07/20/2023 UPDATE: This review has been updated with test results.
The Audi Q8 e-tron and its smooth-backed sibling, the Q8 e-tron Sportback, enter 2024 with a new name, more range, more efficient batteries, better aerodynamics, and faster charging. The mechanical changes address customer concerns about range and performance, while the name change—from just-plain e-tron to Q8 e-tron—is to give buyers a better sense of where the big two-row SUV sits in the brand’s lineup of EV and ICE offerings. Like the gas-powered Q8, the Q8 e-tron sits at the top of the SUV range, a roomy cruiser ready for glamorous day trips or making day-to-day errands feel glamorous. The base model starts at $75,595, and the Sportback Launch Edition we drove, with the dark-chrome S line trim, orange-piped leather interior, and Prestige trim features, rings in at $95,395 with options.
Q8 e-tron Range and Charging Times
The dark chrome and orange details are hints that the Q8 e-tron is a luxury SUV with a touch of sporty flair. It gets a bit more flair for 2024, with both a redesigned grille and headlights that highlight its slightly wider body. The styling changes also reduce drag, achieved through new wheel designs, shutters in the nose that can open for cooling and close for smooth sailing, and bodywork around the wheel wells that channels the wind. The improved aerodynamics also let the air also pass by with barely a whisper of wind noise, even on the highway. That’s backed up by the numbers. We measured an interior sound level of 64 decibels at 70 mph, only two decibels more than the famously quiet (and much more expensive) Rolls-Royce Cullinan.
The Audi’s efficiency improves, but not just from the aero updates. The Q8 uses two motors as before, and for 2024, the rear motor gets extra windings that allow it to create a stronger magnetic field from the same incoming electricity. The result is more torque and reduced energy consumption. Consequently, our 2024 Q8 Sportback’s EPA rating of 87 MPGe combined (84 city/90 highway) represent significant increases over last year’s Sportback rating of 78 combined (77 city/78 highway). We were unable to conduct our steady-state 75-mph highway test, but our test sample averaged 69 MPGe in more aggressive circumstances.
Couple the wind-cheating and efficient motors with the Q8’s higher-capacity battery (106.0 kWh compared with the outgoing 86.5-kWh pack), and it adds up to a significant increase in range. The 2024 Q8 e-tron earns an EPA-estimated 285 miles for the standard version, 296 miles for a Sportback like ours, and 300 miles for the optional Ultra package and its 19-inch wheels and tires. That’s much better range than the 2023 e-tron, which was rated at 225 to 226 miles.
Recharging times have also improved. The 2024 Q8 can now take in 170 kilowatts (up from 150 kilowatts) at a DC fast-charger and should be able to go from an almost-empty 10 percent battery to a back-in-action 80 percent full in around 31 minutes, according to Audi. For Level 2 home charging, the standard 9.6-kW charger will refill the battery overnight (in a claimed 13 hours), while the optional 19.2-kW setup on our test car (an $1850 upgrade) can do it in half that time if the 240-volt charger can deliver 80 amps of current. Even if you’re not set up to take full advantage, the option also adds a convenient second 240-volt charge port on the passenger’s side for flexibility.
Driving the Q8 e-tron
We have to admit we weren’t doing charging math while behind the wheel of the Q8 e-tron. In fact, we were somewhat startled to look down after a glorious run through the dappled light of a Northern California redwood forest and realize we had about 40 miles of range left. It’s easy to lose track of how far you’ve gone because the Q8 is so pleasant to drive. It’s quick, with a combined 402 horses from its two motors, but not neck-snappingly so. From a stoplight, a foot to the floor would get you to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds (according to our test results), which is middling acceleration by EV standards. And yet it strikes us as just the right amount of power for an SUV of this size—not so fast that you’re backing off in a panic if you get a little heavy-shoed, but plenty torquey enough to power out of curves and confidently merge into fast-moving traffic. A zip from 50 mph to 70 mph won’t take more than three seconds, so you’ll easily leave slower traffic in the rearview.
Changes to the Q8 e-tron’s steering and suspension improve the driving experience. A quicker ratio of 14.6:1 instead of the previous 15.8:1 results in a more responsive wheel. The front suspension gets stiffer bushings, and the adaptive air springs, which offer 3.0 inches of height adjustment, soak up bumps and ruts with aplomb. Along with the suspension settings, the Q8 offers seven different drive modes, which alter ride height, accelerator response, steering feel, stability-control programming, and power delivery. Brake-energy regen can be adjusted via paddles on the steering wheel, and the most aggressive setting will just about bring the car to a complete stop. The brake feel is fantastic, with no grabby spots in the pedal travel as the Q8 transitions from regen to friction braking. On the test track, the Q8 came to a halt from 70 mph in 163 feet, without a hint of brake fade.
