When the Audi E-tron SUV arrived in 2018 as Audi’s first proper electric car, it made headlines thanks to its impressive 150kW charging rate, but even then, the range was nothing to write home about. Four years later, his numbers are only good, so it better be time for a face-lift.
Indicating the depth of the updates is a new name: to bring the flagship into line with the smaller Audi Q4 E-tron and the upcoming Q6 E-tron, it is now known as Audi Q8 E-tron🇧🇷
There are a few visual tweaks, including new alloy wheel designs and redesigned bumpers and grilles, but the big news can be found under the skin. Four years of advances in battery energy density have allowed Audi to increase the usable capacities of the batteries from 71 kWh to 89 kWh (in the base 50) and from 89 kWh to 106 kWh (in the Model 55 and the sporty Audi SQ8 E-tron). 🇧🇷 Meanwhile, more advanced engines and lower drag coefficients have improved energy efficiency.
However, 2.6 mph is still pretty poor, and in my test drive in very mild conditions, the digital dash only indicated 2.2 mph—a figure that translates to an actual range of just 230 miles.
When you need a top-up, the 55 can accept charging rates of up to 170 kW — a useful boost, but a long way from the competition’s Genesis Electrified GV70’s 240 kW limit.
Rounding out the upgrades are faster steering, a retuned suspension (as before, all variants are air-powered), and more intelligent stability control and traction control.
As before, the Q8 E-tron is a beautiful, well-proportioned car, and in Sportback form it doesn’t suffer from the inelegance of some sporty coupes.
Not much has changed inside either, with the solid build quality and premium materials remaining just right. The lower (weather) touchscreen still performs a function that buttons and switches could do better, but it works well, as does the main infotainment touchscreen. The sports seats are easy to accommodate and there is no shortage of storage space.
To drive, the Q8 E-tron is fun and practically natural. A 0-62 mph time of 5.6 seconds is fast by any reasonable standard, but it doesn’t suffer from the throttle response of Teslas and some other electric vehicles. You can change the amount of regenerative braking with the paddles or simply let the car learn about it in adaptive mode.
The Q8 E-tron maintains impressive noise isolation, but even on Lanzarote’s glass-smooth roads there was more queasy ride anxiety than you might expect from an air-suspension luxury car. It at least emits cracks and potholes reasonably well, despite its large wheels.
An Audi vehicle dynamics engineer told me it was a deliberate choice not to float an Audi on the road like a Mercedes-Benz S-Class or Range Rover. That’s probably fair enough in Germany, but it can be a bit much on UK roads. The old E-tron strikes a nice balance, so it would be a shame if we found it pushed too far in the sporty direction with this update.
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