2019 Audi Q8 55 TFSI Review
Isaac Bober’s 2019 Audi Q8 55 TFSI Review with Price, Specs, Performance, Ride and Handling, Interior, Ownership, Safety, Verdict and Score.
In a nutshell: The Audi Q8 arrives as the flagship Audi SUV and it’s equipped to appeal.
2019 Audi Q8 55 TFSI Specifications
Price $128,900+ORCs Warranty three years, unlimited kilometres Service Intervals 12 months, 15,000km Safety N/A Engine 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 petrol Power 250kW at 5500rpm Torque 500Nm at 2900-5300rpm Transmission eight-speed automatic Drive quattro all-wheel drive Dimensions 4986mm long, 2190mm wide, 1705mm high, 2995mm wheelbase Seats five Boot Space 531-1755 litres Spare space saver Weight 2265kg Towing 3500kg braked Fuel Tank 85 litres Thirst 9.2L/100km claimed combined (11.3L/10km on test)
When the BMW X6 went on-sale in 2008 the world viewed it as a bit of an oddity. The sloping backed Bimmer jarred slightly against the more practical-looking X5. Fast forward a few years and its look is more accepted thanks to the recent-ish arrival of the similarly-swoopy Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe.
Normally not too far behind its German rivals, Audi took its time and even went out if its way, and often too, to remind all and sundry it would never ape the swoopy style of the other two. And it hasn’t. The Audi Q8 arrived in Australia at the end of last year and while it plays in the same segment as the X6 and GLE Coupe, it doesn’t look like them, instead it looks more like someone took a pump to a Q3…at least that’s how it looks to me.
And while it has a higher number and might be wider than the Q7, the Q7 is longer and offers seven seats. Rather think about the Q8 as a sort-of SUV version of the A8 although its much cheaper than the big Audi sedan. There are only two variants available, the 55 TFSI we’re testing here and a diesel-powered 50 TDI which hasn’t arrived in Australia yet but will do shortly.
What’s the price and what do you get?
Audi has tried to do what premium car makers normally don’t and that is properly equip their vehicles so that the options list becomes a nice to have rather than containing things you absolutely need. Remember, some premium makers charge extra for things like Apple CarPlay connectivity and so on.
Like the Audi A8 pricing strategy, both the petrol and diesel Q8s start at the same price which is $128,990+ORCs. And the Q8, as mentioned, is very well specced for the money, offering 21-inch alloy wheels, adaptive suspension, S line exterior bodykit (optional overseas), LED headlights, electric tailgate, leather trim, electrically adjustable and heated/ventilated front seats, tri-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control and no fewer than three colour screens – 12.3-inch driver display dubbed Virtual Cockpit, plus a 10.1-inch upper and 8.6-inch lower centre touchscreens, complete with smartphone (Apple and Android) connectivity, digital radio, navigation and 360-degree camera.
But there are still plenty of option boxes to tick and our test car was fitted with the Premium Plus package which costs $11,000 and includes 22-inch alloys (replacing the 21s), air suspension, rear privacy glass, Matrix LED headlights with dynamic front/rear indicators and auto-adaptive high-beam, four-zone climate control, 17-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio and ambient lighting.
There’s also a Full Leather package which, for $8900 buys Nappa leather for the centre console, door armrests, upper and lower dashboard, lower door trims and electric rear sunblinds. A Dynamic package ($4500) adds four-wheel variable-ratio steering to create a 1.1-metre turning circle reduction, a panoramic sunroof asks $3550, electric soft-close doors cost $1500 and front seat massage functionality requires $1050.
What’s the interior like?
Swing open the frameless doors, unique in this class, and the cabin looks and feels impressive. There’s good use of soft-touch materials and the fit and finish on our test car was excellent. Indeed, the cabin design borrows heavily from the A8 and A7 Sportback and is a step ahead when compared to other Audi models and even the Q7. That said, the dashboard looks bare at first until you realise the controls for much of what the Q8 can do are buried in the twin screens or via flush-fitting buttons that can be hard to see at first.
What are the front seats like?
The front seats offer impressive levels of adjustment both forwards and backwards and up and down, and there’s good adjustment on the steering wheel too. From behind the wheel the Q8 doesn’t feel as big as it looks on the outside and while it’s physically shorter in the body than a Q7 it shares the same platform which means those in the front and back get more space. All the general controls fall easily-ish to hand and the stubby gear shifter is a good rest when using the lower screen on the dashboard.
What are the back seats like?
There’s plenty of leg and head room in the back, helped by the fact the rear seats can be moved forwards and backwards to either make more legroom or sneak a little extra boot space. The two outboard seats aren’t as well-shaped as the front seats but they rarely are and the middle seat is broad but lacks shape and is best used as an occasional seat only. For those in the back there are directional air vents with temperature controls and USB charging outlets. The back rest in the middle folds down to form an armrest with cupholders and there are ISOFIX mounts on the two outboard seats – there are top tether anchors on the back rests but they’re mounted low which isn’t super convenient if the boot is loaded and you need to remove a seat. The back seats fold 40:20:40.
What’s the boot space like?
Because of the sliding rear bench the boot volume ranges from 531 litres to 606 litres depending on the bench configuration. Drop the back seats down and you get up to 1755 litres of storage. The tie down points and solid and fold flush into the floor and are mounted conveniently in the boot floor – I used them to hold an air compressor in place (sorry Audi) and they worked perfectly. There are a couple of net pouches around the boot and because the tail-gate is nice and big it’s easy to load and unload bulky items thanks to the non-existent boot lip. Beneath the floor is a space-saver spare.
