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SQ8 E-Tron and Audi’s Next EVs

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Big and extremely high-priced it may be yet the new Audi Q8 e-tron is doing perhaps surprisingly well when it comes to sales results

SQ8 e-tron’s three motors – of which two are on the back axle – produce a combined 503 PS
SQ8 e-tron’s three motors – of which two are on the back axle – produce a combined 503 PS

The Volkswagen Group recently announced which EVs were its best performers of 2023. Number one by far was the combined ID.4/ID.5 (223,100), followed by the ID.3 (140,800) then Audis Q4/Q4 Sportback (111,700), the Škoda Enyaq & Coupé (81,700) and in fifth place what is now called the Q8 e-tron & Q8 e-tron Sportback (49,000).

Didn’t this used to be called e-tron S quattro?

A refresher of what this model is may be needed here. When Audi launched the e-tron in 2020, the PR spin was that the name would in time be seen as the electric equivalent of the original Quattro. Then came a second body style, called Sportback, along with a three-motor (versus two) faster variant. The e-tron badge was subsequently rolled out to ever more EVs, each one taking either an A- or Q-plus-number. And in certain countries (the UK is one such), two further digits which are meant to signify standard, more or even more power. I know: perplexing.

As other e-Audi SUVs appeared, the original e-tron and e-tron Sportback were looking a bit out on their own. Thus when it came to mid-life update time, Q8 was added. This also meant buyers could see where the pair sit in the line-up. At this point it’s probably best not to mention the China-specific SAIC-VW Audi Q5 e-tron, which is only a little shorter than the Q8 e-tron. Or the Q8 which is not the same model as the Q8 e-tron.

Is there still a Sportback body alternative?

What matters most is that potential customers now see exactly what the SQ8 e-tron and its Sportback alternative are: a big electric SUV and a similarly large coupé-SUV. They have the same power and torque outputs as the pre-facelift variants, those having been badged e-tron S quattro and e-tron S quattro Sportback.

The 2024 model line also consists of the Q8 e-tron 50 (183 kW & 664 Nm) and Q8 e-tron 55 (220 kW & 664 Nm) as well as a Sportback of each. What do 50 and 55 mean? Nothing much, there to show one has more power and a larger battery capacity than the next. So then why no 60 or 65 for the SQ8 e-tron? Why indeed. Little wonder that Audi USA rejected the then-new extra digits system a few years back.

Audi recently let me loose in the fastest and heaviest variant of the line-up, the SQ8 e-tron. And with the press tester weighing in at an astounding GBP115,000+, including options, I had a week to assess if the red rocket was worth all that money.

Its maker reckons the SQ8 can deliver up to 276 miles (WLTP) between charges yet I saw only a little over 200 miles. That was OK but anyone new to EVs needs to be aware of what chilly weather can do to battery performance. And as all those Tesla owners on the news recently would attest, juicing up takes a bit longer too.

“Sexier than an SQ8“ says every one of the (two) men we surveyed

Is the waiting and need to accelerate slowly sometimes worth it? Definitely. This car is quite an experience in many ways, commencing with how it looks. The fire engine red of the one Audi lent me is recommended if you like attention.

A self-declared Q8 (the ICE kind) driver came over to me as I was getting back into the car outside a café. He knew all about it and wondered should he get one of these next. Which explained to this mere journalist who exactly would spend six figures on an electric Audi? As much as I loved the plug-in SQ8, that question had been on my mind for days.

My new friend loved having a sit and was amused by what he saw when I popped the bonnet: a smaller plastic one. Lift this and you see an integrated and branded (of course!) zip-bag for cables. And the looks? Potential buyer man reckoned the Q8 e-tron (as an SQ8) is way sexier than an SQ8 TFSI. I tend to agree and did not tire of admiring its gorgeous front, rear and sides. The projected light show from the 2D four rings logo on the grille never got old either. It happens every time you lock/unlock.

Nine hundred and seventy three units of twist

If much of the appeal starts the moment you set eyes on the thing or open any door/the tailgate to see the finish of the interior materials, it becomes even stronger when considering the powertrain. How does three hundred and seventy kilowatts sound? With total torque just 27 newton metres shy of four figures.

