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Driven: 2023 Audi Q8 Sportback e-tron. Image by Audi.

Driven: 2023 Audi Q8 Sportback e-tron
Does the more rakish Sportback version of Audi’s largest electric SUV make any sense at all?


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2023 Audi Q8 Sportback e-tron

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The car formerly known as the e-tron has evolved to become the Q8 e-tron, unless you're talking about the fastback version. Confusingly dubbed the Q8 Sportback e-tron, it's designed to offer all the comfort and class of the SUV, but with a slightly more stylish shape that comes at the cost of practicality. And a slightly higher list price. But is it a sacrifice worth making?

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2023 Audi Q8 Sportback e-tron 55 Quattro 300kW Launch Edition
Price: £99,095 as tested
Engine: two 150kW electric motors
Transmission: single-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Battery: 114kWh lithium-ion battery (106kW net)
Power: 408hp
Torque: 664Nm
Emissions: 0g/km
Range: 336 miles
0-62mph: 5.6 seconds
Top speed: 124mph
Boot space: 528 litres (plus 62-litre frunk)


From the front doors forward, the Sportback looks much the same as a conventional Q8 e-tron, with the same big front grille and muscular design, as well as the optional digital mirrors fitted to this test car. Instead of larger, conventional mirrors, the system uses cameras to look down the car's flanks, making the car more aerodynamic without reducing visibility. At least in theory. But further back, it's all change, with a sleeker roofline and a rakish rear window that gives the car hints of coupe and hatchback designs. To us, it looks a little odd on such a big car, but those that like the style will be sold on the Audi's clean, Germanic design.


For those in the front, the Sportback's cabin is also identical to that of the standard Q8 e-tron, with the same chunky yet high-tech ambience that is common to so many of Audi's larger SUVs. The gear selector in the arm rest remains a little odd, though you would doubtless get used to it over time, but the ergonomics are otherwise very good, and the whole cabin is beautifully built.

There's a big focus on technology, too, with the two-screen infotainment system and Audi's Virtual Cockpit digital instrument display. The two-screen system works fairly well, although the lower screen is focussed on climate control, and we'd rather use proper switches and dials for that. That said, the top screen works really well, even if the design is a bit uninspiring, and it's fully integrated with the Virtual Cockpit, which is a triumph. Clear, easy to read and highly customisable, it's the gold standard for the market.

Unfortunately, the digital mirrors set a somewhat less promising standard, and really aren't worth the money. The view is odd, they take a while to get used to and the view doesn't change when you move your head, which means you have to adjust them to see a little further across. And even then, the resolution isn't high enough and the way the camera plays with your sense of distance makes them near useless.


It comes as no surprise to find that chopping away part of the Q8 e-tron's boot to create the Sportback has left a shortfall in spaciousness. For those in the back seats, there's a little less headroom, although only the outrageously tall will struggle for space, and there's a bit less boot space, too. Although the difference is not as great as you might expect. Where the 'normal' Q8 e-tron has a 569-litre boot, the Sportback offers a 528-litre luggage bay, and both cars get the same 62-litre front storage bay for storing cables and so on. That said, the numbers only tell half the story, because boot space is measured to the window line, so it doesn't take the glasshouse into account. That's important because the standard Q8 e-tron has more space above the window line, making it easier to carry taller and bulkier objects that would shatter the glass of the Sportback if you tried to fit them in.


In essence, Q8 Sportback e-tron customers get a choice of three different powertrains, with the basic 50 e-tron Quattro joined by the 55 e-tron Quattro tested here and the even more powerful SQ8 Sportback e-tron model. All three are pretty potent – the basic 50 e-tron comes with 340hp, while the 55 e-tron has 408hp and the SQ8 gets just over 500hp – so they’re all pretty quick, with this mid-range version getting from 0-62mph in about five-and-a-half seconds.

You might expect range to work the other way around, with the 50 getting the most from its battery, but because it only has a 95kWh battery (of which just 89kWh is usable) it manages approximately 273-292 miles from a single charge on the official economy test. The 55, with its 114kWh battery (106kWh of which is usable), can cover 320-344 miles on the same test. In the real world, though, you’re probably looking at around 250 miles or so on a single charge. That said, both cars are slightly more efficient than their SUV-shaped equivalents, so the fastback shape offers more than just style.

Ride & Handling

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the car's immense size and weight, Audi has set the Q8 Sportback e-tron up to be comfortable, and it largely delivers. The suspension really soaks up the bumps very well, particularly on the motorway, and though the ride is more jagged at lower speeds and around town, where the car's weight is a more serious handicap, it never gets uncomfortable. Despite that, the car handles fairly tidily for something so big, with sharper suspension and steering than in the old e-tron Sportback. It isn't sporty by any stretch, but it doesn't roll too much and the weight is generally well controlled. The brakes are good, too, and refinement is excellent.


The Q8 e-tron range starts at a fairly competitive £68,685, which sounds like a lot, but it's the going rate for a big SUV, let alone an electric SUV. The Sportback models, however, command a bit of a premium, taking the starting price to £72,695. And our test car, in First Edition trim and with the compelling 55 Quattro powertrain, came in at just shy of £100,000. It's a lot of money no matter which way you cut it, and with all things other than boot space and headroom being equal, it's difficult to call the Sportback good value alongside a sibling that's more conventionally shaped and £4,000 cheaper.


The Q8 e-tron has plenty going for it, including its classy interior and ample space, and opting for the Sportback doesn't harm either attribute too greatly. But when you can have much the same car for slightly less money, and get a fraction more practicality at the same time, it makes justifying the Sportback model quite difficult. But if you dig the design, there's nothing about the Sportback that's going to put you off.

James Fossdyke - 12 Oct 2023    - Audi road tests
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2023 Audi Q8 Sportback e-tron 55 Quattro. Image by Audi.2023 Audi Q8 Sportback e-tron 55 Quattro. Image by Audi.2023 Audi Q8 Sportback e-tron 55 Quattro. Image by Audi.2023 Audi Q8 Sportback e-tron 55 Quattro. Image by Audi.2023 Audi Q8 Sportback e-tron 55 Quattro. Image by Audi.

2023 Audi Q8 Sportback e-tron 55 Quattro. Image by Audi.2023 Audi Q8 Sportback e-tron 55 Quattro. Image by Audi.2023 Audi Q8 Sportback e-tron 55 Quattro. Image by Audi.2023 Audi Q8 Sportback e-tron 55 Quattro. Image by Audi.2023 Audi Q8 Sportback e-tron 55 Quattro. Image by Audi.


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