20 February 2019

Audi Q8 2019 Car Review

Tempting though it might be to wonder if there’s really space for yet another SUV on the market, few companies can afford to leave a gap in any price bracket already occupied by their competition.

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Audi Q8
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Audi Q8
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Audi Q8
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Audi Q8

Those folk with the desire for a luxurious SUV-coupe cross and the money to pay for it, can already browse between the likes of BMW’s X6, the Range Rover Sport or Porsche Cayenne, and Audi doesn’t want to lose those customers – hence the arrival of this Q8.

At first glance it doesn’t look that big, it’s just 55mm taller than the Q5, but it’s also 115mm wider and 347mm longer to impart proportions that enhance the suggestion of speed. It looks even racier next to the more practically-focused Q7, as it’s lower, shorter and wider – no wonder it looks more dynamic.

The aim was a combination of luxury coupe and useable SUV. Certainly the cabin is spacious, and this 3.0-litre turbo-diesel engine lopes along with the ease expected of a ground-eating GT, assisted by a generous dollop of torque.

Diesels of course come with efficiency advantages over petrol turbos of similar size, in this case further assisted by what Audi calls ‘mild hybrid technology’ or MHEV. There’s a rechargeable battery under the boot floor, which means the Q8 can cruise at anywhere between 55 and 160km/h with the engine off, the hybrid set-up restarting it when required. The extra battery recharges during deceleration, and the system helps cut fuel. You might not think so if you look at the overall economy showing on our test vehicle, which revealed a 10.1l/100km average over 1967km, but we expect much of that was either thirsty moving around in the distributor car park, or thrashing by sports-oriented writers. Our real-world test loop, with city driving, highway, industrial, urban and rural open road plus a fairly high proportion of short hill (and beach, given the season) trips returned a 7.6l/100km average over 272km, even with the air con set high for the 27-degree temperatures we drove in.

Naturally the Q8 is a quattro, with a mechanical centre diff to transfer urge to the axles at a 40:60 ratio under normal conditions, varying to suit when front or rear lose traction. In theory this is an SUV and in theory you should be able to confidently leave the seal, though we suspect anyone who’s spent $11,500 on these optional forged wheels will avoid that. Nevertheless we did enjoy being able to see what tilt we were on, and what angle of slope – our tester boasts a 16-degree driveway with a seven-degree camber, according to this car.

The sharp tech is matched by sharp looks assisted in this case by the very handsome, and pricey, 22-inch wheel option and doors with ‘naked’ window glass – there is no frame around it, so you almost feel as if you’re accessing the car via a convertible’s doors.

Inside the front is very driver-focussed, with the dash and its screen angled for greatest visibility and reach. Actually it’s hard to ignore the black panels of the touch display which allows an enormous array of adjustability, not to mention the ability to sort through several functions not only via voice, and of course the usual touch-screen ‘buttons’, but also via the ‘notepad’ function. A lower screen normally shows the climate control status, but when required that goes blank, and you can use a finger to scrawl numbers or letters – for example to find someone in your phone book – without even taking your eyes off the road.

Up front the digital instruments are just as easy to read and informative, with more menus accessed by the minimum of steering wheel mounted buttons and dials. It’s all pretty intuitive to use, though you do have to get familiar with the sheer amount of what’s possible. For example, there’s an interesting array of camera views when you’re maneuvering, including top, rear and front views which, once you get over the camera distortion, should make it quite hard to damage this car in a tight underground car park.

The one real compromise of this car’s looks comes in the boot. At 605 litres with all five seats in use it’s still spacious, and we liked having bag hooks, a power socket and a couple of small wall cubbies there to keep little bits and bobs accessible. But the sloping roof line does mean any tall, square items may not fit – admittedly unlikely to cause an everyday annoyance.

Those rear seats split-fold separately in a 40:20:40 arrangement, and another practical touch which will be loved by those accessing ski roads or horse paddocks – or loading smaller children – is that the long door lower completely covers the sill and car side, so you won’t get muck or dust on your trousers when alighting or departing.

As for ride, we found it comfy set on auto, and rarely tried the efficiency, comfort or dynamic settings, figuring most owners would leave the car to do its stuff. It seemed to make intelligent choices, and the only time we over-rode it was in altering the ride height for an awkward rural park.

Our test car had a number of cost options fitted, including a Black Gloss styling package ($3000), gloss black exterior mirrors ($300), high gloss oak inlays inside ($500), privacy glass ($1300), an S line exterior package (8000) and of course those wheels.

You can hardly talk about value for money when dropping over 100K on a car, but if you want a high-tech, reasonably practical, any-roads sharp looker and are prepared to pay for it, this Audi is certainly likely to make your short list.

At a glance


Audi Q8


2967cc six-cylinder diesel


$174,500 as tested

$149,000 standard

ANCAP safety rating

Not yet tested

Power and Torque

210kW at 3500rpm to 4000rpm,  600Nm at 2250rpm to 3250rpm


Eight speed tiptronic with sport program

Fuel economy


Towing capacity




Seating capacity


Luggage capacity/payload

605 litres (1755 with rear seats folded)

Safety systems

  • Adaptive cruise control with speed limiter
  • Pre-sense front with collision avoidance assist and turn assist
  • Audi Lane Change assist inc exit warning
  • Park Distance Control front and rear
  • Active Lane Assist
  • Pre-sense rear
  • Rear Traffic Alert
  • Front Cross Traffic Assist
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