mReview: Audi SQ8 Sportback e-tron – More Power Solves All Problems

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Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1717846705473 Mreview Audi Sq8 Sportback E Tron More Power Solves All Problems Featured

When I drove the standard Q8 e-trons, I found them to be extremely capable but rather sedate. This souped-up version though, is a completely different story. 

My biggest gripe with the Audi Q8 e-tron was that it felt a little soulless (you can read more about it here). I’m pleased to say that adding an ‘S’ to the front of that name has totally changed the character and feel of the car. The SQ8 e-tron is an absolute riot.

The main contributor to this newfound personality is the SQ8’s powertrain. There are now three electric motors that together make a healthy 496hp and an eye-watering 973Nm of torque. Those motors are fed by a titanic 114kWh battery pack that sits under the floor but despite the battery’s size, don’t expect much in the way of range.

Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1717846754645 D38 V3788 FotorThis Ultra Blue Metallic paint job is a great pick.

Efficiency is far from this car’s strong suit. In my testing, I only averaged 28.8kWh/100km which is not great, working out to less than 400km of range on a full charge and a far cry from the official range claim of 471km. But, 2,650kg of weight is a lot to lug around so the consumption figures aren’t really surprising. 

It’s a good thing then, that the SQ8 e-tron has that triple motor setup because my word is it quite the setup. Trying to put what 973Nm of torque feels like into words is a difficult task, there’s nothing I can say that can accurately match up to the sheer force of 2.6 tons of Audi going far quicker than it really should. 

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0-100km/h is taken care of in 4.5 seconds. That might not sound like much on paper compared to some other EVs and sporty cars but remember, this is a very large, very heavy, luxury SUV that somehow has an ability to accelerate with a ferocity previously reserved for rollercoasters and astronauts. 

Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1717846803570 D38 V3833 FotorIn the SQ8 non-e-tron, this would be a V8 but the e-tron gets a small frunk instead.

There is a monumental shove every time you get on the accelerator with whining and whirring from the motors giving it an extra spaceship-style feel. Electricity has given the SQ8 e-tron a level of performance that it would never achieve otherwise. Sure, the non-e-tron SQ8 comes with a V8 engine but even that is a world of difference compared to three motors and a whacking great battery.

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The main downside, performance-wise, to having electric power is of course the weight. I can still hardly believe that this thing weighs 2.6 tons, that is a simply ludicrous amount of weight to be hurtling around at high speed. So it’s a good thing that the SQ8 has some monstrous brakes to match its monstrous performance. 

The SQ8’s 15.7-inch front rotors are larger than some cars have wheels and work an absolute treat at slowing down the e-tron’s hulking mass. On the other hand, the regenerative brakes just do not feel strong enough to get the car slowed effectively. 

Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1717846778093 D38 V3831 FotorScreens everywhere but they work seamlessly and logically.

Weight does have some upsides though, the stability of the SQ8 at speed is phenomenal. Almost no sound penetrates the cabin at any speed, not even from the low-profile, 22-inch rims, sheltering you from any external disturbances, further reinforcing the bunkered feel when driving the SQ8. 

Apart from some Audi S-branded cosmetic elements, the interior is still business as usual for Audi and is almost identical to the interior of the non-S Q8 e-trons which is a good thing. The interior of the (S)Q8 is one of the best thought-out and best-working ones in the car industry today and you can read more about it in the Q8 e-tron review here

Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1717846790929 D38 V3846+%2 B+D38 V3843+FotorThe Sportback body style robs some boot space but there's still 528 litres left for your stuff.

Crucially for me, all of the car’s key functions, even if they are on a screen, are logically located and not locked within the submenus. The aircon controls, for instance, are permanently located on the lower screen within easy reach. There are also all the features you would expect from a luxury product like the Bang & Olufsen sound system and a 360˙ camera. 

But I think the biggest difference and the biggest improvement over the standard Q8 e-tron is the presence of a personality. The SQ8 feels as if the normal Q8 got tired of being called boring, got very drunk, and started to proclaim “Look at what I can do!” to show everyone that it’s more than just a machine and that there’s a humorous and playful heart beneath all the leather.

Perhaps the solution to the EVs-have-no-soul problem really is as simple as just adding more power.

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Audi SQ8 Sportback e-tron
Price (at time of publishing): $644,810 including COE  VES Band: B
Three electric motors
Charging Rate:
170 kW DC, 11 kW AC
Power & Torque:
370 kW (496 bhp) 
& 973 Nm
Two-stage planetary gearbox with single gear
Driven Wheels:
31.2 kWh/100km
0-100 km/h:
5.1 seconds (4.5 seconds in Boost Mode)
Top Speed:
210 km/h
Battery Capacity:
114 kWh
Dimensions (L x W x H):
4,915 mm x 2,189 mm 
x 1,617 mm
2,928 mm
Cargo Capacity:
528 litres

Read More: mReview: Audi Q8 e-tron 55 & Q8 Sportback e-tron 55 – All Business

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