Audi has introduced seven, well, now eight, electric SUVs under the e-tron banner since they began production in 2018 — with another dozen already in the works for release by 2026. After months of teasing, the company finally, officially introduced the latest iteration of its luxury EV line with Wednesday’s reveal of the upcoming Q8 e-tron crossover SUV.
Available for order starting next spring, the Q8 e-tron and its Sportback version will both offer three AWD powertrain options: a Q8 50, a Q8 55, and the top of the line SQ8. The base model Q8 50 e-tron delivers 250 kW (335 HP) with 490 lb-ft of torque alongside a 0-60 of 6 seconds flat, a max range 306 miles for the SUV body style and 313 miles for the Sportback.
The step up Q8 55 e-tron, again both the SUV and Sportback, outputs 300kW peak (402 HP) with 490 lb-ft of torque. The SUV ranges out to 361 miles while the Sportback can hit 600 km (372 miles), thanks to their larger battery pack. The top-of-the-line SQ8 e-tron boasts three motors to the others’ pairs so it can generate 370 kW (496 HP) and 717 ft-lb of torque with 307 miles (SUV) and 319 miles (Sportback) of range. The S model is software limited to a top speed of 130 MPH and a 0-60 of 5.6 seconds.
The Q8 50s will come equipped with a net-89 kWh battery pack that can charge at up to 150 kW. The Q8 55s, however, are outfitted with a bigger net-106 kWh pack that can achieve 170kW charging rates (higher rates equals faster charging times which means less sitting around a roadside power station). The 55s will be able to refill from 10 to 80 percent (~260 miles of range) in just over a half hour using an L3 DC fast charger, though the rate drops to just 11 – 22kW, depending on the wall box options, for home charging. You’re going to have to leave a Q8 50 on an 11kW socket for about nine and a quarter hours to fully replenish it, and a whopping 11 and a half hours for the bigger Q8 55. Those numbers drop to just under five hours for the 50 and six hours for the 55 at 22 kW.
The new e-tron line boasts more efficient motors than its predecessors, offering 14-coil power plants that can generate a stronger magnetic field for roughly the same amount of electrical input as the older 12-coil motors required. A stronger field can generate more torque when necessary but also step that power back when it isn’t needed to help extend the vehicle’s range. What’s more, the vehicle’s exteriors have been designed to minimize air resistance, with the Q8 Sportback offering a drag coefficient of just 0.24 — that’s the same as the Polestar 2 — and the Q8 e-tron offering 0.27, slightly better than the VW ID.4.
“Looking at the current Audi e-tron, it’s clear that we’re starting with a very solid base of technical features as we move forward into the Q8 e-tron family,” Audi spokesperson Benedikt Still said during a press preview last week. “We’ll be carrying over retaining this strong character in the new model, groundbreaking features such as the digital matrix headlights or the virtual side mirrors are still at the technical forefront today.”
As is the way in the luxury vehicle segment, the Q8 is packed with high-tech features. The vehicle offers nearly four dozen driver assist features based on data gathered from as many as five radar sensors, five optical cameras and a dozen ultrasonic pickups. This plethora of incoming information is enough to let the Q8 park itself. Available for order in 2023, remote park assist plus will autonomously guide your seventy-some odd thousand EV “into even the tightest parking spaces,” according to Wednesday’s release, in a process controlled through the driver’s myAudi app.
And as with every e-tron released since the line went electric in 2018, the Q8 will come equipped with Audi’s Matrix LED headlights. But unlike previous model years, the Q8’s headlights will finally be ADB capable following a long-awaited NHTSA ruling this past February and, as such they’ll have three new features: enhanced traffic information, a lane light with a direction indicator and an orientation light on country roads.
If you were expecting the interior to be anything short of opulent, you’re going to be disappointed. The two-part roof is panoramic and controlled electronically, as are the integrated sunshades. Audi is also offering four-zone automatic climate control as an option as well as massaging functions for the synthetic leather-clad seats. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a physical button to push as virtually all of the cabin’s features are controlled through the pair of central infotainment screens — a 10.1-inch upper and a 8.6-inch lower — or via voice command.
Order windows for both the Q8 e-tron and the Q8 Sportback open mid-November. Audi is aiming for an initial market launch in Germany and major European markets at the end of next February with arrivals to the US happening by the end of April. Audi has announced a base MSRP of 74,400 euros or around $72,500 US at current exchange rates.
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