Home / Reviews / Audi Q8 55 TFSI quattro India Road Test Review

 

Audi’s flagship SUV makes quite a bold statement with its coupé-like styling and the numerous tech on offer. But will it be able to justify the price that goes through the roof?


DESIGN

We really wanted to take a good, long look at this beauty. So, after driving for a few hours, we parked it a little off the road to take a leisurely long look at the Q8. And we realized that Audi’s flagship SUV is quite a stunner. I’m no big fan of crossover coupé styling and their steep dropping roof-line, but I have to admit, this one looks robust and the sloping roof isn’t as exaggerated as in some other models. To be honest, this looks a lot prettier to my eye than the Bentley Bentayga which also ride on the same VW Group platform.
The overall design is really appealing. In an age when the headlights are becoming narrower and the front grille larger to accommodate all the sensors and cameras, the Audi has managed to balance the proportions well. This is the new SUV family design which will soon be seen on future Audi models. The signature octagonal grille is more pronounced now and has a thick frame, giving it a three-dimensional appearance.
What will catch your eye are the all-new LED Matrix headlamps and beautiful tail-lamps which can easily blend in a sci-fi movie scene. And the sloping roof-line of the Q8 is a tribute to the original Quattro rally car.
During the Indian launch, Balbir Singh Dhillon, Head of Audi India, revealed that every single Q8 imported into India would be unique because of the huge customization options being offered. There are 54 exterior colour options, 11 interior trims, and nine wooden inlays to choose from. Our test car ran on 21-inch wheels, although the standard size is 20 inches and, if you like, you can even opt for the larger 22-inch ones.

CABIN AND INTERIOR
This is a pretty large car and a complete show-stopper. It’s a five-seater and yet is just 66 millimetres shorter than the three-row Q7. The cabin is even more stunning than the exterior. Its layout follows the new brand theme and has all the hallmarks of an Audi. It gets the dual screen MMI touchscreen at the centre and it blends seamlessly with the high-gloss dashboard. The a-c vents are beautifully disguised under the horizontal lines that run the width of the dashboard. Hand-picked material, including premium looking wood accents, complete the cabin’s delectable design.
The front seats are among the best in the business. You can adjust the side bolstering and lower-back support accurately and create a perfect driving seat. And there’s good all-round visibility too. Thankfully, this coupé doesn’t have a small glass at the back, so one can actually see what’s behind one in the rear-view mirror. Comfort isn’t compromised on the rear seats either as, with my average Indian height, there still was plenty of head-room to spare. Since there isn’t a third row, there is more than sufficient knee-room. In fact, I really had a hard time looking for restrictions that the sloping roofline might have induced. The back seats aren’t as comfy as the ones in front and could do with some more cushioning. However, there’s a very impressive 605-litre boot space that has enough room for all your luggage.
(Also Read: BMW X6 v Audi Q8 v Porsche Cayenne Coupe)


FEATURES
The fancy dashboard gets not one but two screens, a larger 10.1-inch stacked on top of an 8.6-inch display. These aren’t ordinary touchscreens; they have smartphone-like haptic feedback which responds to every touch with a “click” sound and a light buzz. While the one on top has the usual controls such as the infotainment system, navigation, phone, and a few of the car’s settings, the other screen is used to manage the air-conditioning and hides other functions such as the start-stop system and the seat functions. There aren’t any dials and I didn’t miss those because the layout is straightforward and pretty intuitive. If two screens weren’t enough, the driver gets the much applauded 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit colour screen. Apart from the usual data, it can be customized to pull information from the 10.1-inch screen too, so that everything is available at a quick glance.

ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE
In terms of cabin opulence and luxury, the Q8 does live up to the high standards created by the brand’s flagship sedan, the A8. This raises another question: can it match the performance of Audi’s other flagship, the R8? Honestly, it’s a tall order for a big and heavy crossover, but, maybe, the sportier SQ8 can when it comes to India sometime in the future. Currently, the Q8 is only available in the 55 TFSI quattro version which is propelled by a 3.0-litre petrol engine. Paired to an intuitive eight-speed automatic transmission from ZF, this V6 churns out 340 hp and 500 Nm of peak torque.
When put to the test, we managed a decent 7.1 seconds for the 0-100 km/h performance, which isn’t bad considering the size, shape, and weight of the car. Those who have got a taste of the Audi V6 diesel will miss that meaty mid-range in this petrol-powered SUV, though.
The frameless windows do a surprisingly good job of keeping the wind noise out even when you hit three-digit speeds. Keep the accelerator floored and the Q8 hits double ton on the speedo and even maintains it with ease. Obviously, this is anything but slow but the power delivery won’t make the hairs on your neck stand. The performance is brisk but isn’t what I would call thrilling. That’s an emotion the R8 entices.
The Q8 feels a lot better when treated like a luxury tourer without leaning heavily on the throttle. That’s the reason it feels more at home when in Comfort than in Dynamic. This makes the eight-speed toggle through the gears seamlessly with hardly any shift movement felt in the cabin. The exhaust note isn’t sporty; in fact, it is rather muted, but with the super refined engine and exceptionally linear power delivery, the cabin feels like Zen.

RIDE AND HANDLING
Much of this feeling is also due to the sublime ride quality. With 21-inch wheels and big, heavy tyres, you’d expect it to thud through potholes and ditches. On the contrary, this large crossover-coupé will surprise you in the way it tiptoes over broken roads. Assisting the adaptive air suspension are a set of well-specced tyres for India that absorb most of the undulations really well. And then you have the option of raising the ground clearance so that you can practically go over all sorts of hurdles.
On the handling front, the Audi doesn’t disappoint either. And there are quite a few reasons for that. Firstly, the air suspension does a swell job of limiting the body movement which becomes even better when you engage the Dynamic mode, while the rear-biased all-wheel drive (quattro) ensures that there’s ample traction no matter how hard the turn. And the optional rear-wheel steering further helps in tightening the turns and, most importantly, never lets the driver feel the bulk of this five-metre-long SUV. The steering, though immensely accurate, doesn’t have oodles of feel that you would expect from a sporty SUV. At the end of it, the Q8 falls in the elite club of large SUVs which balance ride and handling efficiently.
(Also Read: 2020 BMW X6 Luxury SUV Now Available in India)

CONCLUSION
Audi India are getting a limited number of the Q8, which is imported via the CBU route. And that’s one of the reasons why its costs a monumental Rs 1.33 crore. That’s ex-showroom, without any add-ons, and that’s the price many would willingly pay for exclusivity of which the Audi definitely provides an awful lot. This makes it a genuinely compelling crossover coupé you need to consider if you’re looking for one.

 

About the author: Sarmad Kadiri

 

 

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