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Audi Q8 e-tron edition Dakar is off-road electric SUV. Image by Audi.

Audi Q8 e-tron edition Dakar is off-road electric SUV
Beefy makeover is an homage to German firm's RS Q e-tron rally-raid machine.
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What's all this about?

It marks the point where Audi attempts to reap back some of the investment it's made into its cross-country racing programme. The Q8 e-tron edition Dakar is designed to make a link between the German firm's production models and the exploits of its competition department, chiefly the wild-looking RS Q e-tron that competes in cross-country rallies, including the flagship event, the Dakar.

Cool. So is this Q8 ready to hit the dunes?

Sort of. Audi has seen fit to give it a proper off-road makeover at least, with the most obvious upgrades over the 55 e-tron on which it's based being additional wheelarch cladding and the fitting of General Grabber all-terrain tyres at each corner.

The ride height has also been raised by 65mm over the standard car's to create 220mm of ground clearance, although the air suspension lowers at higher speeds to boost aerodynamic efficiency. Audi quotes approach and departure angles of 21 and 28 degrees, respectively, while the suspension has been revised to meet the requirements of typical off-road driving. The press release only goes as far as saying that the edition Dakar is "well prepared to tackle light off-road terrain", though a 300mm wading depth is only average at best.

Ah, so probably not one to follow the RS Q e-tron into the wilderness...

Unlike the competition machine, which can cover longer rally-raid distances thanks to a range-extending set-up that marries two electric motors from a Formula E single seater with a 2.0 TFSI petrol generator, the Q8 e-tron edition Dakar is still a pure EV (electric vehicle). However, with the same 106kWh battery (that's the net capacity) as the standard 55 e-tron, the Q8 edition Dakar has an official range of 280 miles.

For further proof of its incompatibility with the actual Dakar, the special edition features a luxuriously appointed interior. It comes in S line spec, so features two-zone climate control, microfibre and artificial leather seat trim, plus a host of electronic goodies, including a triple-screen dashboard set-up that includes bespoke Dakar graphics.

The off-road extras also include a standard-fit roof rack that's rated to carry up to 40kg of kit, while the Q8 e-tron's boot is fitted with a luggage liner as standard. And if you don't need to use the all-terrain tyres, Audi supplies a set of summer tyres on 20-inch wheels with the car so that you can switch between rubber depending on your needs.

Sounds like it's well equipped.

Yes, but there are still options available. Buyers can choose between Siam Beige, Mythos Black or Magnetic Grey metallic paint finishes, while a limited run of 99 cars will be offered with a unique decal pack (as pictured here) that mirrors the look of the RS Q e-tron rally car. Finished in Mythos Black, the wrap covers the whole car, but the graphics break up across the bodywork for a distinctive effect.

Elsewhere, the black-finished 'singleframe' grille up front can be specced with an LED light bar that connects the headlamp units on either side. There's also the option to upgrade to a Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system, while Audi's drag-reducing door mirror cameras are on offer, too.

That sounds good, but I bet it all comes at a price.

While the Q8 e-tron edition Dakar will certainly be less expensive than the RS Q e-tron rally raid machine that it takes inspiration from, there's one small question that still needs to be addressed. Orders for the edition Dakar open for German customers in the first quarter of 2024, but there has been no confirmation on whether the car will be sold in right-hand-drive markets. With such a low profile for the Dakar on these shores, we're sure that there will be questions asked about whether it's even worth bringing the Q8 e-tron edition Dakar to the UK.

Shane O' Donoghue - 3 Jan 2024

2024 Audi Q8 e-tron edition Dakar. Image by Audi.2024 Audi Q8 e-tron edition Dakar. Image by Audi.2024 Audi Q8 e-tron edition Dakar. Image by Audi.2024 Audi Q8 e-tron edition Dakar. Image by Audi.2024 Audi Q8 e-tron edition Dakar. Image by Audi.

2024 Audi Q8 e-tron edition Dakar. Image by Audi.2024 Audi Q8 e-tron edition Dakar. Image by Audi.2024 Audi Q8 e-tron edition Dakar. Image by Audi.2024 Audi Q8 e-tron edition Dakar. Image by Audi.2024 Audi Q8 e-tron edition Dakar. Image by Audi.    - Audi road tests
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