Since the start of production in 2018, Audi has released seven, now eight, electric SUVs under the e-Tron label, with another twelve already in the works for delivery by 2026. With the introduction of the future Q8 e-Tron crossover SUV on Wednesday, the firm formally debuted the next edition of its premium EV range after months of teasing.
The Q8 e-Tron and Sportback versions will be available for purchase beginning next spring, with three AWD powertrain options: a Q8 50, a Q8 55, and the top-of-the-line SQ8. The basic model Q8 50 e-Tron has a 250 kW (335 HP) engine with 490 lb-ft of torque, a 0-60 time of 6 seconds, a maximum range of 306 miles for the SUV body type and 313 miles for the Sportback.
The Q8 55 e-Tron, available in both SUV and Sportback configurations, produces a 300kW peak (402 HP) and 490 lb-ft of torque. The SUV has a range of 361 miles, but the Sportback has a range of 600 km (372 miles) because of its bigger battery pack. The top-of-the-line SQ8 e-Tron has three motors to the other models’ pairs, allowing it to produce 370 kW (496 HP) and 717 ft-lb of torque with a range of 307 miles (SUV) and 319 miles (Sportback). The S variant has a peak speed of 130 MPH and a 0-60 time of 5.6 seconds due to software limitations.
The Q8 50s will be outfitted with a net 89 kWh battery pack capable of charging at up to 150 kW. The Q8 55s, on the other hand, comes with a larger net-106 kWh pack capable of 170kW charging speeds (higher rates equals faster charging times which means less sitting around a roadside power station). The 55s can be charged from 10 to 80 per cent (260 miles) in a little over a half hour using an L3 DC fast charger, while the rate reduces to 11 – 22kW for home charging, depending on the wall box choices. To completely recharge a Q8 50, leave it on an 11kW socket for roughly nine and a quarter hour, and a whopping 11 and a half hours for the larger Q8 55. At 22 kW, the figures decrease to just under five hours for the 50 and six hours for the 55.
The new e-tron series has more efficient motors than its predecessors, with 14-coil power plants capable of producing a greater magnetic field for about the same amount of electrical input as the earlier 12-coil motors. A stronger field may provide greater torque when required, but it can also reduce torque when it isn’t needed to assist prolong the vehicle’s range. Furthermore, the exteriors of the vehicles have been engineered to reduce air resistance, with the Q8 Sportback having a drag coefficient of 0.24 — the same as the Polestar 2 — and the Q8 e-tron having 0.27, which is marginally better than the VW ID.4.
“Looking at the current Audi e-tron, it’s evident that as we go ahead into the Q8 e-tron family, we’re beginning with a really robust platform of technological features,” Audi spokesman Benedikt Still said during a press preview last week. “We’ll carry over this powerful character in the new model; innovative innovations like digital matrix headlamps or virtual side mirrors are still at the technological forefront today.”
The Q8 is loaded with high-tech amenities, as is customary in the premium car class. The car has over four dozen driver assistance capabilities that are based on data from up to five radar sensors, five optical cameras, and a dozen ultrasonic pickups. This influx of data is sufficient to allow the Q8 to park itself. Remote park assist plus, which will be available for purchase in 2023, will automatically manoeuvre your seventy-some odd thousand EV “into even the tiniest parking spots,” according to the announcement, in a procedure managed by the driver’s myAudi smartphone.
The Q8, like every other e-tron model since the series became electric in 2018, will be outfitted with Audi’s Matrix LED headlights. However, unlike prior model years, the Q8’s headlights will finally be ADB enabled, according to a long-awaited NHTSA rule in February, and as such, they’ll offer three additional features: better traffic information, a lane light with a direction indication, and an orientation light on rural roads.
If you were hoping for anything less than opulence in the inside, you’ll be disappointed. The panoramic two-part roof, as well as the integrated sunshades, are controlled electrically. Audi also offers four-zone automatic temperature control and massage capabilities for the synthetic leather-clad seats as options. There aren’t many physical buttons to touch in the cockpit, as almost everything is handled via the pair of central infotainment displays — a 10.1-inch larger and an 8.6-inch lower — or by voice command.
Ordering for the Q8 e-tron and Q8 Sportback begins in mid-November. Audi plans an initial market debut in Germany and other European markets at the end of next February, followed by arrivals in the United States by the end of April. Audi has revealed a starting MSRP of 74,400 euros, or around $72,500 USD at current exchange rates.