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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Notable enhancements the place it counts

Final November, Audi introduced a rebranding of its flagship e-tron mannequin to the Q8 e-tron, establishing it as its top-of-the-line EV mannequin and solidifying its place within the c-segment with none extra confusion. I just lately obtained the chance to discover the added efficiency of each the Audi Q8 e-tron quattro and Sportback by the Redwoods and alongside the coast of Sonoma County in California. Listed below are my ideas.

Isn’t the Q8 simply the unique Audi e-tron?

Sure. Sure, it’s. However this isn’t a easy rebranding. The full modifications in comparison with final yr’s mannequin are usually not exponential, however any upgrades which have been made by Audi are useful to shoppers from a efficiency standpoint. We’ll dig into that in a minute, however first, let’s set up how we obtained right here.

Audi’s e-tron lineup of all-electric autos started in 2018 with the flagship automobile by the identical title. We’ve got since seen 4 extra fashions, together with e-tron GT and This autumn e-tron, along with a number of attention-grabbing e-tron ideas.

I’ll be the primary to confess that Audi’s e-tron mannequin nomenclature nonetheless generally confuses me on paper, however these EVs are a lot simpler to distinguish once you see them facet by facet. This previous November, Audi added a little bit of readability to its lineup by rebranding the unique e-tron SUV and Sportback because the Q8 e-tron.

The Audi staff advised us the reasoning behind the naming choice was to align with an current mannequin title that represents the model’s utmost high quality – and to segue that status into an all-electric period.

I’ve been following the progress of the 2024 mannequin yr Audi Q8 e-tron as we’ve realized US pricing and availability, nevertheless it wasn’t till final week that I lastly obtained my likelihood to get behind the wheel.

Updates past (and beneath) the aesthetic

In the event you’ve been in final yr’s e-tron or Sportback e-tron, you’d get inside these new fashions and surprise how a lot has modified. Honestly, not that a lot… a minimum of at first look. What Audi has performed right here is ship some critical innovation and optimization the place it issues… beneath all that shiny stuff on prime.

Audi has efficiently improved its battery and motor design inside each the Q8 e-tron SUV and Sportback. The engineers abroad utilized each inch of the EV’s battery modules by stacking every’s prismatic cells relatively than winding them. The result’s a battery pack that delivers practically 20 kWh extra gross capability (114 kWh vs. 95 kWh on the 2023 model) – all in the identical footprint.

Drivers of the 2024 Q8 e-tron fashions will be capable of make the most of 30% extra vary in comparison with earlier fashions, eclipsing 300 miles on a single cost within the Q8 Sportback S-Line e-tron (w/ extremely bundle). Right here’s a fast side-by-side comparability to actually grasp how way more effectivity Audi is delivering throughout the identical footprint:

e-tron Mannequin
2023 Sportback

e-tron quattro
e-tron quattro
2024 Sportback
e-tron quattro
2024 Sportback
e-tron quattro
(extremely bundle)
Battery Measurement (gross) 95 kWh 95 kWh 114 kWh 114 kWh 114 kWh
Peak Energy 402 hp 402 hp 402 hp 402 hp 402 hp
0-60 mph 5.5 sec (w/ enhance) 5.5 sec (w/ enhance) 5.4 sec 5.4 sec 5.3 sec
High Pace 124 mph 124 mph 124 mph (est.) 124 mph (est.) 124 mph (est.)
Drag Coefficient 0.31 Cd 0.28 Cd 0.29 Cd 0.27 Cd 0.27 Cd
Curb Weight 5,765 lbs. 5,787 lbs. 5,798 lbs. 5,798 lbs. 5,798 lbs.
EPA Vary 226 mi. 225 mi. 285 mi. 296 mi. 300 mi.

As you may see, regardless of including extra battery density, the brand new 2024 Q8 e-tron fashions weigh practically the identical as their predecessors whereas delivering vary enhancements. In talking with Audi senior supervisor of product planning, Anthony Garbis, I realized that the automaker lowered the quantity of Cobalt in its battery chemistry. Mixed with some swapping of parts for lighter supplies, Audi delivered a extra highly effective EV with out including pointless weight.

The revamped battery chemistry additionally contributes to raised cost curves (Audi says it’s going to maintain 100 kW at 80% earlier than winding down) and can allow the brand new Q8 e-tron fashions to succeed in increased charging charges (170 kW vs. 150 kWh beforehand), thus lowering cost occasions to 31 minutes to replenish from 10-80%.

However sufficient about specs, let’s discuss my expertise driving two variations of the brand new Q8 e-tron.

Adjustments to the inside and exterior, plus US pricing

As I reported final fall, the daybreak of the brand new age of the Q8 e-tron contains some new badge types that can set the tone for the luxurious model’s future because it continues to go all-electric.

The very first thing you’ll discover within the photos above is the brand new 2D rings brand on a redesigned single-frame entrance grill, that includes extra environment friendly apertures that assist ship an air curtain across the EV. This improve within the air curtain considerably contributes to the decrease drag coefficients detailed above.

