2024 Audi SQ8 E-Tron First Drive: The Title Issues


9.6 / 10

I’m not often a fan of constructing easy issues extra difficult, particularly on the planet of automotive naming. BMW and Infiniti have lengthy been events to this unchecked enlargement of mannequin branding and sub-branding, and it’s nonetheless tough to recollect which car we’re speaking about when speaking about something from the Mercedes-EQ household of issues.

With that stated, I’ll permit the “Q8” that newly adorns the 2024 Audi Q8 E-Tron, and the tidy “SQ8” as nicely. When launched because the “Audi E-Tron” in 2018, the slim moniker put the entire emphasis on the corporate’s model new branding of its all-electric line. Nevertheless it ignored any indication of what dimension and form of car we had been speaking about – a reality not helped by the coupe-like E-Tron Sportback and the very-much-not-an-SUV E-Tron GT that had been to return.

2024 Audi SQ8 E-Tron
2024 Audi SQ8 E-Tron

Q8 and SQ8 match comfortably into the identified Audi universe and drastically cut back the RAM I want to recollect what the hell I’m writing about. For 2024 the automaker will convey 4 acquainted variants, with the square-backed and sport-backed our bodies on the usual and sporty powertrains. Higher nonetheless, as I discovered means out yonder on an island within the Atlantic Ocean, the adjustments made the E-Tron mannequin make it a much more compelling electrical car general.

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Fast Stats 2024 Audi SQ8 E-Tron
Motor: Three Asynchronous Electrical Motors
Output: 496 Horsepower / 718 Pound Toes (est)
Battery: 114.0-Kilowatt-Hour Lithium-Ion
EV Vary: 320 Miles (est)
Base Worth: $91,000 (est)

Monitor The Adjustments

The Q8 rebranding of the electrical SUV could clarify how Audi nomenclature will work going ahead (a query we’ve posed to BMW and Mercedes relating to the way forward for their i and EQ fashions, respectively), however the meat of the adjustments to the car internet out to an excellent old style mid-cycle refresh. After all, on the planet of EVs, a refresh could make for vital adjustments on the highway, as is the case right here.

The Q8 E-Tron staff tackled updates to design (in fact), vary, and driving dynamics for the 2024 mannequin. (That mannequin yr is right: manufacturing of Q8 E-Tron is underway, however first deliveries within the US received’t begin till summer time.)

The aero features, mixed with new and extra environment friendly stator motors and up to date battery chemistry (reworked to make use of much less cobalt) internet what Audi is asking a “30-percent” enchancment to the utmost vary figures.

On the design entrance, all the standard areas have been refreshed to reinforce an already techy-cool SUV vibe. Audi’s single-frame “masks” (avoiding the marginally incorrect time period “grille”) is new, as is the vast, glossy, and now E-Tron-branded rear diffuser. Lighting parts have additionally been up to date, together with a neat element the place the stacked bars from the decrease fascia are mirrored within the corners of the LED headlights.

The brand new bodywork has helped to realize a slippery form, too, with the coefficient of drag bettering by some eight % over the outgoing E-Tron. Be aware that the tiny, camera-based wing mirrors seen in these pictures are nonetheless verboten within the US (not a foul factor when it comes to ease of use, should you ask me). Nonetheless, the aero features, mixed with new and extra environment friendly stator motors and up to date battery chemistry (reworked to make use of much less cobalt) internet what Audi is asking a “30-percent” enchancment to the utmost vary figures.

2024 Audi SQ8 E-Tron
2024 Audi SQ8 E-Tron
2024 Audi SQ8 E-Tron

300 Miles (Give Or Take)

Whereas Europeans will be capable to order a Q8 50 E-Tron with a smaller, and presumably less-costly, 95-kilowatt-hour (89 kWh internet) battery pack, North Individuals will solely be provided the bigger 114-kWh (106 kWh internet) unit in each the two-motor Q8 55 and the tri-motor SQ8.

Audi isn’t on document with EPA vary figures simply but, however we’re informed to count on a 30-percent enchancment in vary, and indications from staffers on web site had been that the headline quantity will “begin with a 3.”

