In terms of local launches, 2018 was a quiet year for the Audi brand, but the automaker has been working hard to bring new and exciting models to South Africa’s premium car market for 2019. To set the tone for what’s to come, Audi has finally launched its brand new Q8 premium SUV for our local market, and if this newcomer is anything to go by, Audi customers are in for some more ‘revolutionary’ models to come.
The new Audi Q8 has been specifically designed to encompass a good mix of elegance and sportiness in the luxury SUV segment. It doesn’t take much to convince anyone of its eye-catching exterior – pictures that we posted to social media and the comments that followed are enough to motivate the level of desire from adoring fans.
The Q8 premiers new design elements that we’ll be seeing more of on future Audi models, from a new and sharp-looking, eight-sided grille, slim headlights design, and frameless doors, to name a few. There are loads of strong contours that sculpt the Q8’s elegant but athletic stance and customers have a choice between twelve different colours – the new Dragon Orange colour option is exclusive to the Q8 and really enhances everything that already stands out on its bold exterior. Compared to its younger sibling, the Q7, the new Q8 is lower and shorter, but wider.
Inside, the Audi Q8 offers a cabin that I won’t be forgetting any time soon. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it might just be the most exciting and luxurious cabins I’ve had the pleasure of spending time in this year. It’s spacious (even for rear passengers), loaded with innovative technologies that keep you connected, safe and entertained, and it really does a good job at making you feel like you’ve settled into a luxury business lounge. Take me back! As standard you get an automated tailgate, and while we’re on the topic of its backend, boot space in the new Q8 is HUGE!
Being a luxury SUV you can expect to indulge in lush and next-level-comfortable seats, opulent design elements (such as ambient lighting that showcases the interior as standard,) and a high quality infotainment system that really is quite exquisite. When the infotainment system is turned off, the large integrated screen blanks out to look as though it is merely an extension of its glossy dashboard – you’ll need to check it out for yourself to really understand what we mean.
Below the main screen is another screen that controls things like climate, seat heating and cooling, and drive modes. It does mean that you tend to have to take your eyes off the road to adjust these settings, but thankfully there is also the option of voice commanding the Q8, or operating certain settings from the driver display ahead of you.
I love the new MMI touch response function that Audi has introduced into the new Q8! In a nutshell, its HAPTIC user interface makes the screen click and vibrate at a touch of a finger – much like most smartphones, showing you that it is responding to whatever it is you’re selecting. There’s something quite satisfying about this sort of engagement – especially if getting used to new technology tends to drive you up the wall!
Standard specification in the Audi Q8 is ample – you get what you pay (a lot) for. This includes 4-way lumber support for front seats, anti-theft wheel bolts and loose wheel warning, Audi virtual cockpit, Auto-dimming interior rear-view mirror – (there are about 50 more items on the list. Check them out here).
As far as optional extras go, Audi has simplified things by introducing specific packages – this is to avoid those complicated and extensive options lists – thanks, Audi! There are three S line packages available to local customers: the S line Black, S line Platinum and S line Sports Packages.
Despite its large dimensions the Q8 is really easy to drive and get used to. Steering is super light – you can just about turn it with two fingers (please don’t) – and turning through tricky corners or maneuvering in parking lots is effortless. For now, there is only a petrol derivative (TFSI) available that is equipped with a 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine that produces 250 kW of power and a whopping 500 N.m. of torque, but a 3.0-litre TDI engine variant is on its way! The air suspension makes driving over bumps in the road hardly noticeable, even if you’re riding on the optional 22-inch wheels. Once you’re up to speed on the highway, the Q8’s gearbox keeps gear-changes smoothes and gel-like with responsiveness and you also have the option of manually changing gears from the steering wheels paddle shifts.
The Audi Q8 TFSI consumes between 8.9 and 9.1-litres per 100 kilometers while the standard capacity of its fuel tank is 85 litres.
Pricing and Conclusion
The level of impression after a day spent with the new Q8 was high, and certainly worth the wait. Its beautiful exterior and interior design showcases some of the most refined and luxurious features we’ve seen this year, so there’s no doubt that this newcomer is a worthy contender in the premium SUV market. It does have its work cut out for it though, as South Africa sees the ‘buying down’ trend continue, however those who are still in the market for one of the best offerings in this segment are going to want to hop in for a test drive.
The Audi Q8 55 TFSI quattro tiptronic is priced at R1 388 000 standard with the 5 year/100 000km Audi Freeway plan and inclusive of all taxes.