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Revamped Audi e-tron adds Q8 prefix and improved powertrains. Image by Audi.

Revamped Audi e-tron adds Q8 prefix and improved powertrains
Audiís mid-life refresh of its first EV is more than just a new name: itís got more power, range and a high-performance version too.
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What's all this about?

This is the Audi Q8 e-tron, but despite the new name, itís not a new car. See, this is an updated version of Audiís existing e-tron (the first electric car to come from the company back in 2018) and while it still retains the e-tron part of its name, the addition of the Q8 moniker positions it as Audiís flagship electric SUV.

Wait, thereís already a Q8, isnít there?

Yes, but that doesnít appear to be going anywhere. Rather, the new Q8 e-tron is expected to sit in Audiís line-up as an electric alternative to the combustion-powered Q8 despite being a smaller car and despite the arrival later this year or early next year of the all-new Q6 e-tron based on Audi-Porsche 800-volt PPE architecture as opposed to the Q8 e-tronís older MLB platform.

So what's new beyond the name?

The biggest things are the realignment of the range and the upgraded powertrains. There are three models in the line-up now (in both SUV and more rakish Sportback body styles) and, starting with the base-level Q8 50 e-tron, the battery sizes have been boosted for more range with improvements too to the motors for added performance and efficiency.

Take me through the changes there...

OK, starting with the 50 e-tron, thereís 95kWh (gross) battery pack providing power to two electric motors to send a maximum of 340hp and 664Nm of torque to the four wheels. Because of the Sportbackís more aerodynamic body, thereís a slight improvement in range over the standard SUV model, meaning a WLTP figure of 290 miles between charges versus 281 for the SUV. At a suitable power point, DC charging at up to 150kW is possible, highlighting the fact that the Q8 e-tron doesnít have the same bang-up-to-date electrical architecture as some other, newer premium EVs which allow for faster charging.

And the others?

The Q8 e-tron 55 (mid-tier) and SQ8 (top-of-the-range) receive a larger 114kWh battery pack, and itís the 55 that makes best use of the greater reserve to achieve a WLTP range of 330 miles for the SUV and 343 miles for the Sportback, despite being more powerful than the e-tron 50. While it achieves the same torque figure as the e-tron 50, the e-tron 55ís two motors produce 408hp, and the boost in power comes chiefly as a result of an improved rear motor which adds two electrical coils to the existing 12 meaning that the motor can return a greater output with less electrical input making it more powerful and more energy-efficient.

That leaves the SQ8...

Instead of the twin motors of the 50 and 55 models, the SQ8 is driven by three motors, with a 168hp motor up front and a pair of 133hp units turning each of the rear wheels, developing a total of 503hp and 973Nm of torque. The SQ8ís range is a little down on its dual-motor counterparts with 284 miles between recharging stops for the SUV and 295 for the Sportback.

Both the SQ8 and Q8 55 can be charged at a maximum of 170kW at a DC charger and, although 11kW AC charging is standard across all three models, thereís the option too of upgrading to 22kW capability.

Anything else new?

The updated model has seen a very light bit of restyling at the front and rear with spoilers to divert airflow around the wheels to reduce turbulence and active shutters on the grille; this makes both the SUV and Sportback models more aerodynamic and thus more efficient. The SUVís drag coefficient, for example, has been reduced from 0.28 to 0.26 which is a little more substantial than it sounds. Apart from the improved powertrains, only small changes have taken place under the skin with slight adjustments to the steering, air suspension and Electronic Stability Control system to make the car feel a little bit more composed and responsive in the corners.

Anything new inside?

Not a lot. Even those very familiar with Audiís dual-screen interiors wonít notice a huge level of difference, though there has been, Audi says, increased emphasis on the use of recycled materials in the carpeting, insulation and the microfibre Dinamica material used for some of the trim.

When is it arriving?

Orders open for the revised Q8 e-tron in mid-November, with the first UK deliveries expected next April. Pricing has yet to be confirmed.

David Mullen - 9 Nov 2022

2023 Audi SQ8 e-tron. Image by Audi.2023 Audi SQ8 e-tron. Image by Audi.2023 Audi SQ8 e-tron. Image by Audi.2023 Audi SQ8 e-tron. Image by Audi.2023 Audi SQ8 e-tron. Image by Audi.

2023 Audi SQ8 e-tron. Image by Audi.2023 Audi SQ8 e-tron. Image by Audi.2023 Audi SQ8 e-tron. Image by Audi.2023 Audi SQ8 e-tron. Image by Audi.2023 Audi SQ8 e-tron. Image by Audi.    - Audi road tests
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