Displaying items by tag: Audi
The revised Audi Q5 40 TDI SUV delivers plenty of tech and surprising value
The revised Audi Q5 offers useful updates when it comes to efficiency, performance and on-board technology. It still looks stylish inside and out, it’s well built and although it’s a bit dull to drive, it’s comfortable, refined and practical. The real surprise here in the most basic Sport trim is that it delivers impressive value for money, with a generous amount of standard kit.
Think premium SUV, and the chances are that you’ll think of the Audi Q5. From the way it drives to the way it’s built and how it looks, the Q5 has always been a solid choice. But the pace of development in this class is fast, so there’s a new version of the German firm’s mid-size SUV.
The updates focus heavily on technology to keep pace with newer models in the class, as well as revisions to the 40 TDI diesel model we’re testing here, making it cleaner and more powerful, thanks in part to mild-hybrid electrification.
The level of standard kit has taken a step forward as well, so even this entry-level Sport model could offer everything you’ll realistically need, even if on its standard 18-inch wheels it doesn’t look quite as sharp or as aggressive as the sportier S line trim that sits above it. Sport still receives new LED headlights and the same overall visual updates, with a larger, more pronounced grille that features some silver vertical bars to help it stand out. There’s a different design for the front bumper, too, while at the rear the changes are less significant. It’s a subtle but effective facelift overall.
The SUV has also received the same treatment inside as its A4 and A5 siblings, with a new 10.1-inch central touchscreen as part of the MMI Nav Plus system that replaces the older scroll wheel on the transmission tunnel. There’s now a slightly awkward, rather shallow storage tray in its place, but build and material quality is still as good as you’d expect from an Audi, while the updated tech is sound. It works with the level of speed and response to your inputs you’d expect from a premium model, while there are lots of features, too.
There’s no real reason not to get on with the native system because the menus are fairly logical and easy to navigate, plus the graphics are great and the screen is well positioned in your eyeline (if maybe just a tiny bit too far away from the driver). But Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also fitted as standard, so you can plug in your smartphone instead if you want.
On top of this you also get heated sports seats in Audi’s twin leather upholstery, three-zone climate control, cruise control, front and rear parking sensors with a reversing camera, and autonomous emergency braking with collision warning and pedestrian detection.
The Q5 inherits its predecessor’s full five-star Euro NCAP crash safety rating, which is an important feature for a family SUV like this.
Practicality is also key, and with a 550-litre boot – expanding to 1,520 litres with the useful 40:20:40 split rear seat bench folded down – there’s plenty of luggage room in the Audi. You even get a powered tailgate as standard to boost the level of flexibility on offer.
It’s not the biggest load bay in its class, but the Q5’s boot is far from cramped, and the same goes for the interior. You sit up high, as you’d expect in an SUV, and that’s possible because the seat base isn’t the longest, which brings your legs closer back towards you with a greater bend in your knees. But the Q5 offers plenty of legroom and doesn’t struggle for headroom either.
Practicality is pretty much unchanged then, and it’s a similar story when it comes to how the Q5 drives. That’s because it’s still based on the VW Group’s MLB Evo platform, with multi-link suspension all round.
Nestled under the bonnet of our test car is Audi’s updated 2.0-litre 40 TDI diesel, which produces 201bhp and a respectable 400Nm of torque. That’s 14bhp up on its predecessor thanks, in part, to the addition of a new 12-volt mild-hybrid system, which sees a belt-driven starter-generator (BSG) deliver a small hit of power and torque to assist when pulling away.
However, the mild-hybrid system has had a bigger impact on efficiency. The BSG charges a small lithium-ion battery when slowing down, which can be used to power ancillaries such as the climate control and electric power steering. In addition, the 2.0 TDI unit can cut out and coast at speeds of up to 99mph when you’re in the right driving mode, while the stop-start system activates below 13mph. It also makes things smoother when the engine does restart.
Claimed economy stands at 44.8mpg with 165g/km CO2 emissions, but while Audi is doing its best to make diesel less of a dirty word, it still feels like that in the current climate, the plug-in hybrid TFSI e will be a better bet for drivers seeking big efficiency and lower running costs.
