From afar, I first thought the Audi Q8 was a Q3. I know there’s a huge size disparity between the two vehicles, but the steeply raked rear window, thick C-Pillar and higher beltline make this largest SUV in the Audi lineup resemble the smallest more closely than those in the middle.
However, though it looks much smaller than it is, it doesn’t drive that way.
I really liked the Audi Q8, which is all-new for the 2019 model year, and if you’re a suburban driver with minimal urban commuting, I’d say this is a very nice luxury car that is fully worth the expense.
I’m a sucker for gimmicks, thus it should be no surprise I’m completely enamored with the Virtual Cockpit, which is standard on the Audi Q8. This is the configurable display that contains the behind-the-wheel gauges. I love the beautiful digital display with the ability to make the four-color map span the entire swath of screen.
It’s high-tech and, in my opinion, visually appealing.
The new Multi Media Interface (MMI), which is another visual delight, is also a huge win in the Q8. Audi finally ditched the fractious rotary dial in favor of an attractive dual-screen environment that not only physically works but also blends with the overall interior design.
This is one of two dual screen environments I’ve seen in new vehicles that actually looks good. The other is in Jaguar Land Rover vehicles.
Audi is also only one of a few automakers currently offering wireless Apple CarPlay, which I’ve come to fully appreciate.
Another pleasant point is the engine power in the Q8. It’s equipped with a 3.0-liter V-6 engine , which provides smooth and seamless power. I never worried about merging with traffic or passing, though I do have to admit I could definitely feel the 5,004-pound weight when trying to make more aggressive driving maneuvers.
Ride and handling on the Q8 is more luxurious than sporty, which I found somewhat surprising since I tend to expect more sport than luxury from Audi. But, I will say the fact that the suspension wasn’t super stiff made traversing Chicago potholes a much more pleasant experience.
While I appreciated the comfortable ride, this is also a bit of a miss because even when I switched into the “Dynamic” driving mode, it didn’t make the Audi Q8 feel much sportier.
And in terms of handling, the size is very deceiving. In addition to the heft you feel when accelerating, the Q8 is really long, and that makes it difficult for some tight city spaces. The turning radius isn’t tight, and I found driving maneuvers that usually only take a couple turns of the wheel — like backing into my garage — had me using a little more effort and a lot more turns.
Also, just as wireless Apple CarPlay is a hit, it’s a bit of a miss as well. The system works great and looks great, but if you use navigation through Waze or Apple Maps, that beautiful Virtual Cockpit map disappears and is replaced by an ugly image of a compass.
Oh, and at this time, if you’re an Android user, wireless Auto isn’t available.
While the starting price for the Audi Q8 kisses $70K, there’s a lot of good stuff included in that price, and as you level up, you get more goodies. The fact that the top trim is only $9K more than the base trim is also a win in my book.
Premium ($69,195): includes 20-inch wheels, navigation, Audi’s new MMI, Virtual Cockpit, panoramic roof, and front-and-rear parking sensors.
Premium Plus ($73,195): adds 21-inch wheels, Bang & Olufsen 3D Premium Surround Sound, Convenience Package, ambient lighting and a top-view camera with a 360-degree view.
Prestige ($78,695): adds HD Matrix-design LED headlights, LED taillights, head-up display, Driver Assistance Package, leather dashboard with contrast stitching and aluminum-optic touch-sensitive buttons.
The Chicago Factor
As an SUV on the large side of the spectrum, I really like the Audi Q8. It has nice available rear-seat amenities, plenty of cargo volume and a handsome, tech-forward interior design. The finishing touches are attractive and well-done, and the ride and handling is comfortable if not exactly sporty.
It’s a great suburban vehicle with the occasional jaunt to the city. But if you live in the city and drive in the city a lot, you’ll definitely want to do an extended test drive to see how it fits into your personal spaces.
I was lucky enough that I didn’t have anyone parking in the garage space next to me during the test week, so I had space for my trial and error parking. Plus the front-and-rear parking sensors made sure I didn’t do anything stupid.
|Engine: 3.0L TFSI, 6-cyl
Torque: 369 lb-ft
Fuel economy (combined): 18 mpg
Height: 67.2 inches
Width: 86.2 inches
Length: 196.6 inches
Wheelbase: 117.9 inches
Seating capacity: 5
Cargo capacity (behind rear seats): 30.5 cu-ft
Base price: $69,195
Price as tested: $79,340