We do have WLTP figures and might make best-guess calculations accordingly. Audi cites a best-case WLTP vary of about 373 miles (600 kilometers) for the Q8 55 E-Tron Sportback, so a back-of-the-napkin EPA determine could be round 320 miles for that car. The identical fuzzy math would give SQ8 Sportback a spread variety of round 270 miles (primarily based on 513 kilometers WLTP).

The improved vary numbers will undoubtedly assist Audi in a rapidly maturing panorama for premium and sporty SUV-bodied electrics. The BMW iX goes for 305 to 324 miles relying on choices, the Mercedes-Benz EQS 450 manages 305 miles, whereas Rivian’s R1S maxes out at round 320 miles. Q8 E-Tron is now squarely within the combine.

The improved vary numbers will undoubtedly assist Audi in a rapidly maturing panorama for premium and sporty SUV-bodied electrics.

All North American fashions, with the massive battery pack, can even now cost at a max 170-kilowatt charge. Audi reckons that, below best circumstances, that’ll imply a cost from 10 to 80 % in 31 minutes. Bragging rights on the charging entrance will nonetheless belong to Rivian and Mercedes, whose SUVs cost at a max of 200 kW, whereas BMW manages 195 kW.

Regardless of these middling peak charge numbers, the E-Tron cost curve appears to maintain the juice flowing at a excessive charge for longer, making the real-world results of its decrease kilowatt quantity considerably negligible. (We’ll have Tom Mologhney type all of it out ASAP.)

2024 Audi SQ8 E-Tron
2024 Audi SQ8 E-Tron
2024 Audi SQ8 E-Tron
2024 Audi SQ8 E-Tron

The Lanzarote GP

Audi selected the far-flung Canary Islands as the placement for the Q8 E-Tron debut drive; after two days of almost circumnavigating the tiny, volcanic island of Lanzarote, I can verify that car and locale had been largely simpatico.

My drive route (the majority of it accomplished within the more-powerful SQ8) wound up and down mountainsides, opened up for lengthy stretches of coastal freeway, and veered into the mazes of tiny streets crisscrossing postage-stamp villages. On all however probably the most cramped village lanes, the SQ8 proved agile, clean, steady, and quick.

The SQ8 has three motors to the usual Q8’s two, with a 124-kW motor on the entrance axle and two 98-kW motors driving the rear wheels. Whole system output can “enhance” as much as 496 horsepower and drive the considerably heavy car to an Audi-estimated 4.5 seconds to 62 miles per hour. Hand-timing a couple of runs confirmed me that the 4.5 quantity ought to be simple to realize persistently, and anybody unused to the chest-crushing feeling of the moment acceleration can be duly impressed.

2024 Audi SQ8 E-Tron
2024 Audi SQ8 E-Tron

Dealing with matched or barely exceeded what I contemplate a baseline for this new breed of {powerful}, luxurious EVs, with instantaneous torque vectoring serving to tidy up exits from tighter corners. Actually, anybody driving the SQ8 E-Tron on American-sized highways and roads, even large sweeping curvy roads, will admire the direct and well-weighted steering and planted feeling whereas altering instructions. The revised steering tuning even delivered precisely one iota of highway really feel, which is, frankly, nicely above common for this section.

Nonetheless, on a few of the very cramped roads – a couple of seemingly designed to be precisely the width of two Fiat Panda 4x4s – and thru lively villages, the dimensions of the E-Tron turned extra obvious. The car is what we’ll name a midsize SUV right here within the States, and it nonetheless can’t EV-magic its approach to being snug dicing on ultra-narrow streets with excessive stone curbing.

Audi SQ8 E-Tron Interior
Audi SQ8 E-Tron Interior
Audi SQ8 E-Tron Interior

Climb Inside

For any European readers, the aforementioned camera-based mirrors don’t assist in any respect right here. I’m positive one can get them dialed into affordable usefulness with observe, however I used to be swearing at them for 2 days. The screens you search for rather than conventional mirrors are nestled a lot decrease than you’d count on within the door card – by no means an issue for checking the passenger facet of the car, however at all times annoyingly out of my peripheral imaginative and prescient on the motive force’s facet. The high-tech mirrors are a standalone choice and I say “purchaser beware.”