Performance is strong, though, with some weight saving on engine components and the extra grunt delivering a 7.6-second 0-62mph time. In reality, nobody ever stretches their car’s performance to this degree all that regularly, but in conjunction with the seven-speed dual-clutch S tronic gearbox, the 400Nm of torque means it doesn’t kick down too many gears all that often when you want a more than moderate burst of acceleration.
Even if it does, the changes are pretty smooth – not whip-crack fast but well slurred to keep things relaxed – and the TDI unit’s sound is suppressed well enough that while it’s audible, it’s far from intrusive.
There’s little road noise too, helped by this car’s smaller wheels. They do look a little lost next to the big body, but they also improve the car’s ride quality.
The Q5 isn’t quite the most comfortable car in this class, but it rolls over ripples and imperfections in the road surface without too much fuss or transmitting a great level of shock or body movement, so it’s a smooth cruiser.
It isn’t the most dynamic option, though. The steering isn’t quite as direct as we’d like, even for an SUV (those big tyre sidewalls probably don’t help matters), while there’s some roll. But the Q5 is dynamically tidy enough to suffice; it’s comfort that matters more in a car like this, which it delivers, but the Audi is a bit dull when it comes to any sense of engagement.
The Audi Q5 55 TFSI e plug-in hybrid SUV strikes a compelling balance of performance and fuel efficiency within the updated Q5 lineup.
That many of today's plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) are both the most powerful and fuel-efficient examples within their respective model ranges says a lot about the progress of vehicle electrification. For example, Audi's updated 2021 Q5 SUV lineup, where the new PHEV variant, the Q5 55 TFSI e, packs the largest power figure, and its balance of performance, fuel efficiency, and luxury place it in a compelling spot in the lineup. Although the sportiest variant remains the SQ5—but only just.
Starting at $52,995, the PHEV version of Audi's compact luxury crossover slots between the regular $44,395 Q5 45 TFSI and the performance-oriented $53,995 SQ5. Regardless of the powertrain, all 2021 Q5s receive more angular styling for their headlights and front and rear bumpers, as well as an updated grille that's more cohesive with the brand's newer models. The net effect ties the Q5's design elements together better than before, lending it a fresh but not overly aggressive aura when parked at the curb.
Audi introduced the plug-in Q5 last year, which combines a 248-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four with the hybrid's 141-hp electric motor for a peak output of 362 horses and 369 pound-feet of torque. With a standard seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and Quattro all-wheel drive, Audi says the Q5 PHEV should reach 60 mph in a fleet 5.0 seconds—only 0.3 second slower than the SQ5 with its 349-hp turbo 3.0-liter V-6.
Even with the added 550 pounds of mass of the hybrid's battery and motor, the Q5 55 TFSI e is quick for its segment. It won't rearrange your internal organs when you stomp on the accelerator, but it will remind you that instant electric torque is a wonderful thing when used correctly. The Q5 PHEV feels just as at home on the open road as it does around town. Its ride is steady and polished even when the pavement is anything but, and it corners adroitly for its size. But as with most electrified vehicles, you'll notice its extra weight as the dynamic loads increase.
The PHEV's lithium-ion battery with 11.3 kWh of usable energy nets a 19-mile EPA rating for electric driving. If that seems modest, it's even more so than it needed to be, as Audi voluntarily lowered its label value from the 29-mile figure the Q5 earned during EPA testing. While in electric mode, the Q5's already quiet interior becomes noticeably more serene. The battery can be recharged in as little as 2.4 hours via a 240-volt Level 2 charging station, according to Audi, but takes considerably longer if you plug it into a conventional 120-volt wall socket. Compared with the standard Q5's EPA estimate of 25 mpg combined, the PHEV earns a 27-mpg rating after the battery's been depleted and 50 MPGe with it in the mix.
