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First drive: 2024 Audi Q8. Image by Audi.

First drive: 2024 Audi Q8
Changes to the Q8 are minor, but will that be enough to ensure the big Audi is among the front-runners in the luxury SUV market?

   



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2024 Audi Q8

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Do not adjust your screens: this really is the new Audi Q8. It may not have changed much, but it is the new car, complete with some mild tech and styling tweaks and not a lot else. You see, Audi's luxury SUVs sell well, and it seems the German company is loath to tweak anything too much in case it ruins a successful package. But with such a rapid pace of change among other luxury cars, has the Q8 evolved enough to keep up?

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2024 Audi Q8 50 TDI Quattro S Line
Price: From £75,500
Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged mild-hybrid V6 diesel
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Power: 286hp
Torque: 600Nm
Emissions: 224g/km
Economy: 33.2mpg
0-62mph: 6.1 seconds
Top speed: 150mph
Boot space: 605 litres

Styling

From the outset, it's pretty obvious that the new Q8 is only a mild update on its predecessor. Yes, there's a new logo on the grille, and there's a new front bumper, but that's about it. Oh, yes, there are some new headlights and tail lights that allow you to personalise the light signature, but otherwise it's a case of new paint jobs and new alloy wheel designs, with 21-, 22- and 23-inch rims available. There's a new Sakhir Gold paint job, too, but we'd leave that well alone; it's the colour of your grandfather's trousers.

Interior

If you thought the Q8ís exterior was much the same as before, then you havenít seen anything yet, because the updated Q8ís cabin is almost identical to that of its predecessor. In fact, the only real change of note is a selection of new decorative dashboard trims, including wood, aluminium and carbon options.

Not that weíre complaining particularly. The Q8ís cabin has always been a shining example of how to build an interior, with lots of great materials and a masterclass in how to stitch them together. Everything feels really solid and robust, and though itís beginning to age, the chunky design still looks pretty cool. Our only real complaint, then, is the extensive use of glossy black plastic, which becomes instantly grubby the moment you touch it.

Strangely enough, considering Audiís motto, the Q8ís in-car technology is a bit of a let-down. Despite its advancing years, the Virtual Cockpit technology is still class-leading, but the touchscreens in the middle of the dash leave something to be desired. The issue isnít so much the design or the displays Ė the menus are generally logical, and though the lower screen is used for climate control, itís far from the worst touchscreen heater control integration on the market Ė but the way in which you interact with them. Thereís this strange haptic feedback that encourages you to prod the screen quite aggressively, and that feels both unintuitive and abusive.

Practicality

Fortunately, because so little has changed inside the Q8, it's just as practical as ever, with loads of space for people and their belongings. Up front, there's ample room for both driver and passenger, and the rear cabin is remarkably spacious considering this is a semi-coupe SUV. Headroom back there is good, even for tall adults, and legroom is even better, although there's no option of a third row of seating. Boot space is also ample, and the 605-litre capacity will be more than large enough to deal with most eventualities.

Performance

Just as the interior is unchanged, so too is the engine range. Initially, Audi is offering a choice of big 3.0-litre petrol and diesel engines, plus a 4.0-litre SQ8 model, although plug-in hybrid options are expected in the next year or so.

For the time being, then, perhaps the best balance of performance and economy can be found in the 3.0-litre diesel '50 TDI' tested here. With 286hp heading to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox that's standard across the range, it'll get from 0-62mph in a hot-hatch-rivalling 6.1 seconds and it'll top out at 150mph. More importantly, the diesel engine will return more than 30mpg, whereas the petrol options most definitely will not.

More impressive than the facts and figures, however, is the way in which the diesel engine manages to be so refined. Sure, it's a little gruff in the mornings when it's cold (aren't we all?), but when you're off and running it's remarkably smooth and quiet, particularly in the cruise. And while it gets noisier when it lifts its skirts, there's so much punch that you really won't mind all that.

Ride & Handling

Audi hasn't touched the Q8's chassis, either, and that's a bit of a shame. There's nothing especially wrong with the way the Q8 drives - it's stable and secure, and it's a very amiable motorway cruiser - but there's nothing especially right about it either. The steering is fine, but it's inert and isolating compared with the Cayenne's more tactile approach, and though body roll is well controlled, especially in the sportier driving modes, the Cayenne remains much more agile and more receptive to enthusiastic driving.

The Q8 should be lauded, though, for its refinement, which is very good indeed. Whether you choose petrol or diesel power, the engines are smooth and more than sufficiently powerful, which gives it an air of effortlessness. The ride is a mixed bag, with a slightly choppy low-speed ride, particularly over sharper imperfections such as potholes. Over longer-wavelength bumps and undulations, however, it's sublime. Get it into its lope at higher speeds and it's a great cruiser, if not quite as comfortable as the aforementioned Cayenne and Range Rover Sport.

Value

With prices starting at more than £75,000, the new Q8 is not what you'd call cheap. In fact, it's more expensive than the cheapest Porsche Cayenne, which comes in at just over £5,000 cheaper. Admittedly, the Cayenne doesn't have a diesel option, but it is a better car to drive than the Q8, and some would place more value on the badge at the front. That said, the Q8 is better equipped, with its two screens as standard and sports seats, as well as two-zone climate control, a reversing camera and heated seats. A power-operated tailgate and keyless entry and start are also thrown in, along with 21-inch alloy wheels.

Verdict

The Q8 is a decent car, and the new version does nothing to harm that capability. It'll certainly play well with those drawn in by the badge and the design. But that's the limit of the Q8's appeal. Yes, a strong engine range is welcome, and build quality is first rate, but the big Audi has neither the comfort nor the handling to cope with the Porsche Cayenne, which is a cheaper option, or the latest Range Rover Sport.



James Fossdyke - 8 Nov 2023



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2024 Audi Q8 50 TDI Quattro S Line. Image by Audi.2024 Audi Q8 50 TDI Quattro S Line. Image by Audi.2024 Audi Q8 50 TDI Quattro S Line. Image by Audi.2024 Audi Q8 50 TDI Quattro S Line. Image by Audi.2024 Audi Q8 50 TDI Quattro S Line. Image by Audi.

2024 Audi Q8 50 TDI Quattro S Line. Image by Audi.2024 Audi Q8 50 TDI Quattro S Line. Image by Audi.2024 Audi Q8 50 TDI Quattro S Line. Image by Audi.2024 Audi Q8 50 TDI Quattro S Line. Image by Audi.2024 Audi Q8 50 TDI Quattro S Line. Image by Audi.








 

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