The ultimate SUV

Due to arrive early next year, the Audi Q8 sets a new standard in the luxury SUV ranks.

The serene and elegant A8 is Audi’s leading saloon; now the new Q8 takes that same commanding flagship role among the SUV line-up. Meet the new face of Audi’s growing Q family of SUVs.

Peter McKay

13 December, 2018

The striking new Audi Q8 sports utility vehicle arrives early in 2019 as the equally luxurious yet more versatile and adventurous relative to the A8 limousine. 

It is of course way more than that, a sportier, slightly smaller, tech-laden five-seat alternative to the Audi Q7 top-of-the-totem SUV. Handsome and aggressive looking with a strong kerbside presence, combining the roominess and functionality typical of an SUV with the swoopy body shape of a four-door coupé.

Loaded with useful equipment, including the latest in connectivity and infotainment, the new Q8 is an elegant and refined multi-purpose machine that is even rugged enough to adapt to off-road work.

Surprise and delight features are everywhere. Some significant; others merely thoughtful. It adds up to a bundle of sensible practicality, elegant style and generous, cossetting comfort. It wants for nothing.

Above all, the Q8 is miraculously quiet thanks to elaborate sound insulation and outstanding aero-acoustics.  Available too is optional acoustic glazing.

Power-assisted door closure is sure to be a much-chosen option.  It whispers ‘refined’ in a very sure fashion.

The Q8 follows the A8 saloon’s bold and contemporary design language with a dramatic coupe profile and that impossible-to-ignore ‘face’ with latest more prominent interpretation of Audi’s signature eight-sided singleframe grille corralled by eye-catching animated LED headlights and prominent air intakes.  Daytime running lights with digital graphics add to the notable visuals.

In profile, the rear of the turret falls away in a racy fashion. Unique-to-the-segment frameless doors give the Q8 a lightness that offsets the visual strength of the overall package, while the interior look is completed by heritage rear-wheel-arch blisters reminiscent of the Ur quattro. The S Line styling package, with 21-inch wheels, is standard on the Q8.


Surprise and delight features are everywhere. Some significant; others merely thoughtful

The Q8 was created under the direction of head of design, Marc Lichte, who has put his stamp on the look of the latest SUV

The Q8 rides on the same advanced modular MQB EVO platform as the Q7. Nearly 40 per cent of the Q8 is constructed of aluminium. It has a five-link suspension design front and rear, with some clever electronically controlled adaptive dampers, which constantly adjusts the Q8 to ever-changing driving situations.

The arrival of the Q8 alongside the slightly larger seven-seat Q7 will give shoppers an embarrassment of riches, and perhaps a difficult choice. Which to buy? Obviously no buyer profile exists yet for the Q8 although a hectic advance order bank gives an immediate picture of purchasers’ independence and individuality.

The Q8 was created under the direction of head of design, Marc Lichte, who has put his stamp on the look of the latest SUV.

The beautifully finished and detailed cabin is a advance of Audi’s minimalist design dictum with a clear horizontal orientation, harmonious fusion of quality materials, and clever and intuitive operating system similar to the A8, and Audi’s very cool high-res 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit display.

The latest in MMI connectivity and entertainment is based around two large central touchscreens with haptic and acoustic feedback and just a few buttons and dials.  Interacting with the Virtual Cockpit display, they also work so easily with menu icons you can prioritise with drag and drop moves. The lower screen, for climate control, seat heating and cooling and other convenient commands, gives user-choices of voice instructions, swipe and pinch and intelligent text input via finger doodles using letters and numbers! Standard sat-nav map presentation is 3D, but there is also a Google map overlay with topography data. Handily, the navigation system understands the driver’s preferences based on previous trips. Audi offers free map updates for five years.


Three-zone climate control air conditioning (with separately adjustable temperature and air distribution settings) is standard as are a Wi-Fi hotspot, Audi smartphone integration with wireless charging, digital radio, and head-up display projecting  important information onto the windscreen. A brace of 360-degree cameras including kerb view function reduces risk of scraped alloys. Making life easier is a power opening/closing tailgate with foot-activated gesture control (if your hands are full).

Cabin comfort is brilliant with customised Valcona leather contour seats replete with heat and ventilation and four-way lumbar adjustment. Available too is an optional multiple choice massage function. 

Interior room is more than generous.  In defiance of the rakish, sloping roof line, there is no loss of head room and rear seat comfort for the passengers in the second row. Cargo space is unstinting too, varying between 605 litres with the sliding 40/20/40 split rear seats in place, and as much as 1755 with the rears flipped flat.

In all, 39 driver assistance systems are available in the Q8. Many are potential life savers like cross traffic assist rear, which alerts a reversing Q8 driver in danger by detecting moving vehicles, and a door exit warning system which identifies vehicles and cyclist, and intersection crossing assist which monitors the area to the front and side of your Audi at junctions and exit roads to detect oncoming objects.

These wonderful systems are additional to the lauded and familiar features including adaptive drive assist including adaptive cruise control with stop & go, distance indicator and traffic jam assist and lane guidance assist, attention assist (which issues a warning alert tone and visual signal if the driver’s attention is flagging), and tyre pressure loss indicator.

These and so many more… lane change and blind spot warning, parking sensors and cameras, auto high and low beam assist, and front airbags for driver and passenger, side airbags for front and rear side passengers, and front and rear head curtain airbag.


Cabin comfort is brilliant with customised Valcona leather contour seats replete with heat and ventilation and four-way lumbar adjustment

Those with a preference for diesel can expect the Q8 50 TDI to arrive later in 2019

At launch, the only propulsion available will be the 55 TFSI quattro eight-speed tiptronic with the 250kW/500Nm 3.0-litre turbocharged petrol V6 supported by what will soon be the norm across the Audi model range, an electrified drivetrain – 48-volt Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle technology (MHEV). Functioning as the Q8’s main electrical system, this new 48-volt lithium-ion battery system has an extended start/stop and coasting function which offers up to 40 seconds of engine-off emissions-free travel between 55 and 160km/h. This boosts the internal combustion engine by up to 6kW and 60Nm for short intervals.  There’s power recuperation too, helping the fuel figures.

Those with a preference for diesel can expect the Q8 50 TDI to arrive later in 2019. Also a 3.0-litre V6, plus the 48V mild hybrid assist, it puts out 210kW/620Nm, returning a thriftier 6.7 litres/100km.

Pricing for both the Q8 55 TFSI and Q8 50 TDI is $128,900 plus on-road costs.

Destined to be a popular choice of extras is the $11,000 Premium Plus package which extends to a 22-inch alloys, adaptive air suspension with continuously variable adaptive damping, privacy windows, HD Matrix LED headlamps with dynamic indicators, four-zone climate control which includes touchscreen controls in the rear, and LED colour interior lighting package with 30 selectable colours. And the conversation stopper - the Bang & Olufsen sound system coming at you via 17 loudspeakers including 3D sound, centre speaker and subwoofer, 16-channel amplifier with an output of 730 watts.

Not strong enough? Go instead for the Bang & Olufsen Advanced 3D system, with 23 speakers and a grand output of 1920 watts.

Upscale prestige now offers even greater choices. Customers with large families or a need to transport lots of people on seats will certainly preference the Q7 over the Q8, which has two seats fewer, and is shorter, lower but wider.

But the Q8’s daring, contemporary looks, stratospheric levels of refinement and comfort, stunning features including the mild hybrid technology, reassuring safety gear and satisfying performance will surely woo a whole new group of buyers to the new premium SUV on the block.