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Audi Q8 E-tron 2024 review

Curt Dupriez
Deputy editor

Audi’s first-ever electric model gets a facelift, but expected improvements in range and efficiency have come up short in the newly named if very familiar Q8 E-Tron 

Good points

  • Luxo-performance manners
  • Flexible drivability
  • Solid refinement
  • Broader regen settings
  • Free servicing/free Chargefox
  • Fine all-round manners

Needs work

  • Disappointing peak range
  • Huge power consumption
  • Little key improvement
  • Blunted dynamics
  • Suspect cost options
  • Doesn’t move Audi’s EV game forward

Audi has used E-tron branding on all manner of vehicles and power units: 2012’s diesel-hybrid R18 Le Mans racecar, 2013’s all-electric R8 rear-drive supercar prototype, 2016’s PHEV A3 hatchback…

So calling its first electric production model sold in Oz – in the form of a flagship large luxury SUV – simply E-tron as late in the game as 2020 was perhaps a little, erm, ill conceived.

Fast forward to late last year and Ingolstadt announced that the Q8 prefix would be applied to the E-tron branding for clarity in the MY23 facelift – unsurprising given the previous model electric SUV sat alongside E-tron GT hyper sedan and, soon enough, will be joined by a Q4 E-tron midsize EV SUV in the brand’s electric model lineup.

As reported in late 2022, the main highlight of the new Q8 E-tron centred around a 114kWh gross (106kWh usable) larger battery for improved range and charging performance over the old 95kWh gross unit, complemented by other tweaks such as revised styling, optimised drive and improved aerodynamics.

The net gain? An increase of “a WLTP range of over 400km” for the old E-tron 55 trim to “up to 582km for the SUV and up to 600km for the Sportback…WLTP” according to Audi’s global communication, as reported by Chasing Cars at the time. You’ve got to love progress.

The newly named Q8 E-tron 55 now lands in Australia in late 2023 with freshened styling, including a more three-dimensional front end design and extended Singleframe ‘mask’ with new “air curtains”, as well as a horizontal blade motif in the rear styling.

Aerodynamic tweaks in the exterior form’s finer details, including clever front wheel air deflectors, drops the drag coefficient from 0.28 to 0.27 for the wagon and from 0.26 to 0.24 for the Sportback body styles – notable gains for this electric Audi.

Noteworthy, too, is Audi revised branding: the front and rear features new two-dimensional four-ring badging and laser-etched Audi logos in the B-pillars, plus a new red strake logo to designate S-line on rear body fascia.

The facelift’s subtle massaging continues under the skin. While outputs remains unchanged at 300kW and 664Nm combined – and ‘boost’ mode actuated – outputs from the dual-electric motors in the quattro drive system, the rear motor graduates from 12 to 14 coils in order to, Audi says, draw less energy to generate a given level of torque and to lower consumption…

Understandably, there were a few raised eyebrows at the Australian launch of the Q8 E-tron 55 range when it was announced that peak driving range wasn’t up to 600km or even 582km, but instead up to a far shorter 454km for any of the three variants now available in two body styles: the entry-level wagon, the Launch Edition wagon and a sole Sportback version.

Losing up to 146km of peak driving range between German unveiling and Australian showroom really is, needless to say, quite significant. Especially given this is, at best, a little more than ten percent more range than the outgoing “over 400km” capable E-tron 55.

Audi’s statement for this discrepancy is given in our verdict for this car.

In fact, that (up to) 146km discrepancy really does represent the difference between Audi moving the electric game forward and, frankly, merely kicking the can along with this update. At least through the lens of range-anxious buyers in this wide-ranging sunburnt nation of ours.

Elsewhere, there’s higher charging performance given that peak DC fast-charging is up 20kW to 170kW, for a claimed 31-minute charge from 10 to 80 percent. However, peak AC charging is capped at just 7.2kW single phase…unless, that is, you stump up an extra $6900 for the three-phase 22kW AC charging bundle.

Where Audi Australia launched 2020’s E-tron with six variants spread across base 50 and higher-spec 55 trims levels, the Q8 E-tron facelift trims the lineup down to the three aforementioned variants, all in 55 spec.