Inside, the Q5's cabin continues to exhibit the exemplary build quality we've come to expect from Audi. The updated MIB 3 infotainment system behind the standard 10.1-inch touchscreen is high tech and nicely integrated. But we did notice some latency in its responses to commands, and we're still acclimating to not having the previous MMI setup's rotary control knob. Wireless Apple CarPlay is now available, but Android Auto connectivity requires the use of a cord. Higher trims add Audi's excellent 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit digital gauge display and its ability to sharply render full-width map data. Our main disappointment in the example we drove was the standard eight-way power-adjustable front seats, which we struggled to find a comfortable position in during longer stints behind the wheel.
The Q5 55 TFSI e is available with Audi's typical Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige option packages, with the latter pushing the plug-in's price to $62,795 with heated and ventilated seats, a head-up display with traffic-sign recognition, and a premium Bang & Olufsen stereo. Audi points out that federal and local tax credits have the potential to significantly lower the PHEV's entry point, limiting its upcharge over the standard Q5 and making the SQ5 a considerably more expensive proposition. For Q5 shoppers who can make use of its electric range, the plug-in's solid performance and luxury trappings could strike a just-right balance.
The Audi Q3 is an upmarket compact SUV that delivers owners loads of high-tech features and lots of cabin space. It’s not that enjoyable to drive, however
The Audi Q3 is a spacious and stylish family SUV with a great interior and lots of hi-tech features. It’s an alternative to the BMW X1 and Volvo XC40 and sits between the Q2 and Q5 in the enormous range of SUVs available in Audi’s line-up.
That line-up can be a bit like watching Eastenders and trying to decide which Mitchell brother is on the screen – they do look very similar. That’s good in some cases and bad in others, depending on the price they’re charging. The Q3 is, thankfully, in the sweet spot.
The Audi Q3’s grille looks like a smaller version of the Q8’s, for example, while the exterior design is similar to the Q5’s, but smaller. This kind of Russian-doll styling is common in a lot of car manufacturers, so we can’t hold too much of a grudge.
All Audi Q3s get a set of digital dials with sat-nav functionality and more, which is great to see – and the standard infotainment screen is sharp and easy to use. The Q3 scores highly for tech, as it feels like a more expensive model in that regard.
It’s a similar story when it comes to upholstery and interior materials, as the Q3 is well-built, looks smart and has some customisation options including an Alcantara trim that looks and feels great.
It has a typically high-up SUV driving position with plenty of adjustment, which means you can get comfortable quite easily. Plus there’s lots of room in the front seats and no headroom issues at all.
There’s no doubt the Audi Q3 has been inspired by the vast Q8 SUV – that giant grille, for example, makes it look just like a toddler that’s trying on its Grandparent’s dentures
Mat Watson, carwow expert
Plus, in the rear seats the Q3 has more room than you’ll find in many other cars of this size, and you can slide the rear seats forwards and backwards to prioritise either passenger legroom or boot space.
Impressively, even with the back seats in their most rearward position, there’s more space in the boot than you get in a BMW X1. With them set forward, the boot is really big and practical. Fold the back seats down and there’s easily enough room to carry a bicycle.
There are a few engines to choose from, starting with a 150hp petrol engine in the 35 TFSI model going right up to a 233hp petrol in the 45 TFSI, with 150hp and 190hp diesels in the mix as well. The entry point makes the most sense for most people as it’s better value for money.
A seven-speed automatic is available, but as it’s a bit slow to respond when you put your foot down, the manual model is absolutely fine. Some models have four-wheel drive (Audi calls it quattro) for extra grip, but it’s not necessary and adds to the cost.
Though the Audi Q3 is comfortable and composed, it’s more suited to motorways than country roads. It has a slightly stiff edge to the ride in versions with larger wheels and stiffer sports suspension, but at higher speeds, it’s smooth enough.
Light steering means it’s easy to drive, but it’s not particularly fun – a BMW X1 or Mini Countryman is a better choice for those who love driving. You get plenty of active safety kit as standard, but you’ll have to pay extra for adaptive cruise control.
