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The Top Gear car review:Audi SQ8
For:Engine, tech, under-the-radar speed
Against:Weird lag. And why isn’t it as much fun as an SQ7?
What is it?
One of our favourite performance SUVs, only with two fewer seats, a supposedly more stylish body and, naturally, a higher price tag. Yep, Audi has finally taken the 4.0-litre, twin-turbocharged diesel V8 from the seven-seat SQ7 and stuffed it in the front of the Q8 - the company’s answer to such cars as the BMW X6, Mercedes GLE Coupe, Porsche Cayenne Coupe and so-on.
Only things are a bit different this time around - now the powertrain is fully compliant with all the latest WLTP emissions regulations (you’ve not been able to buy an SQ7 for a while for this reason) and features a mild-hybrid setup.
The SQ7 was among the first cars to get a proper 48-volt electrical system, which it used to power the V8 TDI’s electronically-powered compressor (EPC) and active roll stabilisation tech. The SQ8, meanwhile, adds a belt-alternator starter and small lithium-ion battery, giving mild-hybrid capabilities like engine-off coasting at speeds of between 34 and 99mph, battery regeneration and exceptionally smooth stop/start.
You can’t plug it in and it can’t travel for any distance whatsoever on electric power as neither of the axles is connected to an electric motor. That’s not what mild-hybrids do. Nonetheless Audi claims the tech saves half a litre of fuel for every 100 kilometers, or 62 miles, driven. Probably not a saving you’ll notice, but we’ll take it.