What Car? says...
The Audi Q8 e-tron has a new name, a punchier look and – most importantly for most buyers – a much longer electric range. There are also many more electric car models to consider than when it was launched as the Audi e-tron.
When the e-tron first went on sale, it was the only fully electric model in the Audi line-up, but over time the brand launched more electric SUVs and the potential for confusion increased. So the Q8 bit was added to show that it’s a bigger car than the Audi Q4 e-tron and comparable in size with the (non-electric) Audi Q8 coupé SUV.
As part of the Q8 e-tron's facelift and rebranding, Audi has given the car more aggressive styling and more power. Other notable details include charging ports on both sides of the car so you never have to drag cables over it, and air suspension that automatically adjusts the ride height to help this big SUV slip through the air as efficiently as possible.
Three power outputs are available: the entry-level 50 quattro model produces 335bhp, the mid-range 55 quattro increases that to 402bhp, and the flagship SQ8 e-tron has 496bhp. There are four trim levels: Sport, S line, Black Edition and Vorsprung.
In this review, we’ll look at what you get with each version. Plus, we’ll see how the Audi Q8 e-tron compares with key rivals in terms of performance, practicality and more. They include the BMW iX, the Jaguar I-Pace and the Mercedes EQC.
There's also a sleeker, coupé-like version, which has been renamed and updated too – if you like the sound of that, have a look at our review of the Audi Q8 Sportback e-tron.
Finally, once you've decided which car is right for you, you can make sure you don’t pay more than you need to by checking out the best prices available through our free New Car Deals service. It lists lots of great new electric SUV deals.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
Most versions of the Audi Q8 e-tron deliver performance that’s strong, but feels rather more measured compared with rivals. In our tests, the mid-range 55 quattro managed 0-60mph in 5.4sec, and while that’s not a time to be sniffed at, it trails the 4.7sec time of the Jaguar I-Pace and the 4.6sec of the BMW iX xDrive 50. Only the flagship SQ8 e-tron will have a chance of beating them in this sprint.
The 106kWh battery in the 55 quattro and SQ8 e-tron gives them official ranges of 330 miles and 281 miles respectively. However, in our real-world test on a cold day, the Q8 e-tron’s disappointing efficiency figure of 2.2 miles/kWh equated to a range of 233 miles. We’d expect more in warmer weather, but for comparison, the iX xDrive50 achieved a predicted range of 273 miles, while the I-Pace managed 211.
Suspension and ride comfort
The standard air suspension does a grand job of wafting you along when the Q8 e-tron is in its Comfort driving mode. Indeed, it deals with lumps and bumps better than an EQC and an I-Pace (even one with optional air suspension). While it’s firmer than a range-topping iX xDrive50, it’s very well controlled and particularly settled at higher speeds.
For the smoothest ride, you’ll want to stick with the 20in alloy wheels that come as standard on Sport trim. That said, the 21in wheels that Audi fits to posher versions don't exactly make the ride fractious. It’s worth noting that the SQ8 has a firmer setup than the 50 and 55 variants, so it's the most compromised when it comes to ride comfort.
You can switch to Dynamic mode, which enables the suspension to keep tighter control over vertical body movements, but the downside is that the car becomes noticeably more jiggly over broken city streets.
Despite weighing about two and a half tonnes, the Q8 e-tron tackles bends pretty tidily. The suspension does a good job of preventing the car from leaning too much through corners, the wide tyres provide lots of grip, and the meaty steering is precise enough. It’s a lot more composed than the relatively tall iX.
The firmer SQ8 e-tron corners with more gusto, but still feels rather aloof, so if you’re looking for fun, take a look at the iX3 and the I-Pace. The steering is more engaging in both and they change direction more eagerly, swaying around less.
Noise and vibration
The Q8 e-tron generates next to no wind noise on the move and, if you avoid the SQ8, road noise is also well muted. You do hear a noticeable whine from the electric motors when accelerating at town speeds (the iX is better in this regard), but overall this is one of the quietest cars around.
Even more impressive is what happens when you slow down. Despite juggling between regenerative braking (using the motors as dynamos to charge the battery) and regular friction brakes, the left pedal offers a good amount of feel, allowing you to slow smoothly. That’s fairly rare in electric cars.
In most modes, the accelerator pedal is very consistent in its responses, making the Q8 e-tron easy to drive without any jerkiness, but Efficiency mode adds some dead travel at the top.
The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
Standard equipment on the Audi Q8 e-tron includes electrically adjustable front seats with four-way adjustable lumbar support and a memory function that allows the driver to save their preferred settings. Add in a good range of steering wheel adjustment (manual in lesser trims and powered in the top-spec Vorsprung) and you'll have no problem getting comfortable – or staying that way for long journeys.
There’s also a 12.3in digital display behind the steering wheel that Audi calls the Virtual Cockpit. It replaces conventional dials and can display a broad array of information clearly.
Unfortunately, the climate control is adjusted using an 8.6in touchscreen that’s mounted low down on the dashboard, forcing you to take your eyes off the road to change the settings. We'd prefer proper knobs and dials that you can adjust by feel (which you get in the BMW iX3 and the Jaguar I-Pace).
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
Forward visibility in the Q8 e-tron is good, despite it having a higher window line and dashboard than the BMW iX and the I-Pace. The front windscreen pillars are pretty slim while those at the rear are quite wide. Parking sensors (front and rear) and a rear-view camera are fitted to all models to help.
You can specify virtual door mirrors, which replace the conventional mirrors with cameras. They display an image on door-mounted screens positioned a little lower than they ideally would be, forcing you to look down at the door rather than across and out of the side window. They come as standard on Vorsprung trim, which also includes a 360-degree parking camera.
