Update: ‘First driving impressions’ section added.
The Audi e-tron that debuted as the brand’s first all-electric SUV in September 2018 has received its mid-life facelift. In addition to a cosmetic refresh and technical revisions, it goes by the name Audi Q8 e-tron. In this story, we take a detailed look at the differences between the old and new electric SUV models:
In what can be described as an unusual move, Audi has changed the name of the e-tron series in the middle of its lifecycle. The refreshed Audi e-tron and Audi e-tron Sportback have arrived as the Audi Q8 e-tron and Audi Q8 Sportback e-tron, respectively. Audi likely plans to reposition these models to the same segment as the Q8 in the next generation, which is the explanation for the name change.
In late 2021, Audi confirmed that the next-gen Audi Q8 e-tron would be introduced in 2026, manufactured at Audi’s plant in Brussels. As the 2024 e-tron has received comprehensive changes, and the Q8 brand is associated with a high-end SUV, Audi’s marketing division may not have felt the need to wait until 2026 for a car worthy of the Q8 e-tron nameplate.
2023 Audi Q8 e-tron Design
The 2023 Audi Q8 e-tron features a new 3D Singleframe grille that is flatter and has bigger, honeycomb-shaped openings and inserts. It connects the headlights, creating one unit and highlighting the SUV’s width. The new grille is available in different colors, which gives customers a greater degree of personalization. A new projection light integrated into the upper edge of this panel visually forms a connection with the horizontal DRL stripe inside the headlights.
The Audi logo has a flat look in a new, two-dimensional design. New pentagonal, visibly more prominent pentagonal housing for the air curtains follows the structure of the headlights. The front bumper is also new, and it gives the Q8 e-tron a sportier and more assertive styling. Even the headlamp washer is a new, rectangular piece, which shows Audi’s attention to detail.
On the sides, the Q8 e-tron features new alloy wheels. Like its predecessor, the Q8 e-tron is available with virtual mirrors in select markets. Developed and supplied by Spanish company Ficosa, the digital mirrors work in tandem with 7-inch OLED displays sourced from South Korea’s Samsung Display. In the U.S., these futuristic mirrors aren’t available, and we don’t expect them in the Q8 e-tron either, as NHTSA hasn’t approved their use. At the rear, the Q8 e-tron has a revised bumper with a new blade and a new diffuser with four vertical fins.
With a drag coefficient value of 0.27 Cd, the Q8 e-tron is slightly more aerodynamic than the e-tron (0.28 Cd). The Q8 e-tron is the first Audi featuring a self-healing system in the area around the grille. This system, which is in addition to the powered shutters, further improves the airflow at the front of the vehicle and prevents undesired losses. Another point worth noting is that the spoilers on the front wheels of the Q8 e-tron are larger.
The interior design of the Audi Q8 e-tron is no different from the e-tron. Audi offers light brown walnut wood and Tech Layer as two new decorative inlay options. The latter is available with a new anthracite-colored sustainable technical material partially made from recycled PET bottles. Also new are the plastic covers for the seatbelt buckles, which partially consist of mixed automotive plastic waste treated through a chemical recycling process.
Safety & driver assistance
Audi has used improved digital Matrix LED headlights on the Q8 e-tron. The orientation light of these optional headlights marks the vehicle’s position in the lane to assist the driver in keeping the vehicle centered. Plus, there are three new features: enhanced traffic information, the lane light with a direction indicator, and the orientation light on country roads.
Audi equips the Q8 e-tron with up to five radar sensors, five cameras, and 12 ultrasonic sensors, which work together to let the EV’s 40-odd driver assistance systems do their work. Unlike the e-tron, the new model features remote park assist plus (2023-release), with which the vehicle can maneuver itself into even the tightest parking spaces. Customers can use remote park assist plus through the myAudi smartphone app to control their Q8 e-tron’s parking procedure. Once parked, the EV automatically turns itself off, puts on the parking brake, and locks the doors.
The Audi Q8 e-tron, like the model it replaces, comes in three variants, namely 50, 55, and S. The 50 and 55 variants use two motors, while the S variant sports three motors, which means there’s no change in this aspect. However, the power and torque figures have improved, albeit only in the base, 50 variant.