In doing so, pricing has effectively gone up for the remaining three flavours, with Q8 E-tron 55 wagon at $153,900 (up $7800), and $165,900 for both the wagon-based 55 Launch Edition (up $6900 over old First Edition) and 55 Sportback (up $8800 over old Sportback).

Our time with the Q8 E-tron focussed primarily on the Launch Edition wagon.

What are the Q8 E-tron 55’s features and options for the price?

The entry Q8 E-tron 55 ($153,900) eschews sporty S-line stylisms and includes:

  • 20-inch wheels with 255mm tyres
  • Adaptive air suspension
  • LED headlights with rear dynamic indicators
  • Power folding, heated mirrors
  • Powered tailgate
  • 12.3-inch digital HD cockpit 
  • Dual-zone climate control
  • 10.1-inch touchscreen media
  • 8.6-inch haptic control screen
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto
  • 360-degree camera
  • DAB+
  • Satnav
  • Wireless smartphone charger
  • Head-up display
  • Leatherette standard heated seats
  • 7.2kW AC charging system

Pictured: the entry-level wagon variant, Launch Edition seen in red

The Launch Edition ($165,900) adds the follow features over and above the regular wagon:

  • 21-inch 5-arm aero wheels with 265mm tyres
  • S line styling inside and out
  • Black styling highlights 
  • Brushed alloy interior inlays
  • Sports paddleshifter wheel design
  • S Sport seats in Valcona leather
  • Electric wheel adjustment
  • 30-colour ambient lighting
  • Black headlining
  • Stainless steel pedals

The Sportback ($165,900) largely mirrors the fundamental Launch Edition features set, if featuring:

  • Silver brightwork
  • Regular Sport seats in Valcona leather
  • Four-zone climate control

Both the Launch Edition and Sportback are available with a 22-inch wheel option ($1600) that also adds a ‘sport’ variation of the adaptive air suspension that allows variable settings and a 13mm lower-riding ‘dynamic’ mode.

Other range-wide options include premium paint ($2300), a 22kW three-phase AC charging pack ($6900), Matrix LED headlights ($3300), rear privacy glass ($1050) and a panoramic glass roof ($3400) to name a few added indulgences.   

How does the Q8 E-tron 55 drive?

Audi’s chosen Victorian drive route for the Q8 E-tron launch essentially loops from Melbourne Airport north via back roads to the regional gold fields towards the New South Wales border.

It’s not urban, it’s not really highway, and there’s not much change to dial up the adaptive cruise control or to play with new one-pedal regenerative mode the carmaker has added to this revision.

It is a steady and sometimes twisty jaunt that’s interesting if somewhat blurry when it comes to assessing real-world consumption and range capabilities.

We kick off with 425km of range projection from 106kWh of usable battery capacity and the 2520kg Launch Edition five-door – 30kg portlier than the old wagon – quickly climbs beyond its advertised 25.6kWh consumption and settles around the 30kWh mark for the mostly leisurely country jaunt.

Early signs are that it is thirsty alright, and no more frugal than the old (just) E-tron.

The two electric motors dole out 265kW and 561Nm to the electric all wheel drive setup in most of its six available drive modes and we settle into a choice of comfort for sheer balance of pace and range.

Here, thrust is cooperative and assertive if far from head snapping, though not to a fault – progression under throttle is pliant and cooperative, making it easy to adjust velocity to suit the fast-changing route.

Audi has put some effort into sharpening the driver connection to the front end: a quick rack ratio here, some revisions to architecture such bearings there. The union between the tiller and front wheels is fine enough, though any improvements old-to-new are pretty subtle.

The wider 265mm tyres of the Launch Edition do drum up decent lateral grip and reasonably enthusiastic point, but the mass of 2.5 tonnes is ever present and it does take quite a few tighter corners to drum up the brave pills to really attack the apex hard.

Sure enough, it hooks through hard, but any transition across sharp lumps or broken surfaces sets the considerable lateral inertia free and you sense that once the Q8 E-tron gets loose it takes a long moment to regain it cornering composure.

Sure, it’s no sportscar. But with the overt S line trimmings and the ability to summon very heady pace, it’s worth assessing the dynamic capabilities this full-sized luxury SUV can muster as measure of the confidence it instills in the driver for grander touring.

