2019 Audi Q8 Quattro Premium Plus

It loses a row but gains so much more


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Beautiful to behold inside and out, great seats and roominess in both rows, excellent build quality, fast and responsive in Dynamic mode.
Negatives: Twin touchscreens are distracting to use, turbo lag and throttle response overly noticeable, pricey.
Bottom Line: The Q8 is an excellent blend of 5-passenger comfort and exotic levels of styling. What it loses in terms of passenger capacity is made up for in terms of style and comfort. It's too bad the dual screen setup doesn't make for good driver focus.
Luxury crossovers buyers are fickle. They want it all; space, comfort, technology, performance, safety, looks. If these high-priced models could do it all, the competition wouldn't be as fierce. Now, the Q8 comes into the fray, and it's a highly stylized but less capacious version of the more blandly designed Audi Q7 three-row luxury crossover. Audi is aiming for the lifestyle set that's willing to pay more money for a fancier crossover that turns heads. The Q8 goes up against the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe, Porsche Cayenne Coupe, and the BMW X6. We drove the Q8 in Premium Plus guise for a week to see if the slick German could win our hearts. Read ahead for the full review.
 

Driving Experience

8.3

 

The Q8 is a potent vehicle with great handling capabilities, yet it gets hampered by poor throttle response in normal driving conditions. Other than that, it's fast, comfortable, and corners really well for a heavy vehicle.

Ride Quality: Though the ride is firm due to the big 22" wheels, it's still very comfortable and won't shake you up over uneven pavement. The Adaptive Suspension certainly helps.

Acceleration: Though the throttle response is lackluster in regular driving modes, the Q8 is pretty quick. It can jet to 60 mph in about five and-a-half seconds. You have to switch to Dynamic mode and then shift to "S" (Sport) to extract the most from the vehicle.

Braking: The brakes are firm and progressive. It has some of the shortest braking distances int the segment. We had no trouble bringing the Q8 to a stop quickly and without fanfare.

Steering: The Q8 has excellent steering, despite a lack of feedback. Turn in is quick, and there's good heft and effort. It's precise and on-center, too.

Handling: The Q8 corners better than its weight would imply. The Adaptive suspension works really well in Dyanmic mode, and the Q8 corners admirably. Just don't push it too hard because the weight becomes palpable.

Technology

8.7

 

We want to rate the Q8's in-car technology much higher because it just looks so damned pretty. It's too bad more and more carmakers are resorting to relying on touchscreens versus physical controls, which makes operating systems while driving more difficult and distracting. It's becoming more prevalent, and we have to accept it.

Infotainment System: Gone is the excellent MMI system that used a handwriting recognition control knob from the center console. Instead, there are two large touchscreens with haptic feedback. They look incredible, and they respond better than versions from Volvo and Jaguar. Too bad they're not better than physical controls because you have to look instead of use muscle memory and feel to use them. We also had a hell of a time finding the heated steering wheel control that's buried in the screen. Frustrating.

Controls: The super-short but flat and wide shift knob is just about perfect, and the steering wheel controls are also excellent. We just can't get fully behind the touchscreen controls, despite the fact that the haptic feedbakc works quite well.

Styling

9.9

 

In Daytona Gray Pearl paint with the bit 22" wheels, the Q8 looks about as good as any Audi sedan or coupe. It's far better executed than the Q7 on which its based with rakish lines, an aggressive grille, and beautiful taillights with those sequential turn signals.

Front: The large black grille has strong presence, and we love the simple and slim headlights. The lower intakes are big but not overly so, and the lack of chrome is welcomed.

Rear: Audi nailed the back end of the Q8 with perfect execution of sporty and sophisticated style. The steeply raked rear glass caps the awesome joined taillights that are very similar to the A7 sedan's.

Profile: Again, the absence of chrome makes the Q8 look properly business-like and aggressive. The huge wheels fill the wells nicely, and the sporty roofline provide a great view from this angle.

