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2020 Audi Q8: More 'Bentley' DNA than 'Lamborghini' DNA


MSRP as tested: $98,100

Specs: 3.0L twin-scroll turbo V6 (335hp, 369 lb.-ft. torque), paired with an 8-speed Tiptronic transmission

0-100kmh as tested: 6.0 seconds


Don’t be fooled by its evocative looks, giant front grille, or family-ties with the Lamborghini Urus, because the Audi Q8 is a big softie underneath all that aggressive sheetmetal. With an uber plush ride, big comfy seats, light steering, and a ridiculously well noise-insulated cabin, this flagship luxury SUV is among the most comfortable and easy-going we’ve ever driven. Combined with its stunning looks, plentiful features, and luxurious yet high tech interior, Audi has put together an alluring package that is perfect for those who don't need the extra space of the Q7, but instead want a stylish and sporty-looking SUV that coddles its passengers.



Driving Impressions:

A true "sheep in wolf’s clothing", the Q8 is tuned for maximum comfort and cabin isolation despite its aggressive styling. Audi has pulled out all the stops and achieved a ride so supple it'll make Range Rover owners jealous, and a cabin so quiet it can give electric vehicles a run for their money. Even at full throttle, the Q8's buttery smooth 3.0L V6 barely makes a peep as it glides forward effortlessly (but not quickly), with transmission shifts barely noticeable. This is easily one of the quietest and smoothest SUVs we've ever driven, barring entrants from Rolls Royce and Bentley.

Handling is also graceful thanks to light and effortless steering, with virtually no vibrations or feedback for the driver or occupants. This is not a fun car to drive, but rather a relaxing cruiser that is extremely easy to drive. That's not to say the Q8 isn't capable in corners; surprisingly, body roll is also very well controlled unlike some other large comfort-oriented SUVs, resulting in confidence when it comes to tackling highway ramps and curvy roads. In dynamic mode, steering and throttle tightens up a bit to give you a slightly more responsive feel, though not quite enough to be considered exciting.


While it handles pretty well for such as large SUV and technically shares the same underpinnings as the Lamborghini Urus, the Q8 is no rocket ship, contrary to what its muscular exterior would suggest. The 335 horsepower V6 isn't underpowered by any means, but there is significant power lag due to the comfort-oriented transmission taking its time to downshift into the right gear. As a result, the Q8 glides gracefully to 100km/h in 6 seconds flat, rather than pushing you into the back of your seat. If you're looking for more speed or performance, you'll need to upgrade to the SQ8 or the bonkers RSQ8, which cranks out a whopping 500 and 592 horsepower respectively.



Interior:

Audi has knocked it out of the park when it comes to the Q8's cabin. Not only is it the quietest cabin of any vehicle within the class, it's also one of the sleekest and most solidly built, stuffed to the brim with technology and robust materials. Design wise, the Q8 shares an interior with the larger Q7, as well as the A6 to A8 sedans, incorporating a good mixture of high tech elements and traditional wood and metal trim pieces.


Behind the wheel lies Audi's tried-and-true 12.3 inch Virtual Cockpit, which while no longer unique or class-leading, still provides customizable layouts to suit your preferences, and all the information you would ever need in an easy to read and attractive manner. The centrepiece of the interior are the two haptic-feedback touchscreen displays, used to control everything from the infotainment system, to the climate settings. While seemingly daunting to use at first, they're actually quite intuitive and easy to use, and perhaps some of the easiest to use touch-based climate control system on any car. They're also quite visually stunning and not at all distracting, blending in seamlessly with the surrounding gloss black trim.


However, as good as the interior is, it's not perfect... My biggest pet peeve as the fact that its virtually impossible to keep clean, thanks to the excessive use of screens and gloss black trim acting as dust and fingerprint magnets (see pics below to see what the centre console looks like after just a few hours; it's not a pretty sight). Other minor annoyances included the pressure sensitive screens sometimes not responding to light touches/swipes for certain functions and inputs, requiring you to really press into the screen to get a response. Lastly, while the Q8's cabin is certainly spacious (more so than most direct rivals such as the BMW X6 and GLE Coupe), the trunk does feel a bit tighter than you'd expect for a vehicle of this size, though that comes with the territory of being a sleek coupe-styled SUV.




Exterior:


The Q8 exists to be a sexier and sleeker alternative to the Audi Q7, and there's no denying Audi has accomplished this. Aggressively styled with its massive grille, sharp body lines, fancy HD Matrix LED lights, and swooping coupe-like roofline, the Q8 has a ton of presence, and looks properly expensive, stylish, and fast. No matter how conservatively you spec your Q8, one will be mistaking your $100,000 luxury SUV for an Audi Q5 or Q7.


Our tester also came with the S-Line Sport package, upgraded 22 inch wheels, and the Black Optics package (which replaces silver exterior trim pieces with gloss black trim including the trim around the front grille, making the already huge grille seem even more massive). Excessive? Perhaps, but all together, the Q8 looks absolutely stunning. You'd be forgiven mistaking the Q8 for a super-performance SUV.



Recommended Build: Q8 Technik w/ Luxury Package ($93,600 CAD)

Our tester came in the top-end Technik trim, loaded with the $3400 Luxury Package to add seat massagers, ventilation, Valcona leather, and passenger seat memory, as well as a handful of aesthetic upgrades (S-line Sport for $1000, Black Optics package for $1700, and upgraded 22 inch wheels for $1800). The result is an absolutely stunning SUV that looks like its ready to eat sports sedans for breakfast, but also comes with basically any luxury feature you could imagine (soft-close doors, massage seats, interactive 360 camera, semi-autonomous driving features, air fragrance and ionizer system, an amazing Bang & Olufsen® Premium 3D sound systemetc.)


While the Luxury Package is well worth the extra $3400, we think the Q8 looks imposing enough without the extra S-Line Sport and Black Optics packages, and wouldn't shell out the extra $2700 for the two packages. The 22 inch wheels can also be skipped, though if you really want them, they don't compromise ride quality much despite their large size thanks to the Q8's amazingly soft suspension.


To build your own Audi Q8, visit: https://www.audi.ca/ca/web/en/models/q8/q8/build-price.html