The Audi Q3 is a great all-around family SUV, with strengths in the key areas buyers of these cars want. It’s spacious and has a great interior with loads of tech included, even if it’s on the expensive side. Still, you should be able to find a good deal by heading over to our deals page.
How practical is it?
The Audi Q3 might be a fairly compact SUV, but there’s loads of space inside for tall adults – the only real criticism is that there’s a large lump in the floor that cuts into a middle passenger’s foot space.
Audi Q3 interior
The Audi Q3’s interior looks far more futuristic than in most small SUVs. It gets lots of kit as standard, too, but the most eye-catching trims and colours are reserved for top-spec cars.
The Audi Q3’s interior looks very similar to what you find in the range-topping Q8 SUV. There’s a large ring of metal-effect plastic on the dashboard that’s supposed to mimic the shape of the Audi Q3’s grille and a vast slab of glossy black plastic that sits flush with the central touchscreen.
You also get a second digital display in front the steering in place of conventional dials but, unlike in the Q8, the Q3 comes with intuitive physical knobs and dials for the climate control instead of a third (and rather fiddly) touchscreen.
As standard, the Audi Q3 comes with a fairly staid selection of black, grey and silver interior trims – all of which feel suitably soft and sturdy. Under the cool hook-shaped door handles you’ll find a few hard brittle surfaces, but these are tucked down far enough that you won’t notice unless you reach down to adjust your seat. On the subject of seats, pick a sporty S-Line model and you get upgraded front seats with more supportive padding and electric adjustment.
You can spruce up the Audi Q3’s interior with 30-colour mood lighting or upgrade the dashboard trims with some embossed aluminium or unvarnished wood. Go for a top-spec Edition One model and you can also get the dashboard, doors and seat edges trimmed in suede-like Alcantara in a range of colours.
Every Audi Q3 comes with a dual-screen infotainment system consisting of a 10.1-inch central touchscreen and a second 10.25-inch Virtual Cockpit digital instrument display as standard. Through these, you’ll access all of the Audi Q3’s onboard features – besides the climate control which is operated using a simple row of buttons by the gear lever.
The central display – which fits almost seamlessly into the Q3’s glossy black dashboard trim – is bright and easy to read, even in direct sunlight. It responds quickly to your inputs and all the menus are simply and logically laid out. You don’t get a physical scroll wheel like in a BMW X1, however, so flicking through settings while you’re driving isn’t quite so easy.
That being said, you can access plenty of the system’s features through the digital driver’s display instead, using handy buttons on the steering wheel. These let you customise the dial graphics, change the radio station or view upcoming sat-nav directions.
It’s easy to input an address into the Audi Q3’s standard navigation system using the on-screen keyboard and it gives clear and concise directions. The 3D google maps feature is a nice touch, too – allowing you to see whether there’s a particularly nasty hill approaching over the horizon. But, it can be difficult to read place names on particularly dark sections of the map.
It’s even easier to follow directions if you upgrade the standard 10.25-inch digital driver’s display to a 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit system. This allows you to minimise the digital dials in favour of a huge widescreen map instead.
Unlike in the BMW X1, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come as standard so you can use your phone’s navigation apps through the Q3’s built-in screens if you aren’t a fan of Audi’s own system. These features also let you play music from your phone through the Audi Q3’s stereo without resorting to using a Bluetooth connection.
You’ll want to upgrade to the optional Bang & Olufsen stereo – even if you’re only a casual listener. This optional 15-speaker unit sounds absolutely fantastic and it’s easily loud enough to drown out any comments your passengers might have about your music tastes.
Audi has updated the style and available technology of its SQ2 crossover, which should be available in early 2021, as pre-sales have already started in Germany and other European countries.
The price of the Audi SQ2 for 2021 starts at 45,700 euros in Germany, while buyers from Great Britain will have to spend 38,700 pounds. Neither SQ2 nor Q2 are available in North America.
The 2.0 TFSI engine is the same as before, generating 300 hp and 400 Nm of torque with a standard seven-speed S tronic transmission and quattro all-wheel drive. The SQ2 accelerates to 100 km / h in just 4.9 seconds, while its maximum acceleration is limited to 250 km / h.
