Of all the luxury carmakers, Audi was the first to have an actual EV model on dealers’ showrooms, and before the Big Three did. And within that time, they managed to produce a very compelling AWD SUV in the form of their top-line, flagship Q8 Sportback S line e-tron midsize quattro (AWD).
Since its introduction, the Q8-e (we’ll call it for brevity) has an extended range of up to 300 miles on a full-charge. And it is one good looking SUV with its large front air intake scoops and Matrix-designed LED headlights that can change its light pattern for maximum roadway coverage. When opening the doors, neat puddle lights illuminate the area within the door opening.
Under the hood, and in place of an engine, is a frunk for small item storage. And in the back, there’s a trunk lip spoiler for a sporty, racy look. Also a first are dual charging ports on the front fenders. The driver’s side port is for a fast charger, the passenger side is for low voltage charging.
Audi’s interior, oh it’s interior, is luxury personified and comfortable to boot with massaging, heated/ventilated leather front seats with extended under thigh support and perfect lumbar support. Even the pillars are sueded. And Audi was the also the first to offer a digital gauge cluster that is referred to as a Virtual Cockpit that serves a host of features, functions and alerts. Across the dash is a dual display. The top is the infotainment screen that hosts a huge number of functions including remaining battery charge, range, drive modes, parking assist choices, rear and frontal cameras, navigation w/charging station locations, chassis lift and more. The lower display is for the 4-zone HVAC system. Both are vivid, colorful, touch sensitive and relatively easy to use.
Q8-e’s push button gear selector, supplemented with paddle shifters, is on the deep console and takes some getting used to. Nestled beneath it is a large wireless phone charging pad. Audi engineers did a superb job in designing the stack/console combination.
Another fine point is that when engaging Park gear, the parking brake automatically sets, and releases when selecting Drive gear.
After a low 18-inch step-in, back seat passengers are treated to sumptuously padded heated back seats with ample leg and head room for two adults or three youngsters. The doors open wide for easy ingress/egress.
Back in the cargo area, and with the rear seatbacks upright, there’s 27.2 cubic feet of cargo space that measures 42 inches deep, 43 wide and 28 high. Flip them and capacity increases to 54.5 cubic feet for 72 inches of loading depth. Lift-over into the cargo bed is a low 31 inches. And below it resides a space saver spare tire and an 8-inch dee bin for small item storage.
Shod with Michelin 22-inch tires. Q8e rides heavenly smooth on its air suspension and it’s ultra-quiet. Crack a window and only a subtle whine from the electric motors at each axle can be heard. We did notice a peculiarity when waiting for a signal light to change at an incline. If releasing the foot brake, the car drifts rearward. On today’s gasoline powered cars, that usually doesn’t occur.
Handling is precise and stable through sharp tight turns and it parks easily with a 40-foot turn diameter. There is no body lean thanks to Q8e’s hefty 7,010 pound curb weight.
Power wise, with the electric motors, single speed trans and quattro (AWD), they produce 355-hp and 414 lb/ft of torque. Switch to Dynamic mode and you can get a sudden burst of extra power that allows the Q8e to sprint from 0-60 sprint in 6.5 seconds according to Audi.
With its heavy weight and heavy battery, acceleration is quick with push-you-back-in-the-seat G’s. But because of its weight, it wasn’t as quick or head-snapping as Volkswagen’s smaller/lighter ID-4 we tested. EPA combined mileage estimates offer 87 MPGe or 84 city, 90-highway MPGe.
Q8e S line came loaded with all the latest safety features such as lane departure warning, Audi side blind spot warning, tire pressure warning and many more. In addition to a panoramic sunroof, satellite radio and loads more, the Audi came with an Integrated Nationwide Toll Collection System. Another first in cars we’ve tested.
The Q8e S Line quattro carried a base price of $77,800. Added to that was Daytona Gray Pearl affect paint ($595), Flint Gray Interior ($10,400), Prestige Package ($10,400), Launch Edition ($3,750), AC Charging Package ($1,850), rear side airbags ($400 another first) and delivery (41,195) that took the bottom line to an astounding $95,990. If you can afford it, the Q8e is one beautiful, superb riding/handling SUV that happens to be an EV.
Now here’s the undesirable part. The closest EV charging station close to me is five miles away. It’s an Electrify America charger with two Hyper Fast 350kw and two 150kw chargers. Of course everyone wants the fast chargers so they don’t have to hang around and wait longer than they have to. Well since the Q8e was scheduled to be returned, I had a choice to get out of bed at 3 a.m. to get it charged when no one would probably be there, or sit in the car and wait until one became available as this foursome always seems to be occupied. I opted to wait it out there until one became available. That was a 45-minute wait until a VW Ionic pulled out from a fast charger so I quickly grabbed it. For a 90 percent charge it took 43 minutes for a cost of $29.27. As in the past with two other EVs, I look across the street at a Sunoco gas station where I could have been in and out of there in five minutes. Of course there’s always installing a home charger. I received price quotes of from $1,200 to $2,000 unless there’s an electrician in the family who won’t charge for his services.
Lastly, the Q8e had a four out of five-star government safety rating for driver/passenger frontal crash. Side crash and rollover were not rated.
The Q8e is covered by a 4 year/50K new vehicle warranty, 8/100K high-voltage battery coverage, 12-year perforation and 4 years of roadside assistance.