Monday, July 22, 2024
First Reviews2024 Audi Q8 First Drive Review: Flagship Styles

2024 Audi Q8 First Drive Review: Flagship Styles

Updated 2024 Audi Q8 brings visual updates and fancy lighting tech


2024 Audi Q8 Pros

– Styling upgrades deliver more attitude to the most character-laden SUV in its segment.

– SQ8 power is addictive.

– New digitized lights put on quite the show.

 


2024 Audi Q8 Cons

– Ride quality and refinement fall short of expectations.

– Steering is numb and brakes are grabby.

 


As the flagship of Audi’s Q-model lineup, the Q8 sets the tone for all the others. Its impact, since its introduction for 2020, is unmistakable as even the entry-level Q3 visually punches above its weight class. For the 2024model year, Audi has fitted the Q8 with subtle yet sharp upgrades that will inevitably trickle down the product line once again.

2024 Audi SQ8 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Q8 and SQ8

 

The 2024 models of the Q8 and SQ8 use the same powertrains previously offered. The “regular” carries forward with the 55 TFSI quattro mechanicals that consist in turbocharged 3.0L TFSI V6 engines that promises 335 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. Despite the SUV’s girth, the ample low-end torque hustles the vehicle up to speed with gusto, reaching 100 km/ in just over 5.5 seconds.

 

The SQ8 quattro’s twin-turbocharged 4.0L TFSI V8 engine boasts an impressive 507 hp and nearly 570 lb-ft of torque. This Super SUV is designed for the big leagues with performance figures that shock – it’ll hit 100 km/h from a standstill in barely more than 4 seconds.

 

Both see the power channelled to the quattro AWD system via a gifted 8-speed automatic transmission. As for the driving experience, the Q8 leans heavily towards sport over luxury but there’s a price to be paid. Both the tested Q8 (available) and SQ8 (standard) were equipped with the adaptive air suspension that, unless is set to “comfortable” via the Drive Select modes, has difficulty handling body movements or weight transfers. It’s never crash-y but also never quite settled. In “Balanced” or “Sport”, the behaviour is worsened.

2024 Audi Q8 | Photo: Audi

Further marring the experience is steering. No matter the setting, though “Balanced” is best, response and communication are numb and disconnected – this has nothing to do with responsiveness. Lastly, the brakes are grabby rendering the pedal difficult to modulate for smooth city driving. Factor in the 48V MHEV system with Start-Stop and stop-and-go traffic driving is unpleasant.

 


Illuminating the Path Ahead

 

Audi’s advanced digital LED technology is at the forefront of the 2024 updates. The Q8 models now feature standard Matrix-design LED headlights.  Available as an option, the HD Matrix-design LED headlights with Audi laser light distinguish themselves with digital daytime running-light signatures. The SQ8 takes lighting innovation a step further with the available digital OLED rear lights.

 

These innovative digital feature grants the driver the ability to customize their vehicle’s appearance with a choice of four distinct light signatures, all selectable through the Audi MMI interface, adding a level of personalization previously unseen in the segment.

2024 Audi Q8 | Photo: Audi

Design That Speaks Volumes

 

The 2024 Q8 and SQ8’s exterior design remain a nod to Audi’s heritage, drawing inspiration from the iconic Audi Ur Quattro. The frameless doors and gently inclined D-pillars, supported by wide, pronounced wheel arches or quattro blisters, pay homage to Audi’s quattro DNA.

 

The octagonal Singleframe grille, now with L-shaped treatments, and the new air intakes integrated into the lower fascia, is now devoid of chrome for a stealthier look. With the available Black Optic package and the high-gloss black Singleframe mask, the whole of the front end is nothing short of sinister. Both the front and rear bumpers are revised as well.

2024 Audi Q8 | Photo: Audi

The 2024 Q8 and SQ8 are not just about performance and looks; they also offer a new level of individualization. With new exterior colors (Sakhir Gold (Q8, SQ8); and Ascari Blue and Chili Red (SQ8)), wheel designs ranging in size from 21- to 23 inches, and interior inlays, drivers can tailor their vehicles to their personal tastes. The SQ8, in particular, features a Carbon twill matte inlay as standard, adding to the bespoke nature of the vehicle.

 


Midlife Update

 

The changes brought to the 2024 Audi Q8 family are subtle though still noticeable. The key with these updates was to the Q8 and SQ8 instantly recognizable, and they certainly are. In fact, the Q8 is sharper-looking and possibly the most striking in its segment. Unfortunately, the drive disappoints with the aforementioned issues. If memory serves, the Q7 is more refined and still, in my opinion, more SUV than the Q8.

 

The Q8’s main competition sits among the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE, neither of which are flagships for their respective brands. Of the three, the X5 offers the more rewarding drive but doesn’t quite match the Q8 in the styling department.

2024 Audi SQ8 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2024 Audi SQ8 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2024 Audi SQ8 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2024 Audi SQ8 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2024 Audi Q8 | Photo: Audi
2024 Audi Q8 | Photo: Audi
2024 Audi Q8 | Photo: Audi
2024 Audi SQ8 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2024 Audi SQ8 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2024 Audi SQ8 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

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Matt St-Pierre
Matt St-Pierre
Trained as an Automotive Technician, Matt has two decades of automotive journalism under his belt. He’s done TV, radio, print and this thing called the internet. He’s an avid collector of many 4-wheeled things, all of them under 1,500 kg, holds a recently expired racing license and is a father of two. Life is beautiful. Send Matt an emai

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