I additionally snapped some photos of Audi’s new laser-etched mannequin badge on every e-tron’s B-pillar. Going ahead, should you’re ever confused about what mannequin you’re , simply verify the door!

Inside, the Q8 e-tron ought to be very acquainted to earlier drivers. The format and design are largely the identical, though Audi has built-in sustainable supplies extra. For instance, the greyish inlet on the sprint (see beneath) is comprised of recycled PET bottles. I like to see stuff like this, nevertheless it must occur extra!

Actual fast, let’s get pricing out of the best way so you already know what you’re coping with as a shopper:

2024 Mannequin Yr Trim Premium Premium Plus Status Launch Version
(2024 MY solely)
Q8 e-tron $74,400 $78,800 $84,800 $87,550
Q8 Sportback e-tron $77,800 $82,200 $88,200 $91,950

Fantastic. Onto the drive.

Driving the Audi Q8 e-tron quattro and Sportback e-tron

My drive consisted of a few hours alongside the coast in a white Audi Q8 Sportback S-Line e-tron (sure, it’s as robust to kind as it’s to say), adopted by a stunning afternoon drive by the Redwoods in a Plasma Blue Metallic Q8 e-tron quattro (SUV).

I’ve pushed loads of electrical SUVs and crossovers, some by the identical coastal roads I skilled final week, however this experience felt totally different in plenty of methods. After I turned out of the resort, I naturally gunned it to see what the Sportback e-tron may do. Admittedly, I used to be underwhelmed by its giddy-up, however I may instantly inform this was a fairly heavy automobile.

Though its 0-60 time is nothing to drool over, the acceleration grew on me due to the general experience. It’s so easy and quiet that you just don’t even discover the acceleration. I discovered myself out of the blue going 25-30 mph over the pace restrict (no person likes a snitch) and not using a single hair on my neck standing up – it simply felt pure.

Since a few of our route went by spotty cell areas, we used Audi’s UX navigation for the route relatively than Apple CarPlay. That being mentioned, I linked to CarPlay wirelessly and solely had one concern – every time I obtained a textual content, the middle display screen would swap over to CarPlay, and I’d should faucet again to Audi navigation. Sort of annoying, however I had my subsequent two activates show in entrance of me because of the HUD, which was top-notch, in my view.

The haptic contact took me some time to get used on the middle display screen as, at first, I wasn’t tapping laborious sufficient for it to register. As soon as I obtained the hold of it, I nonetheless noticed some delays between the faucet, the haptic buzz, and the precise motion happening. This was not at all a deal breaker, however the software program may very well be optimized a bit for responsiveness.

The menu was simple to navigate, although I discovered the tap-through course of for sure menus a bit too labyrinthine, particularly whereas driving. I’d have preferred the drive mode menu to be a bit simpler to entry as I shifted by the modes usually to get the total expertise. Within the Q8 e-tron Sportback, I felt probably the most at dwelling in Auto Mode.

After I tried to whip round my first curve alongside the coast, I needed to metal myself for a second as a result of I got here in slightly sizzling for such a heavy EV. The Q8 e-tron is a sturdy gal, let me inform you. “Consolation and luxurious” is the secret right here, not observe information.

After I obtained into the Q8 e-tron SUV on the second half of the day, nonetheless, I used to be extra snug with the texture of the Audi and spent most of my 2+ hour journey again to base within the sporty Dynamic Mode. I had an absolute blast on this automobile, whisking by the attractive forest and round mountainsides – after I wasn’t caught behind an enormous motorhome, that’s.

It was right here that I felt Audi’s faster 14.6:1 steering ratio and stiffer entrance management arm bushings. Or possibly I’m simply saying that to sound cool, and really merely felt like knowledgeable driver for an Audi e-tron industrial, accelerating by turns and passing lame fuel pickups on any out there straightaway.

Both method, I used to be in my ingredient, and I used to be smiling.

Electrek’s take

Whereas this can be a new e-tron from a mannequin title standpoint, it’s not at all an entire revamp of final yr’s model. That being mentioned, there’s a lot to be enthusiastic about should you’re an Audi e-tron fan and also you’re available in the market for a brand new experience.

A very powerful change to notice, in my view, is the improve to the battery know-how. Delivering considerably increased power density in the identical dimensions, whereas providing shoppers extra vary and higher charging is a win for Audi’s meeting traces and its prospects.

Though it’s solely within the Q8 Sportback S-Line e-tron with the extremely bundle, having the ability to promote 300 miles of vary is big, particularly when you think about final yr’s mannequin topped out 75 miles shorter than that.

I’d argue that the common shopper will nonetheless need to see a fair increased vary to actually be enticed on the Q8 e-tron value level, however there are many different perks to sway the acquisition. All in all, anybody who’s a fan of Audi, particularly the unique Q8 goes to get pleasure from these up to date autos.

In the event you’re already driving an e-tron, you may not see sufficient totally different about it to improve simply but, except you’re searching for extra vary. Both method, the Q8 e-trons are additional proof that Audi is critical about EVs as its future and is continuous to innovate so as to try to give its prospects the easiest.

I’m trying ahead to seeing (and driving) what it comes up with subsequent.

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