A Sportier, Racy Version of the Sensible Audi Q7
When it comes to car names, especially from German manufacturers, the bigger the number means, the bigger the car. Let's take Audi's SUV line up for example. It starts off with cute Q2 small SUV, then moves up to the Q3 family SUV, next up the larger Q5 SUV and then the massive seven seater Q7 luxury SUV. And now you have Audi's flagship SUV, the Q8, you probably have a good idea on where we are going with this. However, though the all-new Q8 sits at the top of Audi's SUV range in terms of stature, it is, in fact, a little bit smaller than the Q7 on which it's based and has 2 fewer seats. But what you do get are big arches, fantastic features of lines, funky new LED lighting and some bulging wheel arches. Clearly in no sense a boring looking machine and as you'd expect from Audi, the Q8 is equipped with its Quattro AWD (with standard locking centre diff), standard air suspension, a slick eight-speed gearbox and a 340bhp 55 TSI V6 engine. What's more is that the Q8comes with HD Matrix LED Lighting which is animated and really cool to look at, leather, climate control, electric assist and Audi's beautifully laid out multi-screen Virtual Cockpit.
So what's it like on the move? Well, the Q8's 3.0-Liter V6 engine also happens to be a mild hybrid, meaning its engine can turn off for a limited amount of time while cruising to boost efficiency, it's a system that works so well that you can hardly even notice what's happening. As a bonus, it makes the annoying stop-start system hardly noticeable and smoother than those in its competitor cars. Handling is equally surprising, as the Q8 handles body-roll through corners with minimal difficulty and with the Quattro four-wheel drive ensuring no shortage of traction either. Adaptive suspension is standard and even with the standard 21-inch wheels, the Q8 is never uncomfortable as the suspension doesn't crash or bang as you drive around in on or off the road, soaking up bumps with ease. You can select several different driving modes with 'Comfort' providing you with a soft cushiony ride to 'Dynamic' which is noticeably firmer and more responsive with a 40mm drop. There's also an off-road mode, which raises the suspension 50mm from Comfort/Standard position. Four-wheel steering is also available as an option. However, while it makes the car feel a bit sharper on turn in and a bit more stable at highway speeds, the biggest benefit is obviously a reduced turning circle.
Next, let's talk about the interior and yes, it's lovely, as you'd expect. Yes, the rich quilted leather in our test car is a bit like driving around in a posh millionaire's house, but the triple-wide-screened, high-def, virtual cockpit is something to brag about. It's clever and useful and there's a lot of thought put into it. It might be a bit intimidating at first, but you soon get used to it once you understand how easy it is to work with. You can customise what information is displayed directly in front of you, thanks to its drag-and-drop feature. (Why doesn't every car manufacturer offer this?) You can move an icon on the screen by pushing down on it for a second, just like on a smartphone or tablet and set your favourites. Potential buyers who seek smartphone integration won't be disappointed as well since Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility come as standard. The electrically adjustable front seats with adjustable lumbar support and an extendable base are excellent and provide good long-distance comfort. There are acres of space in the back and a decent sized boot. Visibility all around is excellent, even in the back despite the sloping roofline and is helped further by a reversing camera which is standard, along with a heated windscreen. While a sloping roofline can do wonders for a car's looks, it's usually bad news for rear headroom space. However, the Q8 betters more than its rivals here. True, it's not as spacious as a Q7 but you don't buy a Q8 for that - it's just more practical and useful than you might think on the first impression. There is some useful storage compartment dotted around the centre console as well so that's another plus.
So is this a worthy flagship SUV from Audi? Yes, it is. Audi's big, aggressive Q8 is definitely an interesting and clever SUV. It's a complex car which feels initially as yet another fancy high-end car on big wheels but resolves into a very capable SUV that's more practical than looks would suggest. The styling is great and the interior is fantastic enough to make you feel as if you're in the Matrix and is definitely a class leader in terms of tech and gadgets. It's not a drivers car but it doesn't care about that since its a lot more than that. What it is, is an interesting, clever SUV from Audi with a side order of "WHOA". The Q8 is currently available in two options - the Q855 Prestige which starts off at BD33,950 and the Q8 Sport which starts off at BD41,990 which gives you an upgraded stereo, four-wheel steering and much more. However, we'd stick with Prestige since it offers almost everything that we'd like for our daily commute and some more.