just happens to be an Audi powered by an incredibly efficient, electrified power-train. Inside the cabin the gauges as well as the instrumentation are familiar, essentially the same as in a model powered by an internal combustion engine.
On the road the Q8 e-tron has been calibrated to reflect a reasonably firm ride, one most buyers expect from a European luxury vehicle. The power-train does react with a linear rush of power, a somewhat subdued version of the EV rush that does feel similar to a powerful gasoline engine. Lifting off the accelerator activates the vehicles regenerative braking which feels like gasoline engine braking.
Driving sections of the California coast gave us ample opportunity to experience the on road performance as well as the range on the new Q8 e-tron. With a curb weight just shy of 6,000 pounds, the standard air suspension with adaptive dampers plays an integral part in providing the large SUV with a delicate and nimble road feel. The suspension calibration allows the Q8 e-tron to stick to the twisty roads on the Pacific Coast west of Sonoma. Any road imperfections gets smoothed over with only minimal notice.
2024 Audi Q8 e-tron SUVRoad noise is pretty much absent in the cabin, double glazed windows and a quiet power-train help to add to the feeling of refinement. Audi has not augmented the cabin environment by adding synthetic engine sound or active cancelling road noise. For safety reasons, the motor noise is amplified outside the vehicle when reversing and up to speeds experienced in slower city driving. The increased motor noise level was added to raise awareness for pedestrian safety.
Perhaps the most impressive improvement for the Q8 e-tron has to be the range enhancement. Not only has the extra battery capacity and motor design resulted in a range increase but our experience driving up and down the California coast highlighted a quantum leap forward in the energy regeneration on the vehicle. Driving US spec’d vehicles our observations were in miles. We began our route with 287 miles of range showing on the dashboard of a Sportback model. Half way through the drive when we stopped for lunch the range had only dropped to 250 miles, although we had travelled around 65 miles. The SUV we picked up for the remainder of the drive showed significantly less range, with around 195 miles remaining. Driving style more than aerodynamic differences were likely the cause of the substantial difference. With normal driving habits the range of the Q8 e-tron should easily outperform the listed figure. 2024 Audi Q8 e-tron side
With the 2024 Q8 e-tron, Audi has brought the e-tron SUV back to relevance and placed it near the head of the class for luxury EV SUV’s. The utility and performance are close to class leading in a refined package. Even with a starting price of $95,950 and $99,250 for the SUV and Sportback, respectively, the Q8 e-tron represents a bargain in the luxury EV market. Audi has created a cosmetic black out package as well as Technology and Premium packages for either model. For a detailed list of the package option and costs please visit the Audi website for exact information.