Despite Its 6000 Pounds, 2024 Audi Q8 e-tron Handles Well on California Roads

2024 audi q8 etron
2024 Audi Q8 e-tron Stands as Brand’s EV FlagshipAudi
  • Same model dimensionally as the original e-tron but gets major technical upgrades.

  • Bigger, more efficient battery brings range up to 300 miles.

  • Redone steering and suspension boost driving dynamics.

Should we consider the Audi e-tron’s six model years an apprenticeship? On sale this month is the Q8 e-tron, which effectively replaces the e-tron and will become the flagship electric model in the expanding Audi EV lineup.

It and its sister model, the Sportback e-tron, reside on the same wheelbase as the original e-tron and have virtually the same dimensions inside and out as its predecessor. However, the technical meat of this electric SUV is wholly new and substantially upgraded from the earlier model.


Audi brought journalists to Northern California to put the upgrades to the test on winding roads traversing the redwood forests, wind-swept coast, and vineyards that make this area a prime location for new model launches. The upgraded suspension and quicker steering ratio of the Q8 acquitted itself well along the twists and turns of the Russian River and up Highway 1.

While Audi executives talked about enhanced handling and agility, they also made the point that this car is at its core a luxury SUV with a standard air suspension, not a sports sedan. The line between Audi and its sibling brand Porsche is clear.

Bigger, Better Battery

The past six years have seen some substantial improvements in battery technology, which the Q8 showcases. The new battery is 23% bigger than the e-tron’s original one (it’s now 114 kWh). Thanks to advances in cell technology and chemistry, the car can charge faster, going from 10% to 80% in about a half hour on a 170- kW DC fast charger.

The Q8 features two onboard charging systems (running at 40 or 80 amps). On a Level 2 charger it takes 13 or 6.5 hours to fully charge the Audi, depending on which system you have.

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2024 Audi Q8 e-tron Sportback in Daytona Gray Pearl.Audi

The most important piece of information for the consumer will be a range that tops out at 285-300 miles. Different tires, driving habits, temperature, and other factors all can affect real-world range, but that now gives the Q8 competitive numbers against a growing field of luxury SUV EVs.

Audi dug into both the batteries themselves and the electric motors residing in the front and rear axles. The former got more efficient while still fitting into the same sub-floorboard location as the e-tron’s battery. With a better “stacking” construction, a new set of protection panels, and a more efficient battery management system, the bedrock of this EV has moved up considerably. The two electric motors also were completely redone. Additional windings generate a strong magnetic field leading to more efficiency.

While they were retooling the battery and electric motors, engineers also beefed up the suspension and steering. A quicker steering ratio compared to the original was augmented by stiffer front control-arm bushings and revised tuning of the chassis control system. With some additional aid by driver-assistance technologies such as lane-keep assist, the road handling of the Q8 was deceptive for an almost 6000-pound car.

In the end those more powerful batteries feed two asynchronous electric motors (front and rear) that put out 402 peak horsepower and will take you from 0-60 mph in 5.4 seconds. It’s not blindingly fast, but we found no trouble passing slower vehicles on the short straightaways or accelerating through traffic on the freeway. We didn’t have the chance to hit the 124-mph top speed but have no doubt about the motors’ ability to reach it.

Purposeful Style

The car’s designers were given the task of creating a new look to go along with all the new hardware and software under the skin.

As Audi product planner Anthony Garbis said, the designers gave a “sense of width” to the Q8 by extending some lighting and brightwork and adding a new grille design with horizontal flair—even redoing the traditional Audi four-ring symbol.

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2024 Audi Q8 e-tron Sportback interior.Audi

Mixed in with the styling changes are some very practical aerodynamic updates, resulting in a 6% drag coefficient—a sizable number for a car that has no major dimensional changes.

Both the Q8 e-tron and Sportback e-tron now have a sub 0.30 Cd, aiding range. Wheels received new designs that were all about aero. Audi also added dynamic grille shutters and vents around the wheels to smooth out airflow.

The Value Proposition

The Q8 and Q8 Sportback EVs have four distinct trim lines, each with a fairly substantial list of options. The online configurator is already live, although we were told the inventory was just starting to build up.

The Q8 e-tron Premium will start at $74,400 while the Premium Plus and Prestige trims add $4400 and $10,400 to the base model. The Launch Edition will start at $87,550, with $1195 destination. Comparable Sportback models are priced about $3400 or more than the standard Q8 e-tron.

Meanwhile, the internal-combustion version of the Q8 starts at $72,800, and it isn’t clear how long it will stay in the lineup. But an Audi spokesman says there will be a next-generation combustion Q8, and it will have a different name.

That’s because, going forward, all Audi BEVs will have even-number names (hence Q8 and Q4 e-tron), while ICE models will have odd-number names (Q3, Q5, Q7, etc.).

Audi was a bit evasive in talking about the marketing role of the Q8 e-tron. It currently accounts for two-fifth of the current EV lineup.

2024 audi q8 etron
2024 Audi Q8 e-tron in Plasma Blue Metallic.Audi

But that will change as Audi plans to introduce 10 new EV models during the next two years. Some of those may be variants (like the much-anticipated performance SQ8 that’s due by the end of the year).

One of the key intros will be the midsize Q6, which will be built on Audi’s new EV platform. Starting in 2026 all new models will be electric as the company expects to see a complete turnover to electric technology by 2033.

For now, this full-size SUV flagship is seen as the aspirational vehicle for folks moving up from smaller Audi EVs or Audi faithful looking to move electric. The Q8 e-tron is probably a harbinger of things to come as EVs ascend to the mainstream, particularly in the luxury marketplace.

If you have been owning and driving internal-combustion Audis, are you ready for a transition to an e-tron EV? Or are you looking at other brands? Please comment below.