2019 Audi Q8 Quattro Review - Technocratic Sport
2019 Audi Q8 quattro
Maybe I am softening in my old age, or maybe crossovers are getting a bit better to drive, or both, but I found myself semi-charmed by Audi’s Q8 crossover. Of course, a luxury crossover should be somewhat enticing, lest the buyer feel he or she wasted money each month when that car payment auto drafts out of the bank account.
I say semi-charmed for a few reasons. One, the Q8 is still a crossover, not a sport sedan. Two, there were tradeoffs.
We’ll get to that. First – a quick note. While the model reviewed here is a 2019, I drove it during 2020. Well into 2020 – the pandemic had already begun. I was loaned a 2019 because that’s what was in the fleet and the Q8 is functionally unchanged for 2020.
Maybe I’m getting soft in my old age, maybe it’s a sort of Stockholm Syndrome, or maybe automakers, specifically that who charge hefty price tags, are getting better building crossovers that are relatively entertaining to drive, but this here Q8 charmed me a bit.
Three-hundred and thirty-five horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque from the 3.0-liter turbo V6 doesn’t hurt, although the eight-speed automatic can be a bit harsh while performing its duties. But it’s the handling, which is relatively dialed in for a luxury crossover, that shines.
Unfortunately, that same sharp handling comes at the expense of a fairly stiff ride. Not punishing, exactly, but if you live in a place with perpetually pock-marked pavement, the Q8 will remind you that each bump is there, even with standard adaptive damping.
An available adaptive air suspension allows one to adjust both ride height and firmness to increase comfort. My test unit didn’t have it. It did have different drive modes, including a comfort mode that does relax the Q8, along with a Dynamic mode that spices things up.
That available adaptive air suspension can also be used to create more ground clearance.
So it’s quick and a bit rough around the edges, as a trade-off. Though not so much you forget this is a luxury crossover with a base price just under $70K.
There are a few different ways to do luxury, particularly when it comes to interiors, and Audi is all-in on the techno theme.
Everything is digital – gauge cluster, well-integrated infotainment screen, most of the climate controls – with minimum use of knobs and buttons. The integration of Google Earth into the nav system, and the ability to integrate it into the gauge cluster, is a nice touch.
Clean lines in the interior give the Q8 a modernist look without making controls less user-friendly to operate, though the shifter frustrates in situations when must shift from drive to reverse and back (or vice versa) quickly.
Outside, the tech-modernist look continues, and Audi manages to keep it from descending into the absurd. The sloping roofline shows the sporty intent, and the look is mostly cohesive, though the angry face presented by the front is a bit over the top. Viewed head-on, the Q8 looks perpetually pissed off, thanks to how the hood line angles down towards the middle from each side.
The large wheels – 22s, on this model – do look a tad goofy.
Luxury, especially German luxury, tends to be on the pricier side, and the Q8 is no exception. I already touched on the base price being close to $70K, and options bring that price close to $80K. On the other hand, buyers in this class expect coddling even before any options boxes are checked and this vehicle comes out of the box well equipped.
Standard features include power hands-free tailgate, navigation, digital cockpit, adaptive damping suspension, MMI infotainment system, heated front seats, leather seats, panoramic sunroof, LED headlights, Bluetooth, satellite radio, three-zone climate control, split-fold rear seat, power tilt/telescope steering column, USB, LED DRLS, LED taillights, low-speed front collision assist, and a rearview camera.
The dark gray paint cost $595, and the Premium Plus Package added four grand. Yep, $4,000. Four big ones. What you get for that spend is 21-inch wheels, all-season tires, Bang and Olufsen audio, ambient interior lighting, illuminated door sills, top-down camera, four-zone climate control, cooled front seats, wireless cell-phone charging, high-beam assist, blind-spot assist, rear cross-traffic alert, power-folding sideview mirrors, and vehicle-exit warning.
A $2,750 Driver Assistance Package adds adaptive cruise control with traffic-jam assist, lane assist, intersection assist, and traffic-sign recognition.
We’re not done. A Year One Package that runs $2,250 replaced the 21-inch wheels with 22s and added black roof rails and red-painted brake calipers. A Towing Package runs $650, Cold Weather Package (heated steering wheel, heated rear seats) $600, and a CD/DVD player is $100. Plus $995 for destination and you have a $79,340 crossover.
One that gets 17 mpg city, 19 mpg highway, and 22 mpg combined.
The Q8 is a bit of an odd duck. Some will be left cold by the Sprockets styling, while a stiff ride and stiff-shifting transmission will put off others. But it’s quick enough around town, and responsive enough, and some of the tech is darn cool – for some, that will be enough to justify a hefty monthly payment.
Here we have a likable yet emotionally distant crossover that leans into a high-tech theme. How very German.
[Images © 2020 Tim Healey/TTAC]
Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.
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