While the e-tron 50 powertrain produces 230 kW and 540 Nm of torque, the Q8 e-tron 50’s powertrain generates 250 kW in boost mode and 664 Nm of torque. The former doesn’t feature a boost mode. While the old model has a top speed of 190 km/h (118 mph), the new model can go further up to 200 km/h (124 mph).
Audi has modified the asynchronous motor concept on the rear for the Q8 e-tron. There are 14 coils generating the electromagnetic field, instead of 12 in the case of the e-tron. As a result, the magnetic field is stronger while the electricity input is at a similar level, and that means there’s more torque available. If the extra performance isn’t needed, the electric motor requires less energy to generate torque, which means lower consumption and a higher range.
Range and charging
A big improvement in the Q8 e-tron is in the range aspect, thanks to new battery packs with a higher energy storage capacity. Instead of the e-tron 50’s 64 kWh battery pack, the Q8 e-tron 50 has an 89 kWh battery pack. Thus, while the former can travel up to 341 km (212 mi) on a full charge (WLTP), the latter has a much higher range of 491 km (305 mi).
The Q8 55 e-tron and SQ8 e-tron share a 106 kWh battery pack instead of the e-tron 55 and e-tron S’ 86 kWh unit. While the old models manage 441 km (274 mi) and 372 km (231 mi), respectively, the new models’ range figures are 582 km (362 mi) and 494 km (307 mi), respectively (WLTP).
In the U.S., the e-tron is among the least efficient BEVs on sale, and the Q8 e-tron can’t come sooner. The e-tron 55 and e-tron S consume 43 kWh/100 mi and 46 kWh/100 mi. The e-tron’s range figures are terribly low, with the 55 variant capable of 226 miles and the S variant depleting at 208 miles. We expect the Q8 e-tron’s 55 and S variants to be capable of around 275 miles and 250 miles, respectively.
The e-tron 50 can accept DC charging at up to 120 kW, while the Q8 e-tron 50 charges at up to 150 kW on direct current. The Q8 55 e-tron and SQ8 e-tron’s maximum DC charging input is 170 kW, which is an improvement of 20 kW over the e-tron 55 and e-tron S. Below are the charging times:
|Charging Rate\Charging Time||Audi Q8 50 e-tron||Audi Q8 55 e-tron||Audi SQ8 e-tron|
|11 kW (0-100% SoC)||~9 hours 15 minutes||~11 hours 30 minutes||~11 hours 30 minutes|
|22 kW (0-100% SoC)||~4 hours 45 minutes||~6 hours||~6 hours|
|150 kW/170 kW (10-80% SoC)||To Be Announced||~31 minutes||~31 minutes|
Ride & handling
In addition to performance, range, and charging improvements, the Q8 e-tron offers improved handling. The gear ratio of the progressive steering system is different, which has resulted in improved responsiveness. The new model has a different tuning for the springs of its air suspension. Moreover, the suspension bearings on its front axle are more rigid, which has led to more direct transmission of steering movements to the wheels. The feedback on the steering wheel is also better in the new model, says Audi. All chassis control systems of the new model have some revisions.
|Aspect||Audi Q8 e-tron (50/55/S)||Audi e-tron (50/55/S)|
|No. of Motors||2/2/3||2/2/3|
|Maximum Combined Power (with Boost Mode if applicable)||250 kW (335 hp)/300 kW (402 hp)/370 kW (496 hp)||230 kW (308 hp)/300 kW (402 hp)/370 kW (496 hp)|
|Combined Torque (with Boost Mode if applicable)||664 Nm (490 lb.-ft.)/664 Nm (490 lb.-ft.)/973 Nm (718 lb.-ft.)||540 Nm (398 lb.-ft.)/664 Nm (490 lb.-ft.)/973 Nm (718 lb.-ft.)|
|Top Speed||200 km/h (124 mph)/200 km/h (124 mph)/210 km/h (130 mph)||190 km/h (118 mph)/200 km/h (124 mph)/210 km/h (130 mph)|
|Battery Pack||89 kWh/106 kWh/106 kWh||64 kWh/86 kWh/86 kWh|
|Max. AC Charging Power||22 kW/22 kW/22 kW||22 kW/22 kW/22 kW|
|Max. DC Charging Power||150 kW/170 kW/170 kW||120 kW/150 kW/150 kW|
|WLTP Range||491 km (305 mi)/582 km (362 mi)/494 km (307 mi)||341 km (212 mi)/441 km (274 mi)/372 km (231 mi)|
|EPA-est. Range||Not Confirmed/TBA/TBA||Not Applicable/226 mi/208 mi|
Price & Release Date
The Audi e-tron is available in the U.S., with prices starting at USD 70,800 (excl. USD 1,195 destination charge). The Q8 e-tron will arrive stateside by the end of April 2023. Expect it to be slightly costlier than the model it replaces.