I’m going to have so as to add a top quality decibel meter to my touring equipment as I overview extra EVs; the in-cabin quiet of the SQ8 was astonishing, however I’ve had comparable emotions in electrics starting from the BMW iX to the Star Award successful Ford F-150 Lightning. After all, electrical powertrains are inherently far quieter than ICE equivalents, and an enormous discount of noise, vibration, and harshness is the EV’s birthright. However deciding if the Audi’s silent cabin is kind of silent than its Rivian or Mercedes equal, for instance, might be not one thing my ears can measure with sufficient accuracy to be scientific.

2024 Audi SQ8 E-Tron

Suffice it to say that the cabin is totally hushed at 70 mph, the sound system glowing at high and low volumes (although much less spectacular than BMW’s Hans Zimmer-tuned hifi), and the encompassing design is pitch-perfect Audi. The German opponents on this $70k-ish to $100k-ish worth vary have opted for extra lavish lodging, however customers who admire clear traces and a contemporary, minimalistic vibe will little question vibe with the E-Tron.

I particularly dug the fabric-like surfacing on the inside trim items (Audi has unimaginatively dubbed it “technical material”) that’s wrought partially from recycled plastics. The place different luxurious autos go shiny and wealthy, Audi goes matte, brushed, and demure, giving the SQ8 a far much less fussy feeling.

There’s additionally loads of room for big people like me within the standard-back Q8 E-Tron form. At 6-foot-5 I had greater than sufficient leg and headroom behind the steering wheel, and within the backseats. Although I didn’t get to drive the Sportback variant on this journey (we’ll undoubtedly convey you a fuller overview of that car within the close to future), I did poke round sufficient to notice the intrusion of the rakish roof on the rear passengers. Individuals of common top will nonetheless match okay again there, I’d guess.

Audi SQ8 E-Tron Interior

By way of storage, we’re nonetheless working with a relative lack of finalized specs from Audi, however we do have a determine for 20.1 cubic toes within the again (extrapolated from Euro specs and presumably with the second row up). That may put the Audi squarely behind the “all seats up” quantity from the BMW iX (35.5 cu ft). Nonetheless a number of versatile loading house within the rear, however not class-leading.

Let’s take a look at frunks! The E-Tron rocks a small however helpful 2.2 cu ft entrance trunk, which instantly places it in entrance of the frunkless EQS SUV and iX on this vital metric. Tesla’s Mannequin X troopers on with a pleasant 6.5 cubes up entrance, however the R1S takes the title (a minimum of when it comes to EV SUVs) with 11.1 cu ft.

2024 Audi SQ8 E-Tron

Present Me The Cash (Please?)

At InsideEVs and Motor1.com workers conferences I like to hammer residence that worth and worth are unquestionably crucial components for automotive patrons in nearly each section. So I think about that it’s karma screwing with me a bit that Audi has provided up zilch on the pricing entrance as of this writing.

I used to be informed that pricing for the present E-Tron SUV is an efficient beginning place for the eventual MSRP. However the panorama of automotive pricing has modified fairly dramatically since that car launched, and I might count on that Audi will cost for a few of the many enhancements made on this era of E-Tron.

2024 Audi SQ8 E-Tron

Because the new “base” Q8 E-Tron has a bigger battery and revised motors on prime of the entire different enhancements, I do count on the value to leap considerably from the $70,800 requested of the 2023 mannequin. One thing nearer to the $84,100 requested of the BMW iX xDrive50 might be within the playing cards.

Whereas up to date, the arduous factors of the 2024 SQ8 hew somewhat nearer the 2023 E-Tron S which begins at $88,200. A base worth within the low $90k vary is a fairly good guess, if nonetheless a guess. Watch this house and the information feed of InsideEVs for detailed pricing when we have now it.

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