The redesigned look is immediately visible as soon as you take a look at the car. The octagonal Singleframe grille is now slightly lower, and the bumpers and air intakes have been redesigned and more aggressive. Although LED headlights are available as standard, Audi will now offer new Matrix LED units as optional accessories. The SQ2 also comes with LED rear lights, paired with dynamic indicators.
On the sides, the redesigned SQ2 features aluminum-looking mirror housings, aluminum sill inserts and a spoiler on the roof edge.
As for the interior, the 2021 SQ2 has automatic air conditioning as standard, along with a sporty multi-purpose steering wheel and sports seats. As for the information and entertainment program technology, it has been maximally improved and refreshed with the latest programs and maps.
Finally, Audi also left up advanced safety systems. The SQ2 not only comes standard with Audi's pre-designed front safety system, but also adaptive cruise control, which is a new addition to the optional equipment. Adaptive driving assistance allows the driver to relinquish control of the car during acceleration, deceleration and steering.
Audi's best-selling model is the Q5 SUV. It was thoroughly redesigned in July, so that in September we could see its first ever "sportback" version. However, in Eastern Europe, a diesel with the prefix "S" was the most awaited. And not because of the purchase, but mostly because of mere enthusiasm. Well, here are the sweet numbers: 3.0, V6 TDI, 350 hp and 700 Nm; from 0-100 km / h in 5.1 seconds. But here are a few bitters: the starting price is almost 70,000 euros.
In addition to the powerful engine, the new "SQ5" got a more sporty look compared to the standard model: the front has a large octagonal grille and larger air intakes. And this version, at an additional cost, can be equipped with new OLED headlights and taillights.
These are digital diodes arranged in three parts, with six segments each, the display of which can be personalized, changed depending on the driving mode, and also reacts to dangerous traffic situations. By the way, LED matrix headlights come with the "SQ5" as standard.
At the rear, the changes are slight, while the four oval ends of the exhaust pipes stand out the most.
The cabin can be black, gray or red. The new Napa leather sports seats are adorned with the “S” logo, and also offer a massage option. The premium cab is enriched with brushed aluminum trim, while the top-of-the-line "SQ5 Vorsprung" offers carbon details.
A novelty is the latest generation of MMI infotainment system (MIB3), which is displayed on a 10.1-inch screen. In front of the driver is a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel (Virtual Cockpit), and there is a "head-up" display. The functions in the vehicle are controlled in three ways: with the buttons on the steering wheel, via the touch screen or by voice.
As in the standard "Q5", there is plenty of space in the rear, and the practicality is emphasized by the option of moving the seat of the rear bench back and forth, while the backrests can be adjusted. The trunk has 520-1,520 liters.
As for the engine, it is a lighter and more efficient V6 TDI engine, with a volume of three liters, which uses advanced 48-volt mild hybrid technology.
Power is 350 hp, while 700 Nm of torque is now available at lower revs, between 1,750 and 3,250 rpm.
This 4.7-meter-long SUV reaches the "cattle" in just 5.1 seconds, while the top speed is 250 km / h.
As before, the "SQ5" is 30 mm lower than standard and is equipped with sports suspension, as well as six different driving modes: Auto, Comfort, Efficiency, Dynamic, Off-road and Individual. With the "Vorsprung" version comes a sports differential on the rear axle.
The starting price for the "SQ5" in Germany is 68,138 euros.
Audi's new RS6 Avant wagon is even more special than its 591-hp twin-turbo V-8 and 3.1-second 60-mph time implies.
Ever hear of left-digit bias? It's the reason ShamWows cost $19.95 instead of $20 and why people say they're 39 instead of 40. We focus on that first digit and assign it undeserved importance because our cave-dweller brains are easily tricked. This is why the 2021 Audi RS6 Avant's certifiably ballistic 60-mph time of 3.1 seconds seems, in a bizarre way, mundane. If that time were two-tenths of a second quicker, we'd be petitioning for National RS6 Day, a time to celebrate and reflect on the RS6's righteous and scarcely believable acceleration. Instead, we're like, "Yeah, about what we expected." Can you really even feel the difference between a 2.9-second and 3.1-second run? Sure, to the same extent you notice that five-cent difference in the pretax price of ShamWows and a $20 bill, which is to say barely at all. But thanks to left-digit bias, the RS6 Avant puts us in the unusual position of apologizing for numbers that should require no apologies.