I can be punted with vigour, if not really beyond reasonable clip if you’re having to allow a window of responsible safety.

This is the standard adaptive air suspension, not the sport-infused tune paired with the optional 22-inch wheels, so there might be more spice available if a buyer wishes to splurge a little extra. But even on these low-profile 21s, the ride and handling is balanced pretty well indeed.

Frankly, the suspension musters up adequate body control and this does affect outright compliance, if mostly with nothing more than some noticeable fussing from the chassis across some of country Victoria’s famously crook and coarse sealed surfaces.

At one point, we catch a phantom dip that rebounds so hard the rear tyres lift off for a long moment – serious air – but there’s no crashing through the suspension or uncomfortable landing. The score? Audi 1, dodgy Victorian road maintenance 0.

Sport mode uncorks the full 300kW and 664Nm for its high-power boost mode, dropping its advertised 6.5sec 0-100km/h to a thoroughly rapid 5.6sec claim. Again, the sheer weight takes some edge off its willingness to launch out of the hole though it is quick.

But you don’t need maximum boost mode attack to witness consumption climb into the mid-30kWh-per-hundred range. And even driven gingerly it seems to take specific conditions, some of it clearly downhill, for the electric drive system to approach its 25.6kWh combined claim.

Why? The jury is out. There are plenty of electric vehicles out there with comparable levels of high power with leaner consumption, many of which sit on dedicated EV platforms. Perhaps developing this electric Audi from an ICE-derived MLB Evo architecture presents certain efficiency shortcomings – something sheer battery capacity cannot overcome.

What is the Q8 E-tron 55’s interior and tech like?

Audi has been well on top of its game when it comes to cabin execution, particularly on flagship models such as its electric full-sized luxury SUV. There was certainly not much broken with the Q8 E-tron so not a whole lot to fix with this facelift.

So the update ports over the 12.3-inch full digital HD cockpit effect for the driver and continues with the two screens stacked conveniently for front-row occupants, with a 10.1-inch screen for multimedia atop a smaller 8.6-inch haptic touchscreen for various vehicle adjustment if primarily used for climate control settings. A handy head-up display is standard.

Mostly, the touch screen operations are logical and mostly intuitive. Especially the haptic feedback climate control adjustment. What is a bit of a pain is that Audi persists with a rather clumsy interface for switching drive modes, though there’s a smattering of physical shortcut controls for essentials such as audio volume.

Downright weird is the drive selector – a strange T-shaped object with a thumb toggle for switching between drive and reverse – and below the elbow is a cubby that has a handy vertical ‘pinched’ phone slot with inductive charging.

The wagon versions get dual-zone climate control, while the Sportback exclusively fits four-zone. The former being a bit of an oddity when far less exclusive offerings like the Volkswagen Golf hatchback come with three-zones of adjustability.

However, in terms of outright space, it’s really the conventional wagon body style of the Launch Edition that really offers proper four-adult accommodation, because row two is almost modest roomy for a large luxury SUV and the Sportback’s sloping roof aft of the B-pillar does impact headroom more.

Interestingly, all three Q8 E-tron variants get different front seating. We get to sample each, with the regular wagon bringing comfy and relaxed standard pews, the Sportback bringing regular sport-contoured buckets and the Launch Edition exclusively fitting more form fitting S Sport chairs with quilted stitching for its leather upholstery.

Seating in all three are very nice, heated and offer electric lumbar adjustment. And the sumptuous Valcona leather offered in the pricier two versions does go some way in justifying the premium spend.

Some features, such as the rear privacy, really ought to be standard fitment for a flagship model from a premium carmaker. Thankfully, though, Audi’s awful virtual mirrors are an option, and one that doesn’t come recommended for anything other than mere showboating factor.

The rear seating is decently comfy enough, with shapely contouring in the outboard seating locations. The mixed material use throughout the cabin that, in overall effect, verges on overly fussy and over-styled extends right through to the second row.

Audi quotes 569 litres of boot space for the wagon and a slightly slimmer 528L for the Sportback, where you lose some volume under the rear hatch glass. Handily, there’s ample room for your charge cables either under the boot floor or at the 62-litre frunk in the SUV’s nose.

