The Audi Q8 is a sporty sedan and a distinguished SUV rolled into one

Topics Audi | Auto sector | Weekend Reads

The Audi Q8. Photo: Kamlesh Pednekar
Few manufacturers have the guts to keep pushing out cars that are larger than the earlier versions in today’s quickly changing auto market that increasingly seems to prefer compact and mid-size crossovers, SUVs and sedans.

The Audi is one such rare manufacturer. The German carmaker recently launched the Q8 — the big brother (or sister) of the Q7, taking the technology and the dimensions of four-wheel-drive cars to the next level. Though the Q8 is broader than the Q7 by only a few millimetres, at 15 feet long and 6 feet wide, it is a very large SUV for Indian roads — although its air suspension and advanced electro-mechanics never let you feel it.

The Q8 is built to look much sleeker than the Q7. Its sharper, angular body lines give it a crossover feel as opposed to the rounded lines that define the other Q-category SUVs from Audi. This also means that the Q8 will be squarely targeting competitors that include the BMW X7, the Range Rover Sport, Volvo XC90 and the Mercedes-Benz GLC.

The new Audi SUV, which weighs over two tonnes, feels and behaves more like a sedan as it borrows technology and style heavily from the A-8 sedan. The twin-touch screen console, the use of leather and chrome, and the comfort all feel familiar and are reminiscent of Audi sedans, but not in a bad way. The steering, which is plush and leather wrapped, fits in nicely with the restrained but luxe interiors that are kitted out in leather and chrome accents. The sharp design cues hearken back to the A8 and don’t feel SUV-like at all.

Fire up the engine and the Q8 is easy to manoeuvre despite its size. The car comes equipped with a variety of driving modes, of which the dynamic sportier one is the most fun to drive on. In front of the driver, the dominating element is the multimedia infotainment console that works through a touch response display system. Designed in black, the panel does everything from controlling air temperature to increasing fan speed, and it does more with the touch of a finger. It is also easy to get accustomed to as a replacement for the traditional knobs and buttons. Switch it off and it blends into the dashboard like a piece of dark burled wood that you wouldn't look at twice. 

Audi says it wants the Q8 to combine the pulse-pounding dynamics of a sporty coupé with the roominess of an SUV. And while this is no Lamborghini, it certainly is no sluggish van either. The car's permanent Quattro (all-wheel) drive is accompanied with self-locking centre differential, which gives the Q8 a surefooted nimbleness and traction that you don’t expect from a rig this size. Even at a 30-degree slope, the Q8 will stay stable and firmly planted on the tarmac as though its wheels were held by Spidey’s spiderweb.

Taken along a highway, its 340hp petrol engine is sufficient to get the Q8 going. However, if you’re expecting pure exhilaration, you would have to switch to the dynamic mode. The output delivers for everyday driving conditions as also for intercity travelling.

The backseat is spacious and comfortable and the trunk voluminous enough to accommodate two golf sets or a family’s travel luggage.

Not so long ago, large SUVs were seen as the preferred choice of outdoorsy people who frequently went on mountain, hiking or fishing trips. Today, that’s come full circle and is best exemplified with the range of Qs that Audi has been selling in India over the last decade.

As large, premium German rides, which could house an actor, their bodyguard and social media manager, these SUVs that included the Q5 and the Q7 have been the primary choice of Bollywood stars across the pecking order. With the arrival of the Q8 there’s a new target audience waiting to be tapped. Think of that category as including not just movie stars but also the ones that reside in boardrooms, sports arenas or Parliament. The Q8 is, after all, sporty and distinguished. It’s a step into the future.

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