You can imagine how this five-metre long vehicle surges off the line should you so wish. Any owner really must consider buying shares in the relevant tyre-maker. And not just because of how much joy is possible via the right (wide, wet, empty) roundabouts but like all weighty EVs, they will be wearing down faster than in something like a 600+ kilos lighter (yes really) RS 6 Avant.

Cell block H (for Hefty)

Where is all the mass, you will be wondering? Step forward a bulky battery with a net capacity of 106 kWh (114 gross). From a three-pin socket, this can take more than two days to replenish, not that anyone would do that, but just to show how much charge goes into a cells set of this size.

Replenishment via fast charger can be done at up to 170 kW. Incidentally, the Q8 e-tron 55s have the same battery but the 50 and 50 Sportback instead come with an 89 kWh pack (95 kWh gross).

On The Inside

Pull a door open, step in and, as I noted above, the whole atmosphere is very high-end, though some may consider the two glass screens a touch old-tech in 2024. To me, they were great, not too big and rarely nagged the driver. Ergo, a true premium experience.

Some things are less than ideal. Such as multiple presses and menu scrolling to activate the likes of steering wheel heating. A button by your thumb is so much better. Still, at least the Audi has quite a few solid, lovely-feeling switches for certain functions. The doors are fantastically heavy too, the glass thick and silence is the reality.

Ultra sound

Because the SQ8 e-tron is quiet, you get to enjoy a genuinely great artificial sound. These things are hard to describe and never would I prefer it over the likes of the sadly discontinued SQ8 TDI. Hey, that one emitted fake noise too. Even if its 4.0-litre biturbo V8 hardly needed amplification. The e-tron is like a whole choir of Renault Zoes. That’s a big compliment coming from me who loves the bass-heavy purring-booms of the Volkswagen Group’s eight-cylinder engines present (4.0 TFSI) and past.

This review would not be complete without the one especially superb thing about the big Audi EV: how it handles. In a word, phenomenally. Even BMW iX drivers will be impressed. The torque vectoring system and surely the best steering of any Audi SUV combine to make you think the SQ8 is a tonne lighter than it is. Did I also mention near-perfect calibration from the air suspension?


This is easily the finest electric Audi money can buy. So long as you don’t find the upfront cost, well, affronting.

Pricing for the Audi SQ8 e-tron starts at GBP99,010. Zero to 62 mph takes a stated 4.5 seconds and top speed is 130 mph (210 km/h). The same performance data apply for the Sportback.

The press tester came with optional Soneira Red paint (GBP1,495) and in Vorsprung model grade which includes features such as cameras instead of mirrors. Total RRP for this car: GBP115,280.

New and next Audi highlights

Audi keeps on filling in the number gaps, as the facelifts and new names for the latest Q8 e-tron and SQ8 e-tron models demonstrates. So what might come next? Well, we know already about a further novelty, that being the Q6 L e-tron.

Pre-production of this electric SUV commenced at the Audi FAW New Energy Vehicle plant in Chanchun on 26 January. The Jilin province factory is said to be producing only a long-wheelbase body for the local market, while another site in Europe should produce the standard length Q6 e-tron. Audi FAW NEV will also be the lead plant in China for the as yet unseen A6 e-tron, due later in 2024 too.

Fast estates will remain part of the future model strategy, with an RS 6 Avant e-tron said to be on the way. There was a concept version back in 2022 and like the production model, this EV will use the Audi-Porsche PPE architecture.

Where there are new cars, inevitably existing ones begin to be phased out. One of the best will disappear soon, that being the R8. Audi’s Böllinger Höfe in Neckarsulm is due to produce the final example during the last week of March.

Speaking of manufacturing, some say that build of all six Q8 variants will be moved from Forest in suburban Brussels to both a VW facility in Puebla (Mexico) and an FAW-Audi site in Changchun (China). The company is yet to either confirm or deny this speculation.

Source from Just Auto

Disclaimer: The information set forth above is provided by just-auto.com independently of Alibaba.com. Alibaba.com makes no representation and warranties as to the quality and reliability of the seller and products.

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