Audi launched its SQ8 in Europe in 2018 with a high-performance twin-turbo V8 diesel engine – an unusual choice. But from 2021, Audi has decided to ditch diesel and replace it with a gasoline V8, for reasons that we can only assume will have been driven by the words’ emissions’ and ‘ regulations ”.
So while our opinion of diesel has always been skeptical, the reality of trying to thread another gasoline variant between RSQ8 above and standard gasoline TFSI Q8 below is a task that inevitably sees an overlap in specifications and, most importantly, prices. But did Audi find an ideal compromise in the process?
Engine, transmission and 0-60 times
The SQ8’s 3996cc petrol V8 is the same unit found in the premium and luxury brands of the VAG, with Bentley Continental GT at Lamborghini Urus and Porsche Panamera. By itself, the V8 engine has all the usual technological inclusions such as variable valve timing for the exhaust and intake valves, cylinder deactivation, two twin-scroll turbochargers placed in the “ V ” of the engine and active engine mounts.
Due to astute moderation, the SQ8’s 500 hp output is 92 hp (or 100 perfect metric horsepower) less than that of the RSQ8, but produced 500 rpm lower in the rev band. More tellingly, the SQ8’s 568 lb-ft of torque brings it even closer to its RS sibling, measuring just 22 lb-ft deep, again peaking slightly lower in the 2000 rpm range and standing stable up to 5,000 rpm. As such, the SQ8’s 0-62mph time is only 0.3 seconds slower than its RS sibling at 4.1 seconds, and will continue at the same top speed of 155mph.
Power is sent to an eight-speed automatic transmission and then distributed to all four wheels via a center differential. Top-of-the-line Vorsprung models take the ride even further with the use of a torque-vectoring rear differential, which is able to overdrive the power of each wheel for easier cornering or lock up to improve traction in slippery conditions. .
All SQ8s use the same combination of air springs and adaptive dampers, but Vorsprung models go one step further with the application of an active anti-roll system. This works by keeping the roll bars uncoupled in a horizontal pipe, then twisting them in opposite directions to counteract lateral body movements.
Rear-wheel steering is standard across the range as well, while 400mm front and 350mm cast iron brake discs are the only brake set available – the huge carbon options- 440mm ceramic from Audi are reserved for the RSQ8. All UK cars are also fitted with 22 inch wheels wrapped in Continental SportContact 6 SUV rubber.
With so much gear on board, it’s no surprise to see a curb weight of 2245kg, which certainly places it at the heaviest end of the class. But, unlike the sleek SUV-class standard of a sloping roofline, the Q8’s slightly more boxy aesthetic results in good interior space, not to mention a much more resolute design than the BMW X6 or GLE Coupé.
How does it feel to drive?
The SQ8 immediately feels solid, superbly constructed, with excellent materials inside and real weight both visually and in its tactility. There is a refined consistency in the weight of all the controls – the steering, the accelerator pedal, even the action of the gear selector, they all feel organized and considered.
Still, the SQ8 lacks the ability to drop the weight to reveal a cleverly crafted chassis underneath. Instead, its weight only becomes more bulky and inconvenient the faster you drive. Although the steering is well weighted, there isn’t much feel, and precision on the steering rack is compromised by the increasing steering effects of the rear wheels. It can help with low speed maneuvering, but at the same time you lose confidence in your speed – a big factor when driving something with so much mass on a rough road.
On Vorsprung models is added the Active Anti-Roll System, which does its job of keeping the body level, but then removes another layer of chassis feel. The effect is neither subtlety nor smoothness, but the SQ8 feels more like it’s rolling on the road, with the wheels and tires being the biggest bumps or trespassers.
The brakes also seem slightly undercooked for something with a curb weight on the wrong side of 2.2 tons, because if the initial stopping power is strong enough, unless you brake in a straight line, the mass can pick up. body control – anti-roll bars active or not.
Continue on smoother tarmac, reduce the pace and the SQ8 finds a much more comfortable flow with British roads, which is also when the excellent V8 engine begins to take over the driving experience, teeming with a deep, subtle, yet extremely satisfying resonance. . When stretched, the SQ8 doesn’t feel particularly fast, but with the ability to stay on the throttle for longer periods without seeing three digits appear on the virtual cockpit, it gives you more access to the alluring character. of the V8.
But with the loss of the previous SQ8’s diesel engine and the extra touring capacity it got from its 10mpg improvement, the new gasoline-powered SQ8 loses its distinction as the only slightly more expensive but ultimately better-performing RSQ8.
Awards and rivals
Pricing for the SQ8 starts at £ 84,560 and includes a large list of standard equipment highlighted by heated and power sports seats with high-quality leather upholstery, Audi’s virtual cockpit and dual-screen setup. MMI Touch, Matrix LED headlights, rear camera and electric tailgate. The £ 88,455 Black Edition only adds subtle upgrades including a different wheel option, blackened exterior trim, four-zone climate control and shiny oak inlays in the cabin.
But upgrade to the Vorsprung model and you’ll earn nearly £ 20,000 more at £ 107,060, adding everything from the SQ8’s technical arsenal such as active anti-roll bars and sports rear differential to a panoramic roof, inlays. carbon fiber, ventilated seats, a Bang & Olufsen sound system … the list goes on.
Bmw, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche all have their interpretations of the SUV coupe somewhere, with only the Merc being upgraded to a six-cylinder in its GLE53 coupe. BMW’s X6 M50i is priced at just over £ 81,000, but comes with a more standard kit and a more powerful 523bhp twin-turbo V8. Porsche Cayenne GTS (£ 88,340) has less horsepower, but is the more determined to drive of the four.