In a way, the new Audi Q8 is the shape of premium cars to come. Because it combines the elegance of a four-door luxury coupé with the practicality of a large SUV, it will likely appeal to both sedan lovers and those who want to be seen in an SUV. This body shape—call it quasi-SUV or a crossover—is the industry’s offering to a customer who is getting ever so discerning. We drive the flagship that will be launched in India on January 15, 2020.
What is the Q8?
The Q8 is marginally smaller than the Q7 SUV, but has a bigger wheelbase. Unlike the Q7—which has seven seats—the Q8 seats five, and that means an uber-luxurious cabin. Remember, space is the ultimate luxury—space enough for you to lounge, relax, sit cross-legged, or operate a laptop sitting cross-legged.
What defines its design?
Its sloping roofline and frameless windows are so coupé-like. And its short rear overhang (the body part that extends beyond the wheelbase), high ground clearance (254 mm) and hefty 22-inch wheels give it every bit a futuristic SUV appearance. The Q8 is not just a smart looking Audi, it is one of the fanciest cars you’d have seen in a long time.
How luxurious is the cabin?
For four adults, the cabin is roomy. But when three large-sized adults sit abreast at the rear, it gets a bit tight—the middle passenger has to keep her legs on either side of the central transmission tunnel. The good thing is the seats have endless adjustments, and rear seat can be reclined.
The cabin is minimalist—there are very few buttons and controls. The large touchscreen display is unique in the way it provides feedback—both haptic and audio. You have to get used to the amount of pressure needed to use the touchscreen. The experience is a bit like Apple’s Force Touch technology; Audi has done the same for cars. But the touchscreen for climate control is placed lower—between the dashboard and centre console—and you cannot operate it without taking your eyes off the road. Honestly, it’s poor placement.
Which engines will power it?
The Q8 will be launched only with a petrol engine—the 3.0-litre TFSI that produces 340bhp and 500Nm torque. Its claimed fuel efficiency is 13.9kpl, and carbon dioxide emissions are 168 gm/km. Part of the reason for good fuel efficiency is mild hybrid technology. It’s got a lithium-ion battery located under the luggage compartment floor and a 48-volt belt alternator starter that is connected to the crankshaft. During braking, it recovers power and feeds it back into the battery, and can help the Q8 coast—drive without using engine power—for short distances. Then there is start-stop technology—the engine stops running when the car comes to a standstill with the brakes applied fully.
The Q8 drives pretty much like a sedan, actually like a sports car. There is minimal body roll—which is even found in the Q7. The eight-speed tiptronic is a proven automatic gearbox, and it runs on quattro—the permanent all-wheel drive system.
How much will it be priced?
It’s priced in the range of 80,000 euros in Germany, or about Rs 65 lakh, but with the plethora of taxes in India—the Q8 will be a CBU import—including customs duty, CVD, multiple cesses, expect the price to be upwards of Rs 1 crore. That is both a good thing and bad for the consumer. Bad is that it’ll be far more expensive than the similarly-sized Q7 (Rs 69 lakh). Good is, at these prices, the Q8 will always remain exclusive, rare, like gold dust. And it’s two cars in one.
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