The Q8 is humongously large, standing just under 5 metres. The 8, however, is smaller than the 7 from all quarters. The design is a paradigm shift as well. The front houses an all-new hexagonal grille with a rightful mix of chrome, no exaggeration.
Now, don’t judge the new flagship just based on the face. Upcoming models like the new generation Q7, Q3, and most others will carry Audi’s new theme. The exclusive bit about Q8 is the customisation options, so much so that Audi claims no two Q8s on road will look identical.
The shades on 20-inch alloys are precision-cut and are delightful to watch when they roll. The synchronized matrix lighting was always there, it has just been made to look more premium for Q8. The frameless doors, something I’m a big fan of, reminds you and lookers of the uber-luxury Q8 brings to the table.
The squat stance of the coupe-SUV is more pronounced from the rear. There is a rich interplay of lights on the chiseled tailgate.
Unlike the Q7, you get five seats inside the cabin and a huge boot space of 600 litres. 11 upholstery options and 9 inlay colours can be some serious brainstorming to get the desired combination right.
The outside is dramatically different and exudes the Quattro feel. The inside, on the other hand, is rich and plush as well. That said, the lump in the throat for Q8 has to be the dashboard. The exact triple screen set up with piano black insert is also present in A6, which in fact is half the price of Q8. Really hard to justify.
That said, 90 per cent of the key controls are accessed through these large panels on the central console. The screens lack physical buttons and rather work through tactile feedback, which in my books isn’t the best thing to have if you don’t have a front co-occupant to regulate the temperature or cue the music.
For Rs 1.36 crore, you enjoy quite a bit of creature comforts inside the Q8. Features like a panoramic sunroof, four-zone climate control, B&Q hi-fi sound system, ambient lighting, front seat heating, ventilation, massage and more are there to pamper you. On the other hand, the steering doesn’t cast a picture that you’re driving an Audi flagship. The buttons on the pilot wheel are minimal and aren’t thickly built to hold.
The back seat space and comfort are also praiseworthy. The room on offer is huge and thanks to the plush ride quality, I’d mostly pick the back seat of Q8 over driving it.
On the move, what surprises me the most is the ride quality. The air suspensions with mammoth 20-inch wheels in most cases send the ride quality for a toss. Contrary to that, Audi Q8 does a great job of understanding the comfort of every occupant. The body roll is minimal to bother. The Q8’s frameless windows seal against the door jams well, with highway wind noise successfully kept in check.
It’s good to notice that the handling hasn’t been compromised either to present a plush feel inside the cabin. The agility from the 2-tonne SUV is rather encouraging.
VW Group’s decision to part ways with diesel means the Q8 is only available in 55 TFSI.
The 3-litre turbo-petrol engine is extremely refined and powerful, however, for a fact, Q7’s Diesel engine is a big miss here. The petrol engine, belting out 340 horses and 500 Nm, is quick and engaging. The power delivery is unhurried and there is a strong surge at the start-up and later in the rev band. The engine growls a little near the red line but the superb cabin insulation keep it filtered. The ZF-sourced 8-speed automatic is an evergreen transmission, which continues to evolve as a better outfit with every passing year.
Audi Q8 looks the way a flagship should look like, drives with a lot of heart yet the interiors may divide opinions. Will Q8 fill the shoes of Q7? Looks very, very unlikely. That said, Q8 is something most of us can hardly afford. If you can, the GLS from Mercedes-Benz and BMW X7 present greater versatility. In case, you stick your neck out for Audi, RS Q8 is here to enthrall you.