Cabin: The Q8's interior is one of the slickest around, and somehow it manages to make piano black look expensive instead of cheap. From the gauge fonts in the Audi Virtual Cockpit to the beautiful shift knob, the Q8's cabin is one of the best.

Comfort

9.5

 

There's plenty of room for five in the Q8, and since it uses the Q7's platform but eschews the third row, it's great for families that don't require seating for seven. Audi's seats are superb, and the materials quality is excellent.

Front Seats: Though they may not have the same level of micro-adjustability as the Multi-Contour seats from Volvo, Audi's are still great. The right amount of support and cushioning make them ideal for both long drives and sharp turns.

Rear Seats: The middle passenger gets shorted on cusion length, but there's still ample legroom and headroom for all.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The Q8 is well-built and remarkably solid. We didn't hear any errant noises even at highway speeds.

Visibility: The angle of the rear glass and the thick D-pillars impede rearward sightlines but not terribly so. The rear cameras and the 360 top view camera provid excellent mitigation of the problem. The seating position is top-notch, and front and side glass are sizable.

Climate: The climate system works well, as do the heated seats and steering wheel. We didn't test the ventilated seats in the dead of a Chicago winter.

Safety

9

 

The Q8 has been tested by both bodies, which is a bit of a surprise to us since it's a premium crossover. The results are very good, indeed, and buyers should take comfort that the high price they're paying nets them a very safe vehicle with great safety features, too.

IIHS Rating: The Q8 gets the Top Safety Pick rating thanks to excellent crash test scores and "superior" Front crash prevention. It gets dinged for only havine "acceptable" headlights, at best.

NHTSA Rating: The Q8 gets five stars from the federal government. It only suffers a one star loss in individual tests for driver's frontal crash and rollover tests.

Standard Tech: The standard equipment list, aside from ABS, traction control, and stability control isn't terribly long and includes Audi pre-sense front (low-speed collision assist).

Optional Tech: Our tester had upgraded packages with rear cross traffic, vehicle exit warning, Audi pre-sense rear, Adaptive Cruise assist w/ Traffic Jam assist, Audi active lane assist w/ emergency assist, and an intersection assistant that sends a visual and audible warning to the driver if a vehicle is crossing the Q8's path.

Storage/Cargo

8.9

 

Although the cabin could use more small gear storage space, the boot has quite a bit of usable cargo space thanks to the ditching fo the third row.

Storage Space: The front row has a decent cupholder and a small cubby in front of the armrest, but there's not much more than that. Door pockets, at least, are decently sized.

Cargo Room: The Q8 has a plentiful 30.5 cubic feet with all the seats in place and a very practical 60.7 cubes with the second row folded flat. The load floor is flat, and the rear opening is wide. It's bigger than the BMW X6 by a smidge in both areas but smaller than its Q7 brother.

Fuel Economy

7

 

For a powerful and stylish crossover, the Q8 actually has decent EPA numbers. It matches the 17/22/19 numbers of the BMW X6 xDrive50i but can't top the V6 Q7's 19/25/21. Our numbers were considerably lower given the fact that we drove in Dynamic/Sport mode 100% of the time to maximize throttle response.

Observed: 15.3 mpg.

Distance Driven: 151 miles.

Audio

9.6

 

The rather pricey $4,000 Premium Plus Package offers a lot, including the superb Bang & Olufsen premium surround sound system. It's rich, vibrant, and it delivers excellent clarity, as well. It's one of the better systems out there and matched perfectly with this stunning vehicle.



Final Thoughts

The Q8 is more than just a lifestyle vehicle, which it happens to pull off with remarkable skill. It's a fast and comfortable daily driver with space, great safety, and superb craftsmanship and materials. It does get hampered by its design-heavy infotainment system and its delayed throttle response, but the interior and exterior wow factors might just be worth it. Audi has taken a rather dull-looking Q7 and made one if its most beautiful vehicles in the Q8.
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