Used test: Audi Q8 vs Range Rover Velar

Buy either of these uber-stylish luxury SUVs at a couple of years old and you could save a fortune, but which makes more sense? We've got the answer.....

Used test: Audi Q8 vs Range Rover Velar
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What Car? team
6 Dec 2019 10:30

The Contenders

Audi Q8 50 TDI quattro S line

List price when new: £65,040

Price today:  £46,000

Available from 2018-present

Based on the class-leading Q7 but with two fewer seats and much sportier handling.

Range Rover Velar D240 R-Dynamic HSE

List price when new:  £64,620

Price today: £44,500

Available from  2018-present

The Velar might only pack a 2.0-litre punch in this version but it is cheaper than the Q8 to buy.

Price today is based on a 2018 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing

Years ago, if you wanted a stylish or sporty-looking car you had to be prepared to compromise. Chances are you’d have been choosing between a coupé or a convertible, meaning just two doors and a cramped interior. 

Such days are well and truly behind us, though. First, five-door coupés such as the Audi A5 Sportback and BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé proved that it was possible to combine practicality with a healthy dose of style. And then manufacturers decided to apply the formula to SUVs, creating a whole new brand of low-roofed SUV-coupés.

Of these, one of the most popular is the Audi Q8, which is based on the Q7. It swaps the Q7’s third row of seats for a tapering roofline and a much more imposing front end. Meanwhile, the upmarket Range Rover Velar may be the firm’s most road-focused model, but its glamorous looks have won it many admirers - in many ways it’s a natural rival for the Q8.

Buy either of these two cars at a couple of years old and you’ll save enough on the price of a new one to pay for a six-month luxury round the world cruise for all the family. But which SUV-coupe should you choose? Read on to find out. 

What are they like to drive? 

Despite costing a similar amount to buy either new or, as tested here, at a couple of years old, there are some pretty big differences under the bonnets of these SUVs. With 237bhp from its twin-turbo 2.0-litre diesel engine, the Velar isn’t exactly malnourished, yet the Q8 trumps it quite comfortably, thanks to a 3.0-litre V6 diesel that packs a thumping 282bhp. True, you can buy a more powerful, V6 Velar, but it will cost you thousands more, even on the used market. 

Audi Q8

While the Q8 sprinted from 0-60mph in 6.3sec in our tests, the Velar could manage only 8.6sec, some 1.3sec slower than Land Rover’s figure. The Velar was also significantly slower during our rolling acceleration tests, taking 2.4sec longer to get from 30-70mph, for example.

But let’s put things into perspective here: the Velar will be brisk enough for most people. It still gets up to motorway speeds in a respectable time and overtaking isn’t too fraught.

The Q8 doesn’t just go like a hot hatch in a straight line; it would give one a nasty surprise on a twisty road, too. All versions come with adaptive air suspension that’s uncanny in its ability to keep this 2.2-tonne SUV upright in corners. Grip is impressive, while the steering is precise and more consistently weighted than the Velar’s, making it easier to place the car exactly where you want it.

Range Rover Velar front three quarters

Meanwhile, the Velar leans over dramatically in corners, with little sense that its body movements are being controlled. And while air suspension is an option, it’s not one that sharpens up the handling a great deal, so you can’t make the most of the accurate steering.

Take a less challenging route, however, and the Velar’s squidgy standard suspension means it’s noticeably more comfortable on its standard 21in wheels. It wafts along pleasantly, doing a fine job of smoothing out road imperfections, whereas the Q8, on the optional 22in wheels of our test car, always feels like it’s fidgeting over something, although it never crashes or bangs.

Sadly, while the Velar has a ride that soothes, it’s louder than the Q8 at all speeds, letting in more wind whistle and tyre roar, and its engine doesn’t sound as sweet.

Both cars have automatic gearboxes that change gear smoothly most of the time but are hesitant to respond when you ask for a burst of acceleration. This can make entering a busy road or roundabout a leap of faith.

 Next: What are they like inside? >

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