HIGHS: Mind-melting, brain-rattling V-8; light-footed dynamics; fun for the whole family.
Those numbers include the output from the twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8—591 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque—and the quarter-mile run of 11.5 seconds at 120 mph. These are impeccable performance bona fides, though maybe not what we consider supercar numbers these days. Then again, this is a station wagon. That's easy to forget when you're behind the wheel, looking out over those flared front fenders (2.5 inches wider than a standard A6's) and listening to the turbos and sport exhaust carry on a lively banter of chuffs and thunder. The cargo area is capacious and practical and hidden by a slick motorized cover, but you'll want to lash down those groceries because what's behind you tends to slip your mind when your skull is crushed into the headrest with the force of gravity (and then some). Activate launch control and you might see the gauge-cluster accelerometer spike at 1.19 g's, as we did. That'll scramble your eggs and your inner ear.
The Avant isn't just a drag-strip specialist, though. Like many of Audi's RS forebears, the RS6 is seemingly handicapped by a front-loaded weight bias, that V-8 overbite saddling the nose with 55.0 percent of the car's heft. But in practice, the RS6 feels perfectly balanced and even a little tail-happy thanks to the magic of torque vectoring and four-wheel steering. The rear sport differential can send almost all the torque to one side or the other, collaborating with the rear steering to endow the big Audi with instant turn-in. Add some throttle with your steering lock—which in a nose-heavy all-wheel-drive car would normally result in tragic understeer—and the rear end will start to swing wide while the front holds the line. The RS6 Avant is the unlikely 5031-pound car that can dance. Again, don't get too obsessed with the at-the-limit numbers (in this case, a middling 0.94 g on the skidpad). It feels plenty grippy when you're bombing down your favorite off-ramp.
LOWS: Thirstier than a salmon in the Sahara, exotic price.
So Audi nailed the essentials, and—here's the tricky part, sometimes—it did it with panache. Just look at this thing. Is this not the meanest wagon yet conceived by humankind? After an initial 10-minute drive, we had two text messages from neighbors who'd seen the car on the road. Sample: "Was that an RS6? Is Audi finally bringing that back to the U.S.? Woooowww." The basic shape and stance are so perfect that you recognize this car from 100 paces, but it's also interesting when you zoom in on the details. Check out the yellow decals inside the headlights, warning you not to stare because there are lasers in there. Or the Audi Sport puddle lights when you open the front doors at night. Or the optional blacked-out Audi logos on the grille and hatch. All of it works to reinforce the message that this isn't the Allroad. Maybe the AllRoadCourse.
The RS6 Avant can pretend it's reasonable family transportation if you relax the adaptive suspension and ignore the button on the steering wheel labeled "RS Mode." But that's a difficult button to ignore. The RS modes (two of them, in ascending order of depravity) are customizable, but both of them sharpen the Avant's responses and generally serve to amplify the fun, even jacking up the idle so the car feels like it's straining the leash when it's stopped. You can, of course, make the exhaust louder by selecting either of the RS modes, but in this car, the rumble out back is always rivaled by the soundtrack from the intake. Turbos normally whoosh. The RS6 Avant's sound like Lord Gorg just exited the airlock of his starship to announce an important revision to the food chain and your new position therein.
The RS6 drawbacks, such as they are, tend to fall into the category of self-owns. For instance, the RS6's sleek interior touchscreens on the center stack (a 10.1-inch upper display and an 8.6-inch lower one) look minimalist, which is appropriate since they're minimally functional. Why did Audi kill the scroll knob? If you want to change a radio station, you can use the touchscreen, steering wheel buttons, or volume knob toggle, all of which work equally badly. Try to jump more than two or three stations and the system has a CPU fart and freezes where it is. At first we just thought the car really loved Ozzy's Boneyard.
