Audi SQ8 Sportback e-tron Review – Potent Power.

The Audi SQ8 e-tron numbers don’t make rational sense on paper, but it’s an SUV that drives brilliantly. 

Audi’s naming strategy remains as bewildering as ever with the introduction of the new Q8 e-tron. This isn’t your conventional Q8 with an internal combustion engine. Instead, Audi has given a facelift and a new name to its first electric vehicle, the e-tron SUV from 2019.

Despite its shared name, the Q8 e-tron doesn’t share much with its combustion-engined sibling. Confused? You’re not alone.

Navigating Audi’s evolving electric landscape might require a map and a compass, but one thing’s for certain: this SQ8 e-tron is the big bad wolf of the Q8 e-tron range, even if it has to do so in a rather understated and quintessentially Audi manner.

aggressive outside.

With its decidedly more aggressive front end, the Audi SQ8 e-tron with its Sportback tapered rear strides ahead as the more fashion-forward sibling in Audi’s latest lineup.

While Mercedes-Benz parades the egg-shaped EQE SUV and BMW presents the polarising iX, the Audi has that distinct business-class flair.

A front grille blends seamlessly into hypnotic headlights and a full-width light bar that demands attention from the rear.

The 22-inch rims add a finishing touch to the ensemble, though they do nibble a bit at the range.

business inside.

Stepping into the Q8 e-tron, you find yourself enveloped in Audi’s hallmark of premium quality.

The interior design eschews flamboyance for functionality, featuring a layout that prioritises logical access to controls and a clutter-free environment.

The usual Audi polish then – crisp, slightly sterile, yet undeniably well-crafted.

Everything from the shut lines to the tactile switchgear speaks of quality, although the haptic touchscreen controls might take a bit of getting used to.

Unlike the BMW iX, which flirts with eccentricities, the Audi opts for understatement.

The centre console, though aesthetically pleasing, feels like a missed opportunity for better utility; there’s the deep cubby with cupholders that, while spacious, seems to let smaller items roam freely onto the seats.

Audi has wisely given the HVAC controls their own screen, which means no fumbling through entertainment settings just to adjust the temperature – a relief to those of us not quite sold on the all-digital interaction.

Rear space is quite generous, and while the sloping roofline does not overly encroach on headroom, it’s the SUV that offers a bit more vertical leeway.

The middle rear seat, squeezed by the imposing centre console, might not be the best spot for adult comfort on longer journeys.

And all occupants are wrapped in premium Valcona leather, which especially pops in this bright red shade.

Boot space is ample in the Sportback at 528 litres, expanding to 1,567 litres with the seats folded.

Plus, there’s a handy 62-litre frunk, perfect for stashing charging cables or keeping your valuables out of sight.

In crafting the Q8 e-tron, Audi has managed to maintain its signature blend of functionality and luxury without veering into the realms of unnecessary innovation that we sometimes see from other brands.

This measured approach keeps the Audi faithful coming back for more.

full blast power.

Beneath its sculpted exterior, the SQ8 e-tron houses a behemoth 114kWh battery pack snugly fitted under the cabin floor.

It’s powered by not one, not two, but three electric motors, amassing a formidable 496bhp and a staggering 973Nm of torque.

While these numbers might not set the world alight compared to the monstrous outputs of some EVs pushing past 600bhp, the real joy of the SQ8 isn’t just in the raw stats but in its drive.

Weighing in at a hefty 2,650kg, the SQ8 e-tron could easily be a lumbering beast, yet it dances almost deftly, defying its mass with each turn.

This agility owes much to an extra motor at the rear axle that not only boosts power but also enhances torque vectoring, allowing for sharper, more responsive handling that feels like it’s bending the laws of physics.

Driving this beast on twisting back roads showcases its prowess. Unlike its standard sibling, the SQ8 feels sprightly, aided by a quickened steering response and a suspension setup that’s taut yet forgiving, ensuring a ride that’s as composed as it is thrilling.

The body control is exceptional – carving corners with minimal roll and impacts that are efficiently managed without drama.

What’s more, Audi has rethought the suspension geometry for the ‘S’ model, opting for a firmer setup with wider tyres and more aggressive camber.

The result is a ride that might echo the dynamism of a BMW M car rather than the cushy glide typically associated with Audi SUVs. 

Efficiency is where the SQ8 e-tron might raise eyebrows. Achieving only 320km on a full charge under mixed driving conditions (well below the official estimate) and approximately 27.4kWh/100km suggests that this model might be more suited for those with access to a home charger than long-distance travellers reliant on public charging.

Still, if you need a quick juice up, the car is rated for a maximum of 170kW at a suitable DC station, meaning you’ll be on your way in a couple of minutes.

there’s room for growth.

It’s clear that Audi has upped its game with the Audi SQ8 e-tron, churning out a performance SUV that significantly outshines its predecessor.

Yet, despite its enhanced allure, the SQ8 e-tron still treads the path laid out by the original e-tron, which only found its stride after adopting the Q8 badge. There’s nothing inherently wrong with it, but it does feel a little dated compared to its rivals.

It seems Audi knows this too, possibly casting a wistful eye towards the future even as it rolls out this model. The future is set to ride on Volkswagen’s cutting-edge Premium Platform Electric (PPE) architecture, and Audi is already developing new models with it.

With such a foundation, it’s a fair bet that an even hotter Q8 e-tron will be among them.

technical specifications.

Audi SQ8 Sportback e-tron quattro

Engine: Three Electric Motors
Power: 370 kW (496 bhp)
Torque: 973 Nm
Gearbox: Two-stage planetary gearbox with single gear (A)
0-100km/h: 5.1 seconds (claimed), 4.1 seconds (in Boost mode)
Top Speed: 210 km/h
Battery Capacity: 114 kWh
Drive Range: 471 km (claimed)
Energy Consumption: 31.2 kWh/100km (claimed)

Price: S$644,810 with COE (accurate at the time of this article)
Contact: Audi Singapore

Photo Credits: Sean Loo (@auto.driven)

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Sean Loo

Ignition Labs' resident editor loves all things retro, even though he was born in the late 90s. His main job encompasses tons of driving (and a massive carbon footprint), but he swears he turns off the lights each time he leaves his room.

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