New 2023 Audi Q8 e-tron launched as company’s flagship EV | CAR Magazine

New 2023 Audi Q8 e-tron launched as company’s flagship EV

Published: 09 November 2022 Updated: 09 November 2022

► Audi has facelifted and renamed its e-tron SUV
► Bigger 114kWh battery increases range to 343 miles
► Fresh exterior styling brings improved aerodynamics

This is the new Audi Q8 e-tron. It’s a heavily facelifted and rebadged version of the company’s original e-tron SUV which features fresh styling, new electric motors and larger battery packs that increases the car’s maximum range from 252 miles to 343 miles (on the coupe-inspired Sportback variants). Range figures like that make it a closer rival for the Tesla Model Y and BMW iX.

The updated Audi Q8 e-tron will go on sale in mid-November 2022 with first deliveries expected to arrive in April 2023. Prices are yet to be confirmed but given the sheer number of changes between the two cars, we’re expecting an uptick over the old model’s £65,000 starting price.

As with the outgoing car, buyers can have the Q8 e-tron in either SUV or coupe-inspired Sportback body styles. The previous model’s 50 and 55 specifications have survived the update, although Audi has launched a range-topping performance version for the updated car, called the SQ8 e-tron.

Audi Q8 e-tron SUV rear three quarter, studio shot in hanger, grey car

Audi says every model in the Q8 e-tron’s line-up can travel further on a charge than the most expensive version of the outgoing e-tron. That’s a good thing, because the old car’s maximum range had already fallen behind that of its younger rivals.

The entry-level Q8 50 e-tron SUV has a maximum range of 281 miles, the mid-range Q8 55 e-tron SUV can manage 330 miles and the flagship SQ8 e-tron SUV has a 284-mile range. The Sportback versions of each car also offer around 10 extra miles of range due to their slipperier aerodynamics.

That’s a significant range increase. What’s new underneath?

Audi junked the outgoing e-tron’s 71kWh battery for starters. Now, you have a choice of two new batteries, both of which are larger. The cheapest Q8 50 e-tron is powered by a 95kWh battery, while the Q8 55 e-tron and the sporty SQ8 e-tron get an enormous 114kWh battery.

The Q8 50 and 55 e-tron are both still powered by two electric motors, but the one on their rear axle has been improved. It now features 14 coils rather than 12, which Audi says allows it to develop more torque for a similar amount of electrical energy. When you’re not operating in warp-drive, the motor also consumes less power which helps to increase maximum range.

As you’d expect, the new motor has made the Q8 e-tron more powerful, too. The entry-level 50 e-tron produces 335bhp and 490lb/ft of torque, which is 27bhp and 92lb/ft more than the cheapest version of the old car. The 55 e-tron variant serves up 402bhp, although the amount of torque it produces remains the same at 490lb/ft.

Audi Q8 e-tron SUV dynamic front three quarter, cornering shot, mountain road, grey car

However, if you’re an active member of the Chuck Yeager fan club, you might be better served by the Audi SQ8 e-tron. The new performance flagship features a tri-motor electric powertrain which punches out 496bhp and a whopping 718lb/ft of torque. Top speed is capped at 130mph.

Audi has also fitted every version of the Q8 e-tron with a new charging system. The 50 e-tron can charge at up to 150kW, while the 55 e-tron and SQ8 e-tron can receive up to 170kW. So, if you can find a suitably fast DC rapid charging point, you’ll be able to top up the Q8’s larger 114kWh battery from 10 to 80 percent capacity in 31 minutes. In terms of range, that correlates to 240 miles.

The styling’s new, too. What’s that about?

Audi says the changes are more than just cosmetic – they’ve improved the e-tron’s aerodynamics which, in turn, has benefitted the car’s maximum range. The Q8 e-tron SUV’s drag coefficient has dropped from 0.28 to 0.26, while the Sportback’s has reduced from 0.26 to 0.24.

Key changes include new underbody spoilers that direct air away from the wheels (which cause a lot of drag by thrashing the air as they revolve) and a grille shutter that automatically blanks off the openings in the front of the car when they’re not required for cooling.

Audi Q8 e-tron SUV and Q8-etron Sportback, Sportback model facing forwards, studio shot in hanger

Audi has used a lot of recycled materials in the Q8 e-tron’s interior. For example, the carpets and sound deadening are made from recycled fibres, the seatbelt buckles are moulded from reused automotive plastic waste and the microfibre upholstery on certain models is woven from recycled plastic bottles. Audi says that, thanks to systems like these and its wider carbon offsetting efforts, the Q8 e-tron will be sold to European customers as a completely carbon-neutral vehicle.

Any fancy technology worth mentioning?

Of course. Audi has added a new remote parking function which will allow owners to steer their car into tight spaces using an app on their smartphone. Once parked, the Q8 e-tron will automatically turn itself off, apply the parking brake and lock the doors.

Audi Q8 e-tron SUV infotainment system and dashboard

The interior is standard fare for Audi these days – which is to say there are very few physical buttons. You get a 10.1-inch infotainment system, an 8.6-inch touchscreen climate control panel and a digital gauge cluster with a head-up display. Audi says a lot of the interior features can be activated using voice control, so you shouldn’t need to fiddle too much with the screens on the move.

Top spec versions of the Q8 e-tron will also come with a swanky set of digital Matrix LED headlights. They feature a new orientation light, which projects a box of light onto the road to outline the lane markings (as shown by the graphic below). Audi says this will make it easier for the driver to centre the car in its lane at night.

Audi Q8 e-tron SUV orientation light graphic

By Luke Wilkinson

Deputy Editor of Parkers. Unhealthy obsession with classic Minis and old Alfas. Impenetrable Cumbrian accent