What Car? says...
When it comes to car names, it's usually safe to assume that the bigger the number, the bigger the car. There are always exceptions to any rule, though, and the Audi Q8 coupé SUV is one of them.
You see, eight might be the highest number in Audi’s model names, but the Q8 is actually a little smaller than the closely related Audi Q7.
The Q8's sloping roofline gives it a less boxy silhouette, and that means you get less interior space. In other words, a slight practicality penalty applies if you pick the sleekest of the two big Audis.
It still has plenty to offer, though. For example, there's a choice of two very impressive engines, as well as a couple of sports version with turbocharged V8-petrol power. (If you're looking for an all-electric car, you'll need our Audi Q8 e-tron review.)
So, how well does the Audi Q8 do against the best coupé SUVs? Is it as luxurious as a BMW X6 or Mercedes GLE Coupé? And can it get close to the driver appeal of the Porsche Cayenne Coupé? Read on to find out. And when you've decided what model to get, remember we can help you buy it for the best price at a trusted dealer if you search our New Car Deals pages.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Both the engine choices for the regular Audi Q8 are brilliant, starting with the 282bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel in the 50 TDI. It pulls effortlessly from low revs and always feels as though it has power in reserve. When you put your foot down hard, it will dispatch the benchmark 0-62mph sprint in just 6.1 seconds. It’s a terrific fit for the Q8.
The other option, the 55 TFSI, is a smidge quicker. That’s because its 3.0-litre turbocharged petrol makes more power (335bhp) to fire you from 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds. You have to rev it harder in everyday use, though, because it doesn't have as much low and mid-range oomph as the diesel.
There used to be some plug-in hybrid versions of the Q8, but they’ve been temporarily taken off sale. They’ll be reintroduced, reportedly with bigger batteries and longer ranges, in the future. There are also two even quicker versions – see our Audi SQ8 review and Audi RS Q8 review to read about those.
Both engines in the regular Q8 have a very skilful stop-start system that fires them up smoothly. The 50 TDI is the noisiest engine under load and delivers a few vibrations through the steering wheel at times, but once you’re up to speed it’s barely audible – the 55 TFSI is silkier overall.
In fact, the Q8 is generally very quiet. There’s not much to disturb your peace, with very little wind noise at 70mph, and road noise is better contained than it is in the Mercedes GLE Coupé. Just avoid the massive wheel options to maximise the tranquillity.
Our only significant complaint concerns the eight-speed automatic gearbox. It can be painfully slow to kick down, and if you go to overtake, for example, it hesitates for a second or so before delivering some go. It's frustrating, and even selecting Sport mode does little to improve things. Manual mode, using the paddles behind the steering wheel, is more obedient, thankfully.
The Q8's handling is very reassuring. It suffers from minimal body lean through corners, while Audi’s standard “quattro” four-wheel drive ensures there's no shortage of traction. The sharp steering has a reassuring heftiness to it, and on the Vorsprung trim you get all-wheel steering. That means the rear wheels turn a little to give you a tighter turning circle in town and greater stability at high speed.
As confidence-inspiring as it is, the Q8 doesn’t feel that much fun. The BMW X6 is a bit livelier to drive, but if you’ve got the money, the Porsche Cayenne Coupé is the SUV to buy for handling thrills and spills. The smaller, cheaper Porsche Macan is a hoot, too.
Adaptive air suspension is standard and the smallest wheels that are available are 21in. As a result, even in the slackest suspension setting, there's a firmer edge to the Q8’s low-speed ride than you get in a Q7 with smaller diameter alloys. That said, it’s still not uncomfortable by any means, and it's more cosseting than the X6 and GLE Coupé (they thump harder over potholes).
Strengths Choice of powerful engines; impressive refinement
Weaknesses Gearbox is a little hesitant; not as fun as rivals
The interior layout, fit and finish
Every Audi Q8 comes with a dual-touchscreen infotainment system layout. The lower 8.6in touchscreen in the Q8 mostly operates the climate control functions.
The downside is that you have to look away from the road to change any of the settings – proper physical buttons and dials (like the ones you find a BMW X6) are safer and easier to use on the move. However, at least the climate controls are clearly labelled and permanently visible in the Q8, with haptic feedback to make it obvious when you’ve pressed the screen.
Above the climate control panel is a larger 10.1in infotainment touchscreen, which includes sat-nav plus Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring. Again, it’s not as good as the arrangement in the X6, which not only has the touchscreen but also a rotary iDrive controller that lets the driver skim through lists and make selections with just a fleeting glance.
Audi’s Virtual Cockpit digital instrument screen is great. It's fitted as standard and displays lots of information right in front of the driver. It's highly customisable, very easy to read and supplemented by a head-up display if you go for Vorsprung trim. That's not a necessity, though.
