For awhile, you could either buy a gasoline-powered Audi Q8 five-seat SUV, or an all-electric Audi E-Tron five-seat SUV. Today, the naming gets a bit simpler, as Audi unveils its new flagship electric SUV: the Q8 E-Tron. Finally, the naming convention makes sense. But first, let’s talk about what you can expect from this Audi electric crossover.
Here in the U.S., we will be getting two versions of the Q8 E-Tron: The Q8 55 E-Tron and the SQ8 E-Tron. Both will come with a 106-kWh battery pack. Audi says the 55 will do 0-60 mph in just 5.6 seconds, with two motors (one at each axle) producing a total of 402 hp and 490 lb-ft of torque.
Step up to the SQ8 E-Tron, and you’ll get three motors: One at the front axle, and two at the rear, one per wheel. Audi says this top-dog electric SUV will do 0-60 in 4.5 seconds, thanks to a total of 496 hp and 718 lb-ft of torque.
Audi says the Q8 55 E-Tron will do up to 373 miles on a fully charged battery in Sportback configuration, and 362 miles in the slightly more upright standard body style. Those numbers do dip considerably if you step up to the performance-oriented SQ8, which offers a claimed 307 miles of range for the standard crossover and 319 miles for the Sportback. All of those numbers easily beat out the current E-Tron’s range of up to 225 miles.
In terms of charging, Audi says both the Q8 55 and SQ8 can charge at up to 170 kW. That means, in theory, you’ll be able to charge up from 10-percent battery to 80-percent in around 30 minutes.
Audi says putting “Q8” in front of the E-Tron’s name makes a clear statement that this is the top dog in the company’s electric crossover portfolio, which starts with the Q4 E-Tron and will soon extend to a new, yet-to-be-released Q6 E-Tron.
The Q8 E-Tron and Q8 Sportback E-Tron both get new front and rear fascias that are part of Audi’s EV design language. Small styling updates help the 2023 stand out, like a flattened Audi badge and the model designation laser-etched on the B-pillar and front and rear light bars. You can choose the color of the grille surround for some personalization, too.
Audi worked on the aerodynamics of the Q8 E-Tron family in order to eke out every last mile of range. The coefficient of drag has been lowered from 0.26 to 0.24 for the Sportback, and from 0.28 to 0.27 for the standard crossover. Overall, the size of the updated vehicle hasn’t really changed. It’s 16.1 feet long, 6.4 feet wide and 5.4 feet tall (5.3 feet tall for the Sportback). The SQ8 will be about 0.8 inches lower and 1.5 inches wider than the standard model, thanks to bigger fender flares and lowered sport suspension.
Good news – there is not a single piece of unpainted plastic to be found on the exterior of the Q8 E-Tron. Rejoice.
Please keep in mind that Audi has not provided us with photos of the new E-Tron’s interior. We’re told it’s not drastically different from the vehicle it replaces, but there are a few new touches. You can now get a whole bunch of new dash inlays including ash, sycamore or walnut wood, aluminum, or even carbon fiber on the S models.
And there are sustainability options. Audi says you can opt for upholstery made from recycled plastic bottles. In fact, the Q8 E-Tron is said to be “certified carbon-neutral” thanks to its use of recycled materials, especially in the insulation, sound dampening, and carpeting. If you go for the S-Line trim you’ll also be able to get synthetic leather seating and a microfiber material called Dinamica – which is also made out of recycled materials.
Audi’s MMI infotainment system has also been updated. For better or worse, the dual displays replace pretty much every knob or switch, complimenting the Audi virtual cockpit display behind the steering wheel.
All Q8 E-Tron models come standard with air suspension that can raise or lower by up to three inches, and revised progressive steering for quicker response.
Right now, Audi has not released any pricing data for the United States. But we shouldn’t have to wait too long to find out: Production is set to begin in early 2023, and the vehicles should start hitting U.S. showroom sometime next spring.