The 2019 Q8 is Audi’s new flagship crossover SUV. It’s stylish, quick, graceful, and stuffed with technology, and it’s built for comfort and speed.
The Q8 seats five just fine, but four get the royal treatment. It’s related to the Audi Q7, and shares its 117.9-inch wheelbase. Since it omits the third row of seats, the Q8 is three inches shorter than the Q7.
The Q8 uses Audi’s proven and smooth turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 with its 8-speed automatic transmission and full-time all-wheel-drive system. A 48-volt mild-hybrid system cuts the engine at stoplights for better mileage—19 mpg combined, according to the EPA.
The Q8’s standard adaptive dampers give it a supremely comfortable ride; the available air suspension with rear-wheel steering delivers magnificent isolation.
Standard equipment includes automatic emergency braking that can prevent or mitigate forward crashes up to 52 mph. Optional safety equipment includes adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, and rear side airbags. Audi’s available driver-assistance feature can help pilot the car for long distances or in stop-and-go traffic for 60 seconds without driver input, but it’s not totally hands-free.
The Audi Q8 comes in Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige trims.
At $68,395, the Q8 Premium has leather seats, a 10.1-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility,. an 8.6-inch touchscreen for climate and vehicle controls, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, Bluetooth and USB, panoramic sunroof, wood trim and 20-inch wheels.
For more than $72,000, the Premium Plus adds 21-inch wheels, premium audio, a surround-view camera system, four-zone climate control, and a driver assistance package.
The Prestige costs more than $77,000 and adds LED matrix headlights, a head-up display, leather dash, and cooled and massaged front seats.
Optional equipment includes Valcona leather, 22-inch wheels and red brake calipers. For the driver who wants assistance there is active lane control and traffic sign recognition. An adaptive air suspension is bundled with rear-wheel steering for $2,750. For $6,000 Audi fits the Q8 with brown leather, a silver headliner, and a gray leather dashboard.
The Q8 is sportier than the Q7, while its wide, strong face is more interesting than the three other Audi crossovers—the Q3, Q5 and Q7. The sideview reveals chunky sheetmetal, thick pillars, big wheel arches, and bulky rear doors.
The rear door cutouts spread to the wheel arches, where creases make the doors look smaller. Audi says the big doors mean smaller sills for easier entry and exit.
Every Q8 has acres of soft leather, piano black trim, and ambient LED lighting.
Like the Audi A6, A7, A8, and E-Tron, the new Q8 gets Audi’s latest driver info system using a 12.3-inch digital instrumentation screen, in addition to upper and lower touchscreens. The system has clear menus and is crisp and responsive. It uses satellite images for maps, curated lists for nearby restaurants from Yelp, has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and accepts voice commands for vehicle functions.
The standard heated leather seats are spacious and comfortable for long trips. Despite a low headliner to accommodate the standard panoramic sunroof, there’s enough headroom for very tall people—and that’s even with a high seating position that affords good forward vision. Thick rear pillars restrict rearward vision.
Despite being three inches shorter than the Audi Q7 (on the same wheelbase), the Q8 has two inches more rear legroom (more than 40 inches) as it’s not squeezed by a third row. The rear seat also slides forward four inches to make more room for cargo. The outboard seats are wide (wider than the Q7), while the center seat is best for a child or very slim person. Unlike Audi sedans, the floor is flat so the center passenger’s legroom isn’t compromised.
The cargo space is more than 30 cubic feet inside a big rear liftgate. That capacity doubles with the second row folded. With the optional air suspension, there’s a button inside the cargo space that lowers the car for easier loading.
As we said, the Q8 is built for comfort. It’s able to accelerate from 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds, on the strength of its superb 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 making 335 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. It’s mated exclusively to an 8-speed automatic transmission and rear-biased full-time all-wheel drive. The engine’s power comes on smoothly—triple-digit smoothly.
The Q8’s weight gives the steering a relaxed feel. The full-time all-wheel-drive system under normal driving sends 60 percent of the power to the rear wheels, but 80 percent is available if they need more. Despite its weight, the Q8 feels surefooted on loose surfaces.
The standard suspension with adaptive dampers has two modes, Comfort and Sport, but they should be named Comfort and More Comfort. It does an excellent job swallowing road imperfections.
The Q8 with the available air suspension is one of the most comfortable crossovers we’ve ever tested. The suspension comes with rear-wheel steering, which at slow speeds pivots the car for easier turning into parking spaces.
The Q8 looks great, and the drivetrain is flawless. It’s fast, smooth and grippy. With all the options, it gets quite expensive, but for those that can afford it, the 2019 Audi Q8 offers comfort on another level.
by Sam Moses, with driving impressions from TheCarConnection.com