And there's a lot of hardware crammed into that nose. (That's not unprecedented: The 2003 RS6 engine bay was so cramped you had to drop the front anti-roll bar to do an oil change.) Cooling fans tend to run for a long time after you shut down the engine. The fuel economy stinks—17 mpg combined, per the EPA. And top speed is restricted to 156 mph instead of a claimed 190 unless you ante up for the carbon-ceramic brakes, which cost $8500. You're telling us that the standard 16.5-inch front and 14.6-inch rear rotors can't handle 190? That's so unfair we're going to our room and slamming the door.
But we won't stay mad, because the RS6 Avant validates enthusiasts with its very existence. In a world lousy with 600-hp SUVs, we don't have nearly enough 600-hp wagons. Note that we didn't say "affordable 600-hp wagons." Audi says it builds a two-digit number of RS6 Avants per day at its Neckarsulm plant in Germany, but it'd surely make more if it could find a bigger crowd of buyers willing and able to trade tall stacks of hundred-dollar bills for a rally family sport wagon.
Greatness doesn't come cheap. And left-digit bias, pervasive as it is, has its limits, as exemplified by the RS6's $110,045 base price. It's not like $110,050 is some talismanic psychological threshold for financial responsibility. And in any case, adding a few options quickly bumped our as-tested price to $119,840. But that price looks pretty good when you compare the RS6 with its corporate cousin, the Porsche Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo, which is similarly rapid but costs $158,350 before you so much as color in those crests.
Normally when we argue that there's more to a car than its numbers, we're talking about something like a Mazda Miata, which doesn't look quick on paper but is a joy to drive. The RS6 Avant actually does put up some monster numbers. But the experience is even better.
The Audi SQ8 is a high-performance SUV that slots into the Q8 range beneath the incredibly powerful and expensive flagship RS Q8. The SQ8 is typical of Audi’s large, luxury models, with a powerful engine, array of technology and high-quality materials making it both quick and comfortable.
Until late 2020, the SQ8 was fitted with a 4.0-litre V8 diesel engine producing 429bhp but this has now been swapped for a twin-turbocharged petrol V8 of the same size with 500bhp. It's likely a move to help the SQ8 appeal in the US and Chinese markets, and the engine suits the SQ8's character. The SQ8 is fast enough to keep up with most sports cars away from the lights but it's now even less economical.
Helping keep the car’s considerable mass in check, active roll bars use motors powered by the SQ8's 48-volt mild-hybrid system to reduce body roll. These slacken off when you aren't throwing the SQ8 into a bend, resulting in surprisingly good ride comfort, with air suspension able to filter out most imperfections, even when fitted with huge 22-inch alloy wheels. It's a good deal more comfortable than the RS Q8, which is fitted with a more powerful version of the same engine.
The interior is as classy as you’d expect in an Audi SUV costing around £80,000, with three digital screens blending seamlessly with high-quality materials including wood, metal and leather. The infotainment system is easy to use too, making the SQ8 just as easy to operate as an Audi A3. Upgrade to the top Vorsprung trim and the already lavish spec is bolstered with a heads-up display, Bang & Olufsen stereo, panoramic roof and four-wheel steering system to boost agility.
The Audi SQ8 has a huge amount of technology under its bodywork, all designed to deliver the most performance possible while also fighting to keep fuel consumption and CO2 emissions in check. This includes a 48-volt mild-hybrid system that uses a small generator to harvest energy under deceleration. This can be used to power the car's electrics when the engine is off and to give acceleration a small boost.
Audi claims the SQ8 can return up to 23.5mpg, a figure that's down on the 31mpg of the prior diesel but one that isn't likely to shock prospective owners of a 500bhp SUV too much. CO2 emissions are quoted at around 270g/km, which comfortably puts the car in the top BiK bracket for company-car drivers. Car tax will cost £475 in years two to six, then £150 a year thereafter.