What are the infotainment and controls like?
When I dropped back the Q8 I then collected an RS5 (review online next week) which offers the ‘old-school’ rotary dial Audi MMI interface which feels incredibly clunky in comparison to the Q8’s twin touch-screens with everything loaded into them.
Move your finger towards the screen and the icon brightens and you get a haptic response when you press the screen so you know when you’ve ‘pressed’ the button. The graphics are crisp and clear and the speed with which the system responds is impressive. The way the sat-nav works too is impressive because you have the choice, not just if using voice control to set a destination, but using your finger on the lower screen to write a destination but can then choose from either the native sat-nav or using Google Maps. Indeed, testing the two, I couldn’t get the native system to recognise my home address but via Google it found the address in seconds. It’s also neat, how you input the navigation details on the lower screen while the top screen remains a map.
The cameras are excellent too and the ability to pinch and zoon on a part of the car while parking helps ensure you don’t kerb the giant wheels. But there’s a slight disconnect with the driver assist systems; some are on the stalks by the steering wheel, some are hidden within the menus and then some are hidden deeper in sub-menus. You’d need to spend a lot of time working your way around the system because it’s easy to get lost down rabbit holes with such a feature-rich but not totally user-friendly or logical layout.
Our test car had the cost optional Premium Plus package which includes Matrix LED headlights and it’s worth mentioning them here. They are simply unbelievable. Travel at more than 80km/h and the automatic high beam will activate and watching the lights black out cars you’re following or that are coming towards you is impressive to say the least. In a 50 kilometre drive the other night with 30 kilometres of it driven at more than 80km/h the auto high beam never missed a beat. We weren’t flashed once by oncoming vehicles. More than that, the light thrown by the headlights is a clean and natural light which according to Audi is less fatiguing on your eyes and I’d agree with that from my experience.
What’s the performance like?
The 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 engine in the Q8 offers 250kW of power at 5500rpm and 500Nm of torque from 2090-5300rpm. It’s mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. It’ll hit 100km/h from rest in 5.9 seconds and while it’s not fast in the same way that an RS5 is, once it’s in its stride it accumulates speed like a raging bull. And, despite its bulk (2265kg) the addition of a 48V mild-hybrid system which can switch off the engine below 22km/h when it detects you’re coming to a stop or when you’re coasting along the highway means fuel consumption is a claimed 9.2L/100km.
The stop-start system is smoother and quicker than many others. And the eight-speed automatic is a tale of two halves. Once you’re up and over, say, 40km/h, the eight-speed automatic is as smooth as silk and as responsive as you could want. But at low speed it can be a little hesitant.
What’s the ride and handling like?
Riding on 22-inch alloys and licorice strap thin rubber we expected some harshness to the ride but on the dynamic air suspension there was nothing to worry about. Hard edges were heard more than they were felt and it ultimately ends up feeling compliant and comfortable. And body control through corners was impressive for what is a very bulky and big SUV. Sure, you wouldn’t go so far as to suggest its sports car fun, but it’s effective in the way it gets itself into, around and then out of corners. Dial up Dynamic mode and there’s almost no body roll through corners, indeed, the Q8 sits even-Stephen with the BMW X6 on a twisting road but is more comfortable than the Bimmer.
Thanks to quattro all-wheel drive (40:60 standard split) there’s plenty of grip on offer and while the steering offers next-to-no feedback at all through the wheel its quick and accurate meaning that the big Q8 doesn’t always feels as big and bulky on tight twisting roads as it is. You can get four-wheel steering as a cost-option although it wasn’t fitted to our test car but, as we reported in our first drive of the Audi Q8, it chops more than a metre off the turning circle.
What’s it like off the road?
The Audi Q8 isn’t the sort of large SUV you’d take off-roading in the same way you would a Range Rover Sport. Sure, the air suspension offers an off-road mode which sees the ground clearance raised to 254mm but the 22-inch wheels are not rough-road friendly and while the all-wheel drive system is excellent on-road, it’s not intended for rock hopping. So, keep your Q8 on a well-graded dirt road and you’ll be fine.
Does it have a spare?
Yes, a space saver under the boot floor. The space saver is speed limited to just 80km/h and is only intended to help you limp to a repair centre.
Can you tow with it?
The Q8 boasts a 3500kg towing capacity with a 350kg towball download which is impressive but without GVM figures available at the time of writing it’s hard to determine the full towing capability.
What about ownership?
Audi, like most other premium makers is limited to a three-year warranty, although at least Audi offers unlimited kilometres to go with it. Services are scheduled for 12 months or 15,000km. Audi offers up-front service plans lasting three or five years; for the Q8 it’s $2040 for three years and $2950 for five years.
What about safety features?
The Audi is well equipped where safety is concerned with the usual suspects like front and rear airbags, traction and stability controls as well as quattro all-wheel drive. It also offers both a long-range radar and forward-facing camera for both high and low-speed autonomous emergency braking as well as working in with the matrix LED headlights. You’ve got forward, reverse and full surround cameras, lane keeping assist, intersection assist which can apply the brakes if it detects a vehicle travelling towards you is going too fast for you to pull out. And there’s electric door latches that will keep the door shut if it detects a cyclist approaching when you’re trying to open the door.