Luxury and prestige have their price, and for Audi’s largest SUV, the Q8, that starts at $68,395.
Luckily that includes delivery charges, and to be honest, quite a lot else. Think of this as the SUV version of Audi’s fancy pants A8 sedan, which as a top-line model you’d expect to be loaded.
The Q8 is a five-person luxury hauler with oodles of head and legroom front and rear, plus a sizeable cargo area in back. This also is sleek looking (for an SUV), giving it some personality, which again, you’d expect for this price.
My tester was a Daytona gray pearl effect Premium model, which is to say it’s the entry-level Q8 and it was a sparkly dark gray. Not happy to be just that, it added another $12,000 in options, but more on that in a bit.
First, this one was luxury quiet, extremely so. I think I could actually hear folks thinking in the back seat. Certainly conversations are easy in the Q8 as you discuss which European vacation you plan to take next summer. If it includes Bratislava, Slovakia, you could watch workers assemble a Q8.
The Audi’s power is strong and smoothly delivered via a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 and an 8-speed Tiptronic automatic suspension. The V6 boasts 335 horsepower and a torque rating of 369. The only time I witnessed any turbo lag was when coming out of turns and tromping the gas pedal hard to head to highway speeds. Then there was a slight hiccup.
But you’ve got five drive modes to choose from, and Dynamic helped cut that power lag as it insists on more aggressive shifts and pumps up the oomph factor from the V6. Other modes range from Comfort, which softens the ride and steering effort, to Individual, Offroad and Automatic.
Yes, you could take this off road as Audi’s quattro system gives the Q8 off-road cred as it can shift power to any of the four wheels if its computer suspects slippage at some wheel. Normally it sends 60% of power to the rear wheels and 40% to the front.
Traction is no worry and handling is good too, even on twisty roads and highways. Steering effort is moderately firm, certainly more in dynamic mode, but easier in Comfort.
Ride likewise is beautifully controlled and softened at just the right time when bounding over crumbling Midwest roads. I drove to downtown Chicago in this one and even the Windy City’s choppy streets didn’t ruffle my passengers.
Note too that the Q8 has a 48-volt mild hybrid system designed to smooth the power surge between on and off in the start/stop system that supposedly saves fuel. It was fine, but you still notice the on/off and with my highway miles to Chicago and back I got 21 miles per gallon, not bad for a 5,004-lb. vehicle with four folks aboard. The EPA rates this 17 mpg city and 22 mpg highway and the Audi prefers premium fuel.
Inside, the Q8 delivers on its luxury promise, with soft black leather and gray ash wood trim. For looks, its gloss black console, stack and dash face look ritzy, but reflect the sun quite a bit on sunny days. Satin chrome trim on air ducts, knobs and door handles completes the somewhat jeweled interior.
Gone is any oddball radio and info tuning knob on the console. Audi now features two soft-touch screens for infotainment/radio/climate controls/Google navigation. The good news, this is all easy to understand, the bad news is that like some other luxury makes touchscreens, both are touchy. By that I mean that you must press the screens firmly, not just tap them (like a cell phone) to move a setting or access a radio station. The dual temperature gauges also can be adjusted higher or lower by sliding a finger on the screen, but that tended to bump the temp up or down by 4-8 degrees, so slight adjustments take solid screen presses.
Other interior pluses include a power tilt/telescope steering wheel, panoramic sunroof and shade, and power seats and lumbar support. Seats also are soft and comfortable and just mildly contoured. Front seats are heated and cooled (the cooling part of a $4,000 option package). A $600 cold weather package heated the rear seats and steering wheel too. Note that the rear seat back also splits to fold down in a 40/20/40 pattern, so it’s possible to carry two riders in back while still folding down part of the seat to haul long cargo.
The option packages here also included that fancy stereo, a $100 upcharge for a CD/DVD player, illuminated door sills, 4-zone climate control, and giant 22-inch wheels and tires that made this look like a butt-kicking beast.
Safety add-ons included adaptive cruise control, active lane assist, traffic sign recognition, top-view (360 degrees) camera, Audi side and rear cross-traffic assist and a system that warns you it’s not safe to open a door. For instance you’ve parked at a curb and start to open a driver’s side door as traffic approaches.
Standard are the usual backup camera, blind-spot warning and pre-sense system that brakes at city speeds if it suspects a vehicle stopped in your path. That should save a few visits to the auto body shop.
Are there a few things to whine about? Sure, no matter the price there are things I’d do differently. First, the A and B pillars are huge here, so side views are sometimes compromised. That’s why it’s good you have all these safety devices. That, and the wireless phone charger (glad there is one) is stuffed inside the big multi-level armrest between the front seats. So you have to open the armrest to find it. Luckily, the car is smart enough to tell you “your mobile device is still in the car,” so you likely won’t forget it once you turn off the ignition.
And a few pluses I haven’t gotten to yet. One, the Audi Q8 will tow quite a bit with a tow rating of 7,700 lbs. There’s also a power hatch in back, although it’s quite a reach to press the down button once it’s fully opened. At least it’s tough for us vertically challenged folks.
The final price tag for the optioned-up Q8 was $79,340, a premium price to be sure. But there are two higher cost models, the Premium Plus and Prestige, the latter of which can hit nearly $100 grand when fully quipped, but starts at $77,545.
There’s no doubt the Q8 is a high-end luxury ride for five. It looks the part and delivers on ride comfort, handling and power. The question is at what price you can afford such luxury.
FAST STATS: 2019 Audi Q8 quattro
Hits: Luxuriously quiet, with good power, handling and ride, plus AWD. Giant sunroof, power tilt/telescope wheel, power hatch, five drive modes, luxury feel interior, super stereo, loaded with safety devices.
Misses: Engine hesitates when given gas suddenly, big A & B pillars, gloss black console/stack/dash reflects sun, odd phone charger placement, touchy screen controls for radio/climate adjustments.
Made in: Bratislava, Slovakia
Engine: 3.0-liter, turbocharged V6, 335 horsepower
Transmission: 8-speed Tiptronic automatic
Weight: 5,004 lbs.
Length: 196.3 in.
Wheelbase: 117.9 in.
Tow: 7,700 lbs.
MPG: 21.0 (tested)
Base Price: $68,395 (includes delivery)
Daytona gray pearl effect, $595
Premium Plus package (21-inch 5-spoke D design wheels/tires, Bang & Olufsen premium 3D sound system, illuminated door sills, interior lighting package, 4-zone climate controls, top view camera system, ventilated front seats, 4-way power lumbar, highbeam assist, wireless phone charging and antenna, Audi side assist/rear cross-traffic, vehicle exit warning, Audi pre sense rear, heated auto. dimming power fold side mirrors w/memory), $4,000
Driver assistance package (adaptive cruise w/Traffic Jam assist, traffic sign recognition, intersection assist, Audi active lane assist/emergency assist), $2,750
Year One package (22-inch five V-spoke star wheels in anthracite, all-season tires, black roof rails, red calipers), $2,250
Towing package, $650
Cold weather package (heated steering wheel and rear seats), $600
CD/DVD player, $100
Test vehicle: $79,340
Sources: Audi, kbb.com
Photos: Mark Savage