The SUV-coupe category doesn’t make sense to many (for more money we’ll give you less space in the back and worse practicality), but its popularity is still skyrocketing. They know about it at Audi, where the flagship model Q8 has already risen to the top of this year’s sales on the Czech market, surpassing even the more angular Q7. We tested the rejuvenated model full of small innovations in the wonderful surroundings of Cape Town, South Africa.
Before the first ride, some numbers. In the first ten months of this year, 687 units of Q8 were sold in our country, almost twice as much as in the previous year! For its most popular model, Audi probably followed the motto that things that work don’t need to be changed. Therefore, the modernization is carried out in a decent spirit and brings only subtle nuances.
Lights change the design
A handful of aesthetic modifications include modified filling of the Singleframe mask, reworked bumpers or a different appearance of the shod wheels, which have a diameter of nineteen to twenty-three inches. The Audi Q8 is a real piece of technology, and it looks the same in real life. On the other hand, the slope of the roof here is handled very elegantly, it does not catch the eye as much as in BMW or Mercedes. Even the Porsche Cayenne Coupé can do it with similar grace, which is definitely praise for the creator from Ingolstadt!
The most striking innovation of the facelift is clearly the redesigned lighting technology. There are three different diode variants to choose from at the front and two at the back. The highest specification headlights feature powerful non-glare HD Matrix LED technology, additional laser lights and digital daytime running lights.
In conjunction with the rear digital OLED lamps connected by a light strip, you can change the design of your car for the first time ever. No, we are not exaggerating. Through the multimedia menu, you can choose from four light designs (each front design is always paired with a rear design).
The top specifications of the rear lights then perform another safety function. When another car approaches behind a stationary Q8, all the LED elements light up so that the car can be clearly seen in a queue, for example. And the front lights? These are composed of twenty-four diodes and one high-performance laser diode, which is switched on from 70 km/h and significantly extends the range of the high beams.
A familiar environment
The cabin has not changed much compared to its predecessor. Screens still play a role – a digital instrument panel and two displays in the middle, the upper one with the multimedia system and the lower one controlling temperature comfort and other functions (it also serves as a tablet for writing commands, for example). The virtual cockpit can now display more detailed information about other traffic participants (trucks, motorcycles), and the main infotainment environment has also been slightly redesigned.
And how is life here? Like in cotton. The materials all around you are softened and very valuable to the touch. At the back, I can sit “on my own” with a height of 178 cm, without the sloping roof limiting me in any way. I have enough reserve in front of my knees and above my head. Luxurious leather surrounds me and my feet rest in pleasant rugs.
A large SUV includes large engines, you often write to us in discussions. Especially when such a car is almost five meters long and works with a curb weight of over two tons. They also know this well at Audi, so you won’t buy anything less than a six-cylinder in the Q8.
A total of three three-liter V6s are available – two diesels (170 and 210 kW) and one gasoline with a power of 250 kW. Do I hear the gentleman on the rear monitor talking about the V8? Don’t worry, it hasn’t been forgotten either: the SQ8 from Ingolstadt still has a V8 with a volume of 4.0 liters, an output of 507 horsepower and a torque of 770 newton meters. It conquers 100 km/h in 4.1 seconds and whizzes up to 250 km/h.
For the first ride, I choose the 50 TDI version, i.e. the more powerful six-cylinder diesel, which is expected to have the largest sales in the Czech Republic. The maximum output of 286 hp is followed by 600 newton meters of torque, which sounds like a promise of decent dynamics. It reaches 100 km/h in 6.1 seconds and reaches a top speed of 241 km/h. Diesel has a rougher character, but again, thanks to the huge portion of the crank, it pulls like a locomotive under all circumstances. Without making any effort to operate economically, after three hundred kilometers the on-board computer shows an average consumption of 8.1 l/100 km.
The next day we get into a six-cylinder gasoline engine, it has a power of 340 horsepower and a torque of 500 Nm, it can do 100 km/h in 5.6 seconds and accelerates to 250 km/h. It is not only more alive on paper, but above all in feeling – it reacts faster to pressing the gas pedal and, compared to the turbodiesel, it also has a significantly smoother ride. At a more comfortable pace, the average consumption is 10.5 l/100 km, a more dynamic drive is less than twelve.
|Number of cylinders
|170 kW (231 hp)
|210 kW (286 hp)
|250 kW (340 hp)
|373 kW (507 hp)
|8 l/100 km
|8 l/100 km
|10.2 l/100 km
|12 l/100 km
|2 160 kg
|2 160 kg
|2 100 kg
|2 240 kg
In the air and in the raid
Steel springs with electronically controlled dampers are standard on the Q8. However, we have an example to test here with additional air suspension with continuously adaptive shock absorbers and active steering of the rear axle. At low speeds, the rear wheels turn up to five degrees against the front wheels, reducing the turning radius by a meter.
And the advantages of the sophisticated solution are evident from the first meters. We easily overcome the narrow streets in the center, as if we were not even sitting in a five-meter SUV, but a much smaller Q3. When you think of South Africa, you might think of well-trodden roads that haven’t been touched in decades. However, the transport infrastructure around Cape Town is extremely advanced and the roads are of high quality.
The chassis just swings gracefully on small bumps, and if you “take” a bigger pothole somewhere, only a muffled thump is heard from below. Although the Q8 is not primarily built for sporty handling, it is not afraid of brisk pace. I send it more sharply into the zigzags – although I still take into account its weight – and the car is neutral for a long time, reacts sharply to steering wheel instructions and passes through tight turns with minimal body roll. Although it does not fool physics, this SUV disguises its tall structure very well.
The facelifted Audi Q8 can be ordered on the Czech market as early as September, the first customers could wait until the end of this year. The basic diesel costs 2,039,900 CZK, for a more powerful one, an additional 106,000 is paid. The rebound of the 340-horsepower petrol car is not significant, you have to find 2,152,900 CZK from the cash box. The SQ8 flew to less than three million, which, however, has a host of otherwise additional features as standard, such as 21″ wheels, air suspension or a reinforced brake system.