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First drive: 2023 Audi Q8 e-tron. Image by Audi.

First drive: 2023 Audi Q8 e-tron
Does a minor facelift and a new name put the car formerly known as the e-tron to the top of the electric SUV pile?


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2023 Audi Q8 e-tron

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Like every other car maker, Audi is trying to grow its all-electric offerings, whether they come in the shape of sports cars or family SUVs. In the process, the German brand has built a fair few ‘e-tron’ models, including the Q4 e-tron and the RS e-tron GT, and that means the e-tron – by which we mean the big electric SUV – needs a new name. Audi has settled on ‘Q8 e-tron’, and it has given the car a few updates to celebrate its rebirth, but will that be enough to improve an already appealing luxury SUV?

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2023 Audi Q8 55 e-tron Black Edition
Price: From £84,435
Engine: two electric motors
Battery: 106kWh lithium-ion
Transmission: single-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Power: 408hp
Torque: 664Nm
Emissions: 0g/km
Range: 328 miles
0-62mph: 5.6 seconds
Top speed: 124mph
Boot space: 569 litres (plus 62-litre 'frunk')


Although the Q8 e-tron might have a new name, it doesn’t have an all-new body. The basic structure is much the same – incidentally using much the same platform as the Audi Q8 – and only the details have changed. Chief among those is the new front end with a new grille and a new Audi logo, as well as a full-width light strip for high-specification examples. There are reprofiled bumpers, too, and Audi has upgraded the aerodynamics to make the car more slippery, and therefore more efficient, than before.


Audi might have changed the Q8 e-tron’s external design, but differences in the cabin are few and far between. Barring the steering wheel, which has been updated very slightly since the e-tron was first introduced, it’s almost exactly the same as before.

That means you get a chunky, solid-looking design with modern cleanliness and predictably Germanic ergonomics. We aren’t completely sold on the gear selector, which is integrated into a weird arm rest arrangement on the centre console, but otherwise everything is more or less where you expect it to be. And, of course, it’s all incredibly solid to the touch, with fantastic materials that have been stuck together perfectly.

And it’s high-tech, too, with every Q8 e-tron getting Audi’s Virtual Cockpit digital instrument display, which is second to none. There’s a pair of central screens, too, with the upper screen offering the usual navigation and media features, while the lower screen provides the interface for climate control and other vehicle functions. The upper screen is fine, if a bit uninspiring, but the lower screen comes with strange haptic feedback that makes it feel very strange. Overall, we’d prefer to have physical buttons, which might be expensive to develop and implement but are much less distracting on the road.

We’d also prefer conventional door mirrors, which are fitted as standard on most models, but higher-specification examples come with the camera-based versions fitted here. Using a camera to ‘see’ down the flanks sounds like a good idea – particularly for aerodynamics – but they’re unintuitive and make the car difficult to position.


Of course, the conventional SUV version of the Q8 e-tron is the most practical of the two body shapes on offer, with 569 litres of boot space before you even think about folding down the back seats. That's quite a lot, yet Audi has still supplemented it with 62 litres of under-the-hood storage, which is useful for charging cables and the like.

But there's more to practicality than luggage space, and the Q8 e-tron is just as good as its predecessor when it comes to carrying passengers. Of course, it still only has five seats, but carrying four adults can be done with consummate ease. Head- and legroom is excellent no matter which version you choose.


Q8 e-tron customers will be faced with a choice of three different powertrains, with the basic ‘50’ model joined by the more powerful ‘55’ and the range-topping ‘S’ version. All three get two electric motors and all-wheel drive, but the 55 and S versions get a larger battery than the 50, which sits at the foot of the range.

We tested the mid-range, 408hp ‘55’ version, which gets a battery with 106kWh of usable capacity, and that allows it to cover up to 330 miles on a single charge, depending on which version you choose. Opt for the more streamlined Sportback model and the range grows to up to 343 miles, again depending on trim level.

Naturally, you’d be hard pressed to achieve those figures in the real world – about 250-275 miles between charges is probably more realistic – but as comparative figures they stand the Q8 e-tron in good stead alongside rivals from the likes of Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz. And with that much power on offer, you can’t complain about the performance. A 0-62mph time of 5.6 seconds is pretty sprightly, and the S version is even faster.

Ride & Handling

Like its predecessor, the Q8 e-tron is a heavy beast of burden, and that has a predictable impact on the handling. Audi claims it has sharpened the steering and the air suspension that’s standard across the range does a decent job of keeping that big body in check, but the overall impression is still one of bulk. It isn’t a bad car to drive – it’s surprisingly agile and it doesn’t roll too much – but it isn’t what you’d call sporty.

It is, however, quite comfortable. The suspension soaks up imperfections commendably, especially at higher speeds, and though the low-speed ride is less impressive over sharp imperfections, it never feels jarring or jagged. Team that with strong refinement credentials and you’ve got a car that manages to nail the brief for a luxury SUV, combining comfort and quietness with enough stability to handle corners.

And it should cope with a bit of light off-roading, too. Again the weight doesn’t necessarily work in its favour, but all Q8 e-trons come with all-wheel drive, and those who fit some good all-season tyres should enjoy ample capability in bad weather or over rough surfaces.


Obviously, the Q8 e-tron is an electric luxury SUV, and none of those words is synonymous with 'cheap'. Prices start at more than £67,000 for the basic SUV, with the more stylish Sportback commanding a £2,500 premium. Our mid-range test car, however, came in at around £85,000 before options, and that's quite a lot of money. Still, it included everything you really need, including heated seats, satellite navigation and a reversing camera.


It's really very difficult to find faults with the Q8 e-tron, but there are one or two to be found if you look hard enough or simply choose the wrong trim level. Get your specs right, however, and you'll be left with an unwaveringly competent premium SUV that now offers enough range to be a class leader. Perhaps it's a bit soulless, but the majority of customers won't have any problem with that.

James Fossdyke - 27 Mar 2023    - Audi road tests
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2023 Audi Q8 e-tron. Image by Audi.2023 Audi Q8 e-tron. Image by Audi.2023 Audi Q8 e-tron. Image by Audi.2023 Audi Q8 e-tron. Image by Audi.2023 Audi Q8 e-tron. Image by Audi.

2023 Audi Q8 e-tron. Image by Audi.2023 Audi Q8 e-tron. Image by Audi.2023 Audi Q8 e-tron. Image by Audi.2023 Audi Q8 e-tron. Image by Audi.


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