All versions of the SQ8 are in group 50, so it’s an expensive car to insure. Maintenance bills are likely to be similarly steep but Audi’s three-year warranty does at least allow for unlimited mileage in the first two years of ownership, with the third year limited to 60,000 miles. Four and five year warranty extensions are available, too.
Engines, drive & performance
Turbocharged mild-hybrid V8 powertrain is mightily impressive
In place of the 4.0-litre V8 TDI diesel engine, which delivered a prodigious 429bhp and 900Nm of torque, Audi has seen fit to draft in a petrol V8 of the same size. This produces 500bhp and should appeal to US and Chinese buyers, where diesels have never been as popular.
The SQ8 surges forwards with every brush of the accelerator pedal, with a smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox and quattro four-wheel drive helping build momentum. The engine sounds good, arguably suiting the SQ8's character better than the diesel. It's the same unit as the one fitted in the Audi RS Q8 but with 92bhp less and a £20,000 lower price tag, which some will view as a bargain. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes 4.1 seconds and the top speed is electronically limited to 155mph.
Despite the performance, it's the composure of SQ8 models fitted with an active roll control system that's most impressive. Fitted as standard in the top Vorsprung trim, it seamlessly reduces body lean without ruining ride comfort, and the result makes the SQ8 feel like it's shrunk around you on certain roads. It's just a shame the accurate steering is lacking in feel.
Despite its size and weight, the SQ8 handles deftly for a high-riding SUV. Switching it into the ‘Dynamic’ drive mode sharpens the suspension, steering and throttle, making it feel more agile in corners. Its lower and wider stance means it feels quite a bit more engaging and enjoyable to drive than the closely related Audi SQ7.
At lower speeds, the steering is accurate thanks to its rear-wheel steering setup, with the quattro all-wheel-drive system and huge tyres working together to provide considerable cornering grip. You can turn into bends quicker than you’d think and then use the torque of the V8 engine to fire you out the other side.
The car’s sizable power output is also beneficial at motorway speeds, too, with 70mph possible with little effort from the engine, making the SQ8 a very refined and relaxed long-distance cruiser.
One of the best attributes of the SQ8 is that it remains comfortable, despite its sporting upgrades and massive 22-inch alloy wheels. The standard air suspension system does an excellent job of soaking up bumps, even in its firmest mode, with the typical sharp ridges and potholes found on UK roads only occasionally making it into the cabin. It has a more comfy, laid-back feel than the Audi RS Q8, which some buyers may prefer.
Most of the Q8's excellent interior design is carried over, including a touchscreen MMI infotainment system with clear and intuitive menus. Sports seats with diamond-stitched leather add to the sense of occasion, while aluminium or carbon trim can be fitted depending on your taste and the car's specification. It all adds up to a model that feels as sturdy and luxurious as you'd hope.
It might be less practical than the massive Audi Q7 on which it’s based but the SQ8 still offers lots of room for front and backseat passengers. You'll also be able to carry a lot more with you than in any sports car, with 605 litres of space behind the rear seats. Folding them forwards extends this to 1,755 litres, a figure that's competitive with a lot of performance estates.
There's also slightly more space than you'll find in the back of the BMW X6, with 580 litres of boot space, while the Mercedes GLE Coupe matches the Audi for luggage room.
The SQ8 is one of Audi's flagship models, so it's as full of technology and safety kit as you'd expect. This should make it very reassuring to drive with family and friends onboard, but reliability is less well known.
The car is based on the same underpinnings as the Q7 but a lot of its technology, including its 48-volt mild-hybrid system and electric compressor are too new for us to judge their reliability. Big, fast SUVs are also very complicated and tend to put lots of strain on their components, so some teething problems should probably be expected.
Long-distance drivers will find that the SQ8 can ease the strain of hours spent behind the wheel, with enough sensors and systems to practically drive itself in traffic on the motorway when the Tour Assistance Package is fitted. In fact, a tablet-sized computer is required 'behind the scenes' to interpret all the data from the car's five radar sensors, five cameras and 12 ultrasound sensors.