Electrically adjustable front sports seats with adjustable lumbar support and an extendable seat base provide good long-distance comfort, while the steering wheel offers a huge range of movement to help you find the ideal driving position. Vorsprung trim adds a massaging function to the driver’s seat.
Visibility all around is excellent – even out of the back, despite the sloping roofline – and is helped further by a rear-view camera (360-degree camera on Vorsprung) along with all-round parking sensors. Matrix LED headlights are standard throughout the range, and allow you to leave the main beams on without dazzling other road users.
The GLE Coupé and the Range Rover Velar interiors look very jazzy next to the Q8’s, but in terms of construction integrity and material quality, the Q8 has the edge.
All the surfaces are plush-feeling (there are some iffy plastics dotted around the Velar) and screwed together very well (there are some wobbly bits in the GLE). Indeed, it's right up there with the excellent interior of the X6.
Strengths Excellent build quality; crisp and clear digital driver display
Weaknesses Touchscreen climate controls are distracting to use while driving
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
The Audi Q8 has masses of front-seat space – as much as any rival, from the BMW X6 to the Mercedes GLE Coupé. That goes for head and leg room as well as the width you get to enjoy.
It’s just as good when it comes to storage space, with oodles of trays and cubbies, a large glovebox and sizeable door bins. You won’t struggle with your cappuccinos because there are a couple of cup holders as well.
What about the rear seats? Well, normally a sloping roofline does wonders for a car’s looks but spells disaster for anyone tall sitting in the rear. Not here, though – the Q8’s rear bench has more head room than most coupé SUV rivals.
You certainly won’t feel hemmed in and really the only compromise is that it’s not as spacious in the back as the Q7. Rear leg room remains as generous as it is in the Q7, but you have to do without the Q7’s two extra fold-out rear seats in the boot.
The Q8’s boot is smaller than the Q7’s, but with 605 litres, there’s easily enough room for the family holiday clobber. In fact, you can increase it to 680 litres if you slide the rear seats forward, but even without doing that, we were able to fit eight carry-on suitcases below the tonneau cover – more than the BMW X6 managed but slightly shy of the Mercedes GLE Coupé.
When you need more space, you can fold down the seat backrests using levers by the tailgate. They're split 40/20/40 to give you plenty of options to mix passengers and luggage.
Strengths Spacious rear seats; big boot
Weaknesses Slightly less practical than the Audi Q7; no seven-seat option
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
It’s a pricey car, the Audi Q8, but then it’s a large, sporty, luxurious coupé SUV. Any equivalent BMW X6 will be just as expensive, and a Mercedes GLE Coupé much more so. The Range Rover Velar looks a relative bargain because it comes with smaller engines, lesser trim levels and a cheaper list price as a result.
The Q8 is also vastly more expensive than the similar (and more practical) Q7.
Coupé SUVs are popular, with many people looking to pick one up second-hand. As a result, the Q8’s resale values match the X6’s and GLE Coupé’s, although the Velar retains a slightly bigger chunk of its list price.
Thanks to the Q8’s competitive resale values, its PCP finance costs are also in line with its rivals’. Those do fluctuate with manufacturer incentives though, so always check our New Car Deals service for the latest prices.
In terms of trims, we’d stick with entry-level S line. It includes 21in alloy wheels, a powered tailgate, privacy glass, power-folding door mirrors, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, leather seat trim and two-zone climate control. And there's more... don’t forget the electric front seats, matrix LED headlights, air suspension, front and rear parking sensors, and rear-view camera.
Black Edition does very little more to impress, other than adding some styling enhancements. Vorsprung is incredibly well kitted out, adding nappa leather, electric sun blinds, keyless entry and massaging seats – which is all fantastic, but it’s just too expensive.
The Q8 also comes with an impressive array of active safety features, including automatic emergency braking (AEB) and lane-keeping assistance. The Vorsprung trim adds blind-spot monitoring and every version has a full five-star crash safety rating from Euro NCAP.
As for reliability, Audi finished a not-so-impressive 26th place out of 32 manufacturers in the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey. That was better than Land Rover, but BMW and Mercedes were higher. Every Q8 comes with a three-year or 60,000-mile warranty, which is pretty average.
Strengths Decent amount of kit as standard
Weaknesses Audi’s poor reliability record; price quickly jumps up with the other trims
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|RRP price range||£69,400 - £118,750|
|Number of trims (see all)||19|
|Number of engines (see all)||12|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||diesel, petrol, electric|
|MPG range across all versions||22.4 - 34.9|
|Available doors options||5|
|Warranty||3 years / 60000 miles|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£139 / £8,446|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£277 / £16,892|