Audi Q8 e-tron Driving, Engines & Performance | Top Gear
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What is it like to drive?

The first thing that strikes you about the Q8 e-tron is that it’s all very smooth. The controls are quite firmly weighted, so there’s a heft to the steering and the pedals all feel very firm. In fact, the brakes almost feel unservoed when you first stomp on them, but the transition from regen to disc has been well smothered. Audi’s quite proud of how much regen it can get out of the car under braking, and it’s impressively engineered.

The second thing that strikes you is how un-EV-like it all is – Audi’s electric flagship majors more on the latter than the former. It’s nice to drive an electric vehicle that doesn’t scream about it. The flip side is that you can easily get carried away on the move into the sort of driving behaviour that’s best reserved for cars with large petrol tanks.

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It can’t be all roses, surely?

Well, it is quite heavy. A common refrain these days, but the Q8 e-tron tips the scales over 2.5 tonnes, which is weighty by anyone’s standards. Another thing we didn’t like – and there’s almost certainly a sub-menu settings choice we’ve not found yet that will address this – is that the lack of creep when reversing makes parking feel dicier than it needs to.

Especially with the crazy digital wing mirrors fitted, which don’t really show you what you need to see. You end up stabbing at the throttle to get yourself into position and it feels like it could easily end in embarrassment. More positively, the Q8 e-tron is rated for towing up to 1,800kg of braked trailer, which is a pretty decent effort for an electric car. Of course, the weight of the thing means you’ll need to take an extra test to try that out to its fullest potential. 

What about the SQ8 e-tron, is it fun to drive?

It really depends how you get your kicks – it’s ruthlessly efficient at grabbing a road and choking the life out of it, but that’s not always enjoyable. Lots of fast EVs these days have a sort of rollercoaster quality where you just hang on and grit your teeth until it’s over. 

The other aspect of this is that driving the SQ8 e-tron fast means draining your battery at an alarming rate, which is something performance electric driving has yet to address. How can you have fun on a long drive? If we're honest, we’d much prefer to take things more sedate in one of the less punchy powertrains and get the extra miles.

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Run me through the powertrain options…

The 50 set-up offers 335bhp and 490lb ft of torque for a 6.0-second run to 62mph, and a 124mph top speed. The 55 model has 402bhp and the same torque and top speed as the 50, knocking four tenths off the 0–62mph run. These two cars are powered by e-motors on the front and rear axles for all-wheel drive. It’s no Land Rover, but there’s enough traction to reassure on dodgy surfaces.

The SQ8 pumps out an impressive 496bhp and whopping 718lb ft of torque from its three e-motors (one at the front and one powering each of the rear wheels), squirrels to 62mph in 4.5 seconds and has a slightly higher 130mph top speed. The 50 gets an 89kWh battery for a range of up to 290 miles, while the 55 and S cars get a larger 106kWh battery. The 55 will manage up to 343 miles in Sportback guise, while the S’s perkier performance means it will only manage up to 295 miles, and that’s if you’re very gentle with the accelerator.

Variants We Have Tested

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