Audi Q8 is a ‘luxury lounge’ on wheels

It might have taken Audi quite a while, but it finally followed its fellow German manufacturers into the crossover coupe segment with the Q8.

Following its international launch last year, the Q8 went on sale in SA in May as direct competition for BMW’s X6 and the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe. The latter was born in 2014, while the X6 has been around for over a decade and is almost due for its third generation. In this segment, the practicality of a large SUV is combined with the elegance of a four-door coupe.

In the case of the Audi, the result is one mean-looking machine that turns heads. What contributed to the amount of attention the Q8 55 TFSI quattro Tiptronic – the only petrol derivative available locally for now – we had on test recently got, was its eye-catching orange colour which Audi terms Dragon Orange.

The colour is available exclusively for the Q8 and you can take the manufacturer’s word for gospel when it says “the new colour Dragon Orange dramatically underscores the sporty design”. The combination of the spunky colour, the upright brawny grille flanked by HD matrix LED daytime running headlights and very sexy 22-inch alloy wheels give the Q8 instant appeal. And in case you missed the front, the backside is just as sexy, with the narrow, high-gloss black element and an integrated light strip which extends between the rear lights accentuating the car’s width.

Audi claims that with a wheelbase of nearly 3 000mm, the Q8 beats its direct competitors in most relevant dimensions, including interior length and headroom. Being 4 990mm long, 2 000mm wide and 1 710mm tall, the Q8 is wider, shorter and lower than its Q7 sister model. Our test unit was fitted with the S Line Black Package, which includes the S Line exterior package and high gloss black styling package.

The 22-inch 5-Y-spoke Contrast Grey alloys and red brake callipers are also included. The 55 TFSI is powered by a three litre, six-cylinder spark-ignition petrol engine that produces 250kW of power and 500Nm of torque, available from 1 370 to 4 500rpm, and mated to an eight-speed Tiptronic gearbox. Audi claims this car uses 8.9 to 9.1l/100km, but our numbers were significantly over that mark.

Over the course of almost 400km which included over 100km on the highway, we only managed 15.7l/100km. Fortunately the Q8 has a 85-litre tank. The drivetrain is aided by new mild hybrid technology (MHEV), which enables the 48-volt main electrical system to incorporate two important technology modules: a lithium-ion battery and a belt alternator starter. During braking, it can recover up to 12kW of power and feed it back into the battery.

The MHEV technology enables long coasting phases with the engine deactivated and reduces consumption by up to 0.7-l/100km. Our test unit featured adaptive air suspension as an optional extra included in the S Line Sports Package. It adjusts the ride height depending on the driving situation and the driver’s preference by as much as 90mm in either comfort or sport setup.

On the inside, the Q8 is as impressive as the exterior and pretty much every bit of the “luxury lounge” Audi calls it. The finishing is of high quality, accentuated by the standard contour/ambient lighting package.

The Virtual Cockpit Display features a high-resolution 12.3-inch digital instrument panel which can be switched between two views via the multi-functional steering wheel, which further enhanced by the optional head-up display. In addition, a 10.1-inch display at the top of the centre console controls the navigation and infotainment and an 8.6-inch display below that manages heating and air conditioning, convenience functions and text input.

Out unit was kitted with the sports front seats, which are power adjustable, feature four-way lumbar support and a heating function. A standard Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System features 23 speakers and delivers 3D sound.

The Q8 comes standard with a healthy list of safety features, while our test unit included optional extras like lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and Night Vision Assistant. The 55 TFSI is priced at R1 388 000 and our test unit’s optional goodies added up to almost R300 000.

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