Audi Q8 e-tron Sportback first drive review: Confident update to a confident EV

Audi Q8 e-tron Sportback
₹1.40 crore (expected)
4 out of 5
Pros
  • Stylish body looks
  • Well-kitted cabin
  • Impressive range
Cons
  • Not the most enthusiastic to drive
  • Audi India is ready to drive out the Q8 e-tron and its sportback versions in the market in August.
The Audi Q8 e-tron and Q8 e-tron Sportback SUV are looking at cornering the interest of a mature luxury EV buyer.
The Audi Q8 e-tron and Q8 e-tron Sportback SUV are looking at cornering the interest of a mature luxury EV buyer.

Audi India has been expanding its product portfolio at a relatively rapid pace and apart from offering luxury and performance models here, has repeatedly underlined its commitment towards the electric range as well. The e-tron, therefore, was a firm statement in this regard but it will now have to make way for a mode that is even more stylish, even more capable and even more fun to drive. Say hello to the Q8 e-tron and the Q8 e-tron Sportback.

The Audi Q8 e-tron all-electric SUV and its sportback version will officially launch in the country on August 18. And ahead of its launch, the Germans are making some very big promises that could further intensify an already intense battle in the luxury EV space.

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Taking the challenge to the Mercedes-Benz and BMW camp may not be easy but the Audi Q8 e-tron, at least on paper, has a lot that is working for it. But do all of these translate to capability and ‘wow and woo’ factor in the real world?

Here is the first-drive review of the Audi Q8 e-tron Sportback:

Watch: Audi Q8 etron: First drive review

Audi Q8 e-tron Sportback: Styling on point

The Q8 e-tron and Q8 e-tron Sportback follow the same design language as all other Audi models in the lineup and yet, get some distinct highlights on the exterior body that is pleasing to the senses. The front grille has been redesigned and is now larger and is complimented with the new 2D Audi logo. The LED Matrix head light styling has been updated as well. The styling of the alloys on the 20-inch wheels continue to be simple while the rear profile gets a new LED light design with an LED bar running across the width of the boot. There are push-button charging points on either side of the car, great because one won't have to bother about which way to park it at a charging station.

Q8 e-tron Sportback
A look at the front design of the Q8 e-tron Sportback.
Q8 e-tron Sportback
A look at the front design of the Q8 e-tron Sportback.

This design language of the Q8 e-tron is not radical and that is exactly why the SUV scores big points because it still comes out as a confident-looking EV that has a lot of appeal even when just standing still. But if you do want a slight bit more flair, there is always the sportback version which has a swooping roofline towards the end.

 Q8 e-tron Sportback
A closer look at the side and rear profile of the Q8 e-tron Sportback.
 Q8 e-tron Sportback
A closer look at the side and rear profile of the Q8 e-tron Sportback.

Audi Q8 e-tron Sportback: Cabin - a confluence of tech and comfort

The Q8 e-tron Sportback is quite well kitted, an important factor if it has to blast its way past its direct rivals. A dual-screen set up sees the main infotainment unit team up with another screen for HVAC controls. While this remains the main brain of the cabin, the touch interface - complete with Haptic feedback - is still rather tedious to use. Also, while most customers are likely to appreciate the second screen, I personally would have appreciated physical buttons and knobs far more.

 Q8 e-tron Sportback
Audi is offerring multiple upholstery colour customisation options on the Q8 e-tron.
 Q8 e-tron Sportback
Audi is offerring multiple upholstery colour customisation options on the Q8 e-tron.

Moving ahead, there is the familiar MID unit - Audi Virtual Cockpit - that still is one of the best in this league. It puts out an Encyclopedia-worth of information and is a central command point for the driver who can also now make use of massage functionality. The front two seats in the EV have massage, heating and cooling capabilities and are typically well cushioned with high quality materials used all around.

Scoot to the back and the quality continues to excel. While the seats and space here are and is quite generous, there is a big hump on the floorbed which means that the person in the middle isn't quite a good idea.

 Q8 e-tron Sportback
The rear seats inside the Q8 e-tron Sportback is best for two and despite the swooping roofline in this version, there is generous amount of head space.
 Q8 e-tron Sportback
The rear seats inside the Q8 e-tron Sportback is best for two and despite the swooping roofline in this version, there is generous amount of head space.

Other factors such as large windows, panoramic sunroof, 16-speaker Bang and Olfusen sound system, multi-zone climate control and ambient lighting seek to elevate the mood and do so commandingly well.

Audi Q8 e-tron Sportback: Charged-up drive

The Audi Q8 e-tron and Q8 e-tron Sportback pack a larger 114 kWh battery pack at its core. The battery is responsible for breathing life into a dual-motor set up for a power output of 408 hp and around 664 Nm of torque.

 Q8 e-tron Sportback
The Q8 e-tron Sportback has a stylish personality on the move with a lower drag coefficient than that of the Q8 e-tron. Otherwise, the two versions are absolutely identical in terms of drive specs and performance.
 Q8 e-tron Sportback
The Q8 e-tron Sportback has a stylish personality on the move with a lower drag coefficient than that of the Q8 e-tron. Otherwise, the two versions are absolutely identical in terms of drive specs and performance.

The great thing about this battery and such performance capabilities is that you can be as excitable behind the wheel as you want to be without bothering much about the remaining range. The Q8 e-tron Sportback has solid drive traits and the response to throttle inputs are impressive. Engage the Dynamic drive mode and there is a delicious momentum shift that is mighty pleasing on highways.

Q8 e-tron Sportback
Quattro All-Wheel Drive system on the Q8 e-tron Sportback helps the EV tackle trail roads with ease. The Offroad drive mode further increases ground clearance.
Q8 e-tron Sportback
Quattro All-Wheel Drive system on the Q8 e-tron Sportback helps the EV tackle trail roads with ease. The Offroad drive mode further increases ground clearance.

And highways are not going to be forbidden territories either because the Q8 e-tron claims to have a range of up to 600 kilometres. This ought to settle somewhere around the 500 km-mark in the real world, still mighty capable for long drives. And when charge is running low, the SUV can be plugged in to the 22 kW (AC) unit which comes with it for a six-hour charge timeline. The model supports up to 170 kW DC charging as well, obviously where available.

Audi Q8 e-tron Sportback: Verdict

The Q8 e-tron and its sportback versions are solid updates to the outgoing e-tron SUV. Mature yet stylish visual appeal, a well-kitted cabin and an impressive range are some of its stellar highlights. But it may not find favour of those who want something outworldly in terms of either design, performance or even in feature list. As a step up for those with luxury cars already parked in their garage, the Audi Q8 e-tron still promises to be a viable option.

Audi India will launch the Q8 e-tron and Q8 e-tron Sportback in the country on August 18 and should be able to rake in decent numbers in terms of sales and statement.

First Published Date: 22 Jul 2023, 10:56 AM IST
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