Audi cranks up the all-electric Q8 to SQ8 e-tron and adds power and torque to make 496 hp and 719 lb-ft in a very practical, very versatile family hauler that'll make suburban life a genuine blast.
Problem is, prices start at $89,900 even before destination is added.
Available in sloping Sportback or squared-off SUV styles, the SQ8 is in showrooms now.
Say you have reached a point in life where responsibility outweighs good times, at least in your choice of vehicles. And say you have a spouse/significant other who demands that you “Quit messing around with those old foreign cars that never run.” And say you have a lot of money.
Get an Audi SQ8 e-tron. Tell the S.O. that the S in SQ8 stands for “Safety” and the Q is for “Quality.” Or some such acronyms. Then go drop all $89,900 on one of these and make everybody happy. Especially you, because the SQ8 e-tron is surprisingly fun to drive.
You wouldn’t necessarily think it would be given the fact that it seats seven full-size adults in comfort and has an interior so modular it’ll accept up to 56.4 cubic feet of cargo with the rear two rows of seats folded flat.
The Audi engineers took the entirely practical and useable Q8 and added 94 more hp and 228 more lb-ft of torque until the thing is downright brimming with crossover utility power—496 hp and 719 lb-ft.
Put that in a largish shape that weighs dang near 6000 pounds but spread out in a near-perfect 50/50 weight distribution, and it sure doesn’t feel like nearly three tons under way and you begin to see that life will, in fact, be worth living.
“The SQ8 e-tron provides improved acceleration, increased handling dynamics, and elevated traction capabilities thanks to its three-motor quattro drivetrain,” Audi boasts. “The new model expands enthusiast appeal for an SUV already engineered to set benchmarks in seamless electrified vehicle ownership; making it the fully electric SUV for the customer that enjoys taking the winding road to their destination.”
Now, normally, such hyperbole could be dismissed as marketing heroics. But I just spent a day slotting an SQ8 through all my favorite roads above Malibu and, while it doesn’t exactly turn-in like a two-door, in the sportier of its seven different drive modes it does elevate the humble and ubiquitous crossover into the realm of perceivable enjoyability.
The most impressive thing is the new car’s responsiveness, thanks to three electric motors, one in front and two in the rear. The outside rear motor spins with up to 162 lb-ft more torque than the inside rear when you’re going through a corner, taking advantage of the torque vectoring available in such drivetrain setups.
When you multiply that by the motor’s gearing, the figure jumps to 1550 lb-ft, Audi says. And around you go, much quicker than you would have expected.
Those 496 hp and 719 lb-ft also swat you from 0-60 mph in just 4.2 seconds, impressive by the standards of most crossovers today. It’ll stop with equal impression, thanks to six-piston (on a crossover!) fixed calipers in front clamping 15.7-inch steel rotors.
I just happened to have a regular Q8 e-tron the same week I drove the SQ8 and they’re like two different cars, especially when pressed. If you can, you should definitely get the SQ8.
On top of that performance, the SQ8 steps up the game of the already well-appointed Q8 by adding SQ trim pieces throughout, from the rocker panel accents and flared fenders to the unique appearance of the front and rear fascias. You can up that game with 22-inch wheels if you like, or just roll on the dubs that come standard.
Inside are 12-way adjustable power seats with S logos embossed right into the “Valcona” leather, as well as distinct and discreet carbon trim here and there. Two largish screens control Audi’s MMI system: a 10.1-inch above and 8.6-inch below, both with haptic feedback when you touch them.
There are many choices available to the crossover buyer, largely because the world seems to have gone nuts for crossovers. But the SQ8 e-tron Sportback and SUV are two you should definitely consider if your shopping list approaches six-figure territory.
Both models are available in showrooms now.
Is Audi on your shopping list for a luxury all-electric car or crossover? Please comment below.