Visibility at night is aided by bright adaptive matrix LED headlights on all models.
Sat nav and infotainment
A second, 10.1in touchscreen can be found above the Q8 e-tron’s climate control panel, giving you access to the stereo, phone and sat-nav. It looks sharp and responds promptly to prods, with haptic feedback to confirm your selection.
A secondary rotary controller interface (as you get in the BMW electric SUVs) would minimise distraction further.
The long list of standard toys includes a DAB radio, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring, two USB ports and a 10-speaker stereo that includes a subwoofer. Vorsprung trim comes with an upgraded 705W B&O stereo with 16 speakers.
Audi is famous for the quality of its interiors, and the Q8 e-tron lives up to that reputation. It's vastly more impressive than the interior of any Tesla we've come across, for example, and right up there with the iX.
There are not many traditional buttons around the high-tech interior, but those you do get click precisely and satisfyingly. Plus, the dual-touchscreen layout provides some visual wow factor that's backed up by tactile soft-touch plastics, glitzy trims, chrome highlights and lots of leather.
You can opt for softer hide on the seats and have that extended to cover the dashboard and doors. Plus, there's a fine-grain ash wood option to replace metal trims if you prefer a more organic feel.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
You’re unlikely to struggle for leg or head room in the front of the Audi Q8 e-tron. And the front seats are a good distance apart to ensure you don’t rub shoulders or bang elbows with the person beside you.
Even the wide centre console, which features several handy storage spaces, doesn’t cramp the space for your legs. Meanwhile, other in-car storage includes a large glovebox and wide door bins.
There’s more than enough space in the back for a pair of six-footers to get comfortable. That's also the case in the BMW iX and the BMW iX3 but the roof of the Jaguar I-Pace curves down more dramatically towards the sides, and can leave tall passengers feeling a bit claustrophobic. The Mercedes EQC offers passengers in the back significantly less head and leg room.
Just bear in mind that the iX is more comfortable for a central rear passenger than the Q8 e-tron because it doesn’t have a hard central backrest and there’s no hump in the floor to straddle.
Seat folding and flexibility
The Q8 e-tron's rear seatbacks split and fold down in a 40/20/40 arrangement, allowing you to transport longer items between two rear passengers. The I-Pace and iX get the same 40/20/40 arrangement.
What’s more, handy levers in the boot allow you to drop the Q8 e-tron's rear seats from the luggage area. Once down, they do lie at a slight angle, but less than they do in an iX or I-Pace and you’re not left with a stepped floor area.
The Q8 e-tron’s boot has a volume of 569 litres beneath the parcel shelf and with the rear seats in place. For comparison, the I-Pace gives you 557 litres, while the EQC and the (non-electric) Audi Q5 all have 500 litres.
In our tests, it managed to swallow eight carry-on suitcases below its load cover – the same as the iX and one more than the I-Pace.
There's the smallest of load lips at the boot entrance, but once you're over that you'll find a large square load bay with a healthy amount of underfloor storage. There's a second, smaller storage area at the front of the car, but it's really only big enough for the charging cables.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
There are plenty of more affordable electric SUVs but the Audi Q8 e-tron is priced in line with its similarly luxurious main rivals, namely the BMW iX, the BMW iX3 and the Jaguar I-Pace. It costs a little less than the Mercedes EQC.
Like all those cars, it should be cheaper to run than an equivalent petrol or diesel SUV, especially if you’re a company car driver and/or can charge your car at home.
A full charge from a 7kW wallbox takes at least 14 hours, but charging rates of up to 170kW on the bigger battery and 150kW on the smaller one mean a 10-80% charge in around 30min is possible if you can find a suitably powerful public charger.
Equipment, options and extras
The list of standard equipment on the entry-level Sport trim includes heated front seats, leather upholstery, two-zone climate control, power-folding door mirrors, cruise control and a powered tailgate.
S line and Black Edition models bring more leather trim, sportier styling, privacy glass and 21in rather than 20in alloy wheels.
Range-topping Vorsprung trim brings enormous 22in alloys and comes with just about every option box ticked. It’s too expensive for us to recommend, though.
The Q8 e-tron was too new to be included in the 2022 What Car? Reliability Survey but the pre-facelift version finished eighth out of 14 cars in the electric car class. Among premium-badged rivals, only the Tesla Model 3 did better, while the I-Pace and the Tesla Model S were some way behind, in 13th and 14th place.
Audi as a brand finished 21st out of 32, putting it behind BMW and Tesla but ahead of Jaguar and Mercedes.
You get a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty, while the drive battery is covered for eight years or 100,000 miles.
Safety and security
The independent safety experts at Euro NCAP haven’t crash-tested the Q8 e-tron, but the structurally identical Audi e-tron was awarded the body’s maximum five-star rating in 2019.
It just pipped the I-Pace and the Tesla Model X for child occupant protection, but didn't score quite as well as they did for adult occupant protection.
Every Q8 e-tron comes with automatic emergency braking (AEB) and a lane-departure warning system. Plus, there are heaps more active safety aids that you can add via the options list, or by going for range-topping Vorsprung trim.
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The Q8 e-tron has Isofix child-seat mounting points on the outer two rear seats, and the front passenger seat (make sure the passenger airbag is deactivated if using this one).
The Q8 e-tron is slightly shorter than the Audi Q8 – measuring 4915mm from nose to tail, versus 4986mm. It's not as tall, at 1705mm versus 1633mm. Both cars are almost two metres wide before you factor in the door mirrors.
We recommend the mid-range 55 quattro version, which isn’t quite as quick as the SQ8 but still does 0-62mph in 5.6sec and has a longer range. Our pick of the trims is Sport.
|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, electric, petrol|
|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|