Sassy, sporty or plain sexy... the Audi Q8, the brand's big push into the ultra SUV market, is all this and much more. Yes, it rides on its killer looks and brute power, unlike many other SUVs on the roads (You can read our review of the Mercedes G350D here, Mercedes AMG G63 here, Porsche Macan here, and the 2020 Jaguar XE here.
Bigger, more comfortable and quite thoughtful
Everything inside looks plush and minimal. That’s the advantage of a completely digital cockpit. It’s not until you turn the ignition on that you even notice anything other than elegant black screens and a glossy panel on the dash that masks the air vents beautifully. There are two MMI and Touch Response screens, where the primary screen measures 10.1 inches and is used for your entertainment, comfort and basic communication functions. The screen offers the award-winning MMI touch feedback system that makes it seem more tangibly tolerable, versus regular screens that do not acknowledge input. The secondary 8.6-inch display is where you can customise your settings further such as selecting your driving modes, adjusting front passenger temperature settings, and leveraging more intelligent driving features. The boot is spacious, illuminated and also has a suspension control button inside so that the car lowers itself to make loading heavy luggage less painful.
Also read: Upcoming cars of 2020
…also more intuitive
More importantly, the Q8 cockpit is designed around the driver. The shifter is extremely ergonomic and allows you to switch from park to reverse in a blink. The steering bears usual controls and can be adjusted to suit the driver’s preferences. The customisable contour seats offer incredible features such as adjustable cushioning features around your legs and torso, a very handy massage feature and warming/cooling options. The seats move as far back as a driver’s seat can go, and still doesn’t compensate on the legroom of the rear seats.
While the Q8 claims to be a 5-seater, the rear middle seat could comfortably accommodate only a toddler. Which means, the rear occupants would be better off having the centre tray collapsed and sip cool beverages if there are only four of you.
While I may have touched upon some of the tech muscle of the Q8 earlier, there’s no denying that the fully-digital instrument cluster is phenomenal. Audi’s navigation maps appear before both dials and you can switch from call log status to entertainment controls in the space between the dials with just a swipe.
This level of driver centricity not only ensures convenience but also safety, as you needn’t take your eyes off to look at your secondary display. To make it even better, the heads-up display projects vital data like your speed and the time onto the windscreen.
An audiophile’s lair
Bang & Olufsen have pulled off a neat trick with the 23-speaker configuration in the Q8. The Acoustic Lens Technology lends itself as a visual design treat in the car, to what is otherwise only considered an audial spec. Pumping out 1,920 watts in crystal clear 3D sound, the speakers do well to meld into the overall design of the interior.
In fact, it’s a fun exercise spotting all the speakers when you first enter the car. The intelligent Vehicle Noise Compensation aids in drowning out the traffic sound and ensuring that you only listen to what you like. Clearly, the Audi Q8 audio by B&O is one of the best I have ever driven with.
Makes driving addictive
The best thing about driver-centric cockpits is how accessible every aspect of the car becomes. With a 3-litre turbocharged V6 petrol engine that produces 340hp on Indian roads, you wouldn’t be blamed for feeling inflated pride. The 8-speed Tiptronic transmission is a handy ally as are the driving modes that adjust the steering behaviour and suspension, depending on what terrain you’re on. I’d recommend you switch it to Auto and let the car do all the worrying. The Q8 clocks an impressive 250kmph top speed and can accelerate from 0–100 kmph in just under 6 seconds. Being a petrol car the Q8 may deter those who trudge their way through city traffic every day.
While the car simply glides over expressways, it does feel bumpy on uneven roads, when compared to the Range Rover Sport or the BMW X6.
You may find the lack of surround cameras disheartening, but what you can enjoy is the 3D surround view of your car on the main display, as if it is shot from a drone.
You would also appreciate the adaptive air suspension, parking assist, cruise control with speed limiting, extremely intelligent and responsive mirrors that dim to reduce glare and gesture-controlled boot opening.
The Audi Q8 is simply an obvious choice for anyone looking to dabble in the crossover/SUV ecosystem, without compromise. It is so focussed on what you like that you can pick from a whopping 54 exterior and 11 interior colours to suit your palate.
The driver is the most pampered occupant of this car, be it by the temperature-controlled footwell or the heated steering wheel.
Our verdict: With great looks comes great utility
Crossovers today aren’t known to look demure and overtly graceful. The Q8 follows suit with a domineering front façade that is largely comprised of a massive single-frame grille, which is flanked by contoured air inlets. The HD Matrix LED headlamps put up an elegant light show when the car kicks into life, as does the rear light strip. The headlamps sense oncoming traffic and automatically adjust so as not to dazzle oncoming motorists with a technology called ‘predictive masking’. The roof slopes and conceals a panoramic sunroof of the likes we’ve hardly seen in this category. The tailpipes look rather large, but on closer inspection that’s most of what the trapezoidal design is: looks. The Audi Q8 is a big car. Being nearly five meters long and two meters wide lends to the spaciousness inside. And, boy, has Audi utilised the interiors judiciously.