Production of the Audi Q8 e-tron and Audi Q8 Sportback e-tron kicked off on December 14, 2022. Audi makes the SUVs at its Brussels plant in Belgium, the same facility where it was making the e-tron series since 2018. The company ships the Q8 e-tron’s electric motors to this factory from Hungary using rail transport.
On December 14, 2022, when Audi announced the start of production of the Q8 e-tron series, it said it has delivered around 160,000 units of its first electric model since 2018. The company sold 81,894 units of the all-electric Audi e-tron range in 2021, which was a growth of 57.5% compared to 2020. In the United States, Audi enjoyed a record year for electric vehicle sales in 2021, with an impressive increase of 52.5% over 2020. The Audi e-tron SUV’s sales grew modestly in Europe (+10.3%) but sharply in China (+68.7%), with both regions being major volume drivers for the brand.
Between January and September 2022, Audi delivered 36,565 units of the e-tron and e-tron Sportback combined. Compared to 36,124 units shipped in the first half of 2021, that marked a 1.2% year-over-year increase in another year that was marred by semiconductor chip shortages and other supply chain challenges. In the U.S., the four-ringed brand sold 6,358 units of the e-tron and 2,509 units of the e-tron Sportback during the first three quarters of 2022. Compared to the same period in 2021, the sales of these models were 16.7% and 33.2% up, respectively. For reference, Audi delivered 5,448 e-trons and 1,883 e-tron Sportbacks in the U.S. between January and September 2021.
First Driving Impressions
The American media has sampled the Q8 e-tron in the media drive conducted recently in Lanzarote, Spain.
According to Tony Quiroga of Car and Driver, the Q8 e-tron’s cabin remained incredibly quiet at speed. He reckons the new model’s cabin is even more hushed than the Sportback version’s, which recorded 63 decibels at 70 mph. Furthermore, Quiroga noticed the sharper steering that’s not only quicker and more responsive to inputs than before but also light. Finally, he pointed out that the new versions are noticeably quicker in their dash from 0 to 60 mph.
In his recent drive of the new models, Bengt Halvorson of Green Car Reports, noted that the least efficient variant in the whole line-up was the SQ8 e-tron, averaging 2.5 miles per kWh. Despite that, he pointed out that the new model showcased higher efficiency in similar test conditions over its predecessor. Halvorson noticed how much better at handling the new Q8 e-tron was when compared to the old model, tackling the slow but tightly curved island roads with more crispness. The drive also revealed the level of recuperation off the gas pedal being very light even in the new versions.
In their drive around the Grand Canary Island, MotorTrend determined that the new Audi Q8 e-tron’s cabin is quieter across different speed regiments than any of its nearest rivals. Another noteworthy positive was the dynamically satisfying driving experience, where the SQ8’s sure-footedness and appreciably minimal body roll during moderately-hard cornering left the testers impressed.
Audi launched the e-tron as its first global electric SUV in 2018 and isn’t abandoning the conversion electric vehicle in pursuit of newer and modern e-trons based on the PPE or MEB platforms. By adding style, efficiency, range and giving it space to operate above the upcoming Q6, Audi is rather setting new expectations from its oldest electric SUV!
Audi Q8 e-tron FAQs
What is the Audi Q8 e-tron release date?
The Audi Q8 e-tron with all-around improvements is officially expected to reach dealerships in the U.S. by April 2023.
What are the visual changes on the Q8 e-tron?
Revised Singleframe grille with a structured surface and horizontal inserts, new headlamp & taillamp graphics, and different bumpers & wheels.
What is the Audi Q8 e-tron range (WLTP)?
The Q8 e-tron can travel more than 582 km (362 miles) in the WLTP metric, thanks to significant upgrades.
Featured Image Source: Audi