The Q8 dotted down last year as the daddy of the Q line-up. Not for long though as the SQ8 is now here.
Given the SQ7 was a sales success here and overseas, it’s no surprise that Audi has repeated the formula with a hotted up version of the mechanically similar Q8. In fact, anything beginning with a Q has been hot to trot locally, with two in every three new vehicles sold here starting with the high-scoring letter.
SQ8 probably won’t be quite the sales success of the SQ7, which has space for seven individuals. And the SQ8 carries a reasonable premium too. But for those after a bit more in the way of dynamics and panache, they certainly get that in the SQ8.
From the exterior, it looks really nothing quite as large as the SQ7, and yet on road it is genuinely a sizeable vehicle, just under 5m long and 2m wide. Our particular example showed signs of someone having miscalculated on the width front. It only just fits down our driveway – make memo to trim hedge this weekend – and on a busy motorway it’s best to leave the lane keeping device active. On that, Audi makes it particularly easy to nullify that particular driving assistant; merely tap the end of the indicator wand and steering reverts to fully manual.”
And on simplicity, Audi has seen fit to drop the MMI rotary controller, relegating minor functions to a haptic touch screen. This takes a bit of familiarisation, but don’t they all? Touch too lightly and nothing happens. Touch too briefly and nothing happens, but if you bear down a bit longer, you can sense the button reacts to your input. No wonder we couldn’t turn off ESP initially. Eventually we managed, optimising systems to test whether this would be the second diesel to run 0-100 in under five seconds. The first, unsurprisingly as it was the donor of the SQ8 engine, was the original SQ7, with a blistering 4.79sec run. Not bad for a diesel-powered vehicle weighing the better part of 2.5 tonnes huh!
Anyhow, the SQ8 is currently the top SUV offering from Audi, at least in a pecuniary sense. At $194,400 it is precisely $10k more expensive than the SQ7 and you’d happily pay that for exterior design chops alone, unless you really did need those extra couple of pews. There’s something about that gently plunging roofline, the coupe effect, that really works on this model. And it’s quite subtly different from the Q8, with a bit more framing around the large grille up front, four exhausts out back and the silver lining of the mirror caps. Otherwise, they’re hard to tell apart, unless of course you’re following one and you won’t be for long if it’s the SQ8.
Back into the burbs where normal transmission resumes, literally, and it doesn’t feel quite such a bear, yet it pulls with authority from 1500rpm (peak torque is on tap from 1250rpm) and is rambunctious with anything over 2000rpm showing. Paddles aren’t required much because the transmission reacts so well to throttle inputs. Brakes are stellar too, as they need to be on something this solid, with a beautifully progressive pedal.
In practical terms this also impresses. The rear seats are on sliders so legroom and luggage space are adjustable, according to needs. This is more of a four-plus-one on the seating front, the rear middle pew best for a child. The boot, at 605L, is big enough, but the more rounded SQ7 gets one over it’s costlier sib, with 770L of space. Drop the rear seat backs of the SQ8 though and you’ve 1755L of luggage capacity. Heaps then.
Which is also what you get on the safety and convenience front. Some though will still pine for the revs and the bravura of petrol power but they’ll pay for the extra performance in the form of the incoming $244k RS Q8. Figure on 440kW and 0-100 in 3.8sec, making it amongst the quickest of the full-sized luxury SUVs. The sensible will probably make do and be exceedingly happy with the tamer but still quite wild SQ8.
|Model||Audi SQ8 TDI||Price||$194,400|
|Engine||3956cc, V8, TDI, 320kW/900Nm||Drivetrain||8-speed auto, AWD|
|Fuel Use||7.8L/100km||C02 Output||205g/km|