As is often the case on California’s Highway 1, we had to stop several times due to road construction. In the Q8 e-tron Prestige, with its massaging seats, the delay afforded the opportunity to kick back and admire the drifting coastal fog as it floated gently over the panoramic glass roof. Well, during the second stop, we were able to do this. The first was spent delving through the extensive menus in the 10.1-inch upper display screen to figure out how to turn off the various lane-keeping beeps. For the record, it’s in both the settings menu and on the end of the turn-signal stalk.
The Q8 is screen-heavy, with a second display for climate controls below the main infotainment screen. There’s also screen-based instrumentation and, in the Prestige trim we drove, a head-up display. The Q8’s interior is much like the exterior, with a design that could be more radical but certainly won’t upset anyone. The center-console layout doesn’t make the best use of space for storage, with cupholders crammed up against the shifter and the vertical phone slot, but there is a left-side drawer in the dash that’s perfect for parking-garage tickets and secret snacks. Human space is excellent—the seats are comfortable both front and rear, even in the sloped-roof Sportback.
Electric vehicles and SUVs lend themselves to comfort and luxury. Audi was wise to recognize that and not attempt to make the Q8 too focused on handling or acceleration. The improved range means less worry about recharging, allowing drivers to relax and enjoy the smooth, quiet ride.
2024 Audi Q8 e-tron Sportback S Line
Vehicle Type: front- and rear-motor, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback
Base/As Tested: $78,995/$95,990
Options: Prestige package (head-up display, digital matrix LED headlights, leather-trimmed dash and console, Bang & Olufsen 3D premium audio, top-view 360-degree camera system, soft-close doors, ventilated and massaging front seats, front passenger’s seat memory and power lumbar, heated rear seats, wireless phone charging, park assist plus, dual-pane acoustic side-door glass, rear-door manual sunshades), $10,400; Launch Edition (22-inch wheels with summer tires, Launch Edition trim), $3750; AC charging package (19.2-kW onboard charger, second AC charge port on passenger’s side), $1850; Daytona Gray Pearl Effect paint, $595; rear side airbags, $400
Front Motor: induction AC, 189 hp, 228 lb-ft
Rear Motor: induction AC, 231 hp, 262 lb-ft
Combined Power: 402 hp
Combined Torque: 490 lb-ft
Battery Pack: liquid-cooled lithium-ion, 106.0 kWh
Onboard Charger: 19.2 kW
Peak DC Fast-Charge Rate: 170 kW
Transmissions, F/R: direct-drive
Suspension, F/R: multilink/multilink
Brakes, F/R: 15.7-in vented disc/13.8-in vented disc
Tires: Hankook Ventus S1 Evo3 EV
265/40R-22 106H Extra Load AO sound absorber
Wheelbase: 115.1 in
Length: 193.5 in
Width: 76.3 in
Height: 65.1 in
Passenger Volume, F/R: 53/49 ft3
Cargo Volume, Behind F/R: 55/27 ft3
Frunk Volume: 2 ft3
Curb Weight: 5962 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 5.2 sec
100 mph: 13.2 sec
1/4-Mile: 13.8 sec @ 102 mph
Results above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.
Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 5.3 sec
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 2.3 sec
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 3.0 sec
Top Speed (gov ltd): 124 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 163 ft
Braking, 100–0 mph: 325 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.91 g
C/D FUEL ECONOMY AND CHARGING
Observed: 69 MPGe
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 87/84/90 MPGe
Range: 296 mi
Senior Editor, Features
Like a sleeper agent activated late in the game, Elana Scherr didn’t know her calling at a young age. Like many girls, she planned to be a vet-astronaut-artist, and came closest to that last one by attending UCLA art school. She painted images of cars, but did not own one. Elana reluctantly got a driver’s license at age 21 and discovered that she not only loved cars and wanted to drive them, but that other people loved cars and wanted to read about them, which meant somebody had to write about them. Since receiving activation codes, Elana has written for numerous car magazines and websites, covering classics, car culture, technology, motorsports, and new-car reviews.