Rear seating in 40:20:40 split-folding and it’s quick and easy to convert either body style into a reasonably practical two-seater for those trips to Ikea. A collapsible temporary spare wheel is fitted as standard.

Is the Q8 E-tron 55 a safe car?

The original E-tron was awarded a five-star rating by ANCAP that dates back to 2019. This carries over to the facelifted E-tron update. It scored 91 percent for adult occupant and 88 percent for child occupant protection, 71 percent for vulnerable road user protection and 78 percent for safety assist.

As standard, the Q8 E-Tron range fits:

  • Adaptive cruise control with stop and go
  • Lane keeping assist
  • All-speed AEB with (up to 85km/h) pedestrian and cyclist detection
  • Junction crossing assist
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Rear cross traffic assist
  • Exit warning
  • Turn assist

The Q8 E-tron fits front and rear parking sensors and a 360-degree camera system as standard. However, the high-spec Matrix LED headlights are only offered as a cost option on all three variants. 

What are the Q8 E-tron 55’s ownership costs?

Audi has decided to reboot some of the sweeteners first offered with the old E-Tron. This includes six years of Chargefox DC fast charging and six years of complementary servicing, where intervals occur every 24 months or 30,000km.

Standard home charger installation (via Jetcharge) is also complimentary.

Warranty is a typical five years of unlimited-kilometre coverage, with eight years and 160,000kms of battery coverage

As mentioned, the Q8 E-tron 55 remains a thirsty beast, barely scraping as low as the mid 25kWh and often firmly planted in the low to mid 30kWh region.

Chasing Cars intends to conduct an official range and charging test through its standardised process to determine a more accurate consumption and driving range figure.

Audi says that using the (now 20kW higher) 170kW DC fast charging, a 10 to 80 percent charge in “roughly” 31 minutes.

AC charging? Audi global states 11 hours and 30 mins for 11kW three-phase. However, the Aussie spec only gets 7.2kW single-phase. And Audi Australia doesn’t publish a 7.2kW AC charging time….

The optional ($6900) three-phase 22kW charger bundle offers recharge times of around six hours, Audi says.

The honest verdict on the Q8 E-tron 55

It’s fair to say that the newly monikered Q8 E-tron, at least in this 55 grade, isn’t quite the evolutionary strike forward we were expecting from a marque that only got its electric feet wet in 2018 and aims, within its fully electric “Vorsprung 2030” transformation, hopes to have 20 electric models to market in the next three years to really help spearhead an exciting new phase for the company.

The former E-Tron and now Q8 E-tron really remains early days in its technical DNA, still spun off the MLB Evo internal combustion when, shortly, it will be joined by the midsize Q4 E-Tron with dedicated MEB electric architecture and, one expects, a technical leap forward towards Ingolstadt’s electrified targets.

So perhaps it’s unrealistic to expect much in the way of range and recharging efficiency gains with what was and is inevitably a facelift and not much more than that.

But the fact is that the Audi mothership made some impressive claims about this E-tron update when details first surfaced late last year. And now with hoops firmly in Aussie terra firma, the local specification fails to come close to matching the original bold-faced range numbers.

Up to 600km of range was originally promised. And a 454km reality isn’t nearly good enough, not when rivals such as the BMW iX promise up to 620km of driving range.

We asked Audi Australia about the range discrepancy and a spokesperson responded with the following.

“There are different approaches to indicative range when comparing German-spec cars to those homologated for Australia,” Audi Australia says.

“While we do have the same car available here in Australia, our WLTP range is based on a figure given to us based on a heavily-optioned and large-wheeled vehicle in terms of specification, and [this] is applied across the range, regardless of the vehicles’ actual wheel size, options and body style.

“This allows for our customers to understand the most conservative figure in regards to range and is quoted based on a worse-case scenario.

“The process for indicting range in this way currently applies to the Australian market, which is why you will notice a difference in the quoted range between the German launch and the Australian launch [communication].”

In short, Australia doesn’t get neutered specification, but crunches numbers differently for a different outcome. Whatever the case, pinning down the Q8 55 E-tron real-world range will be revealed when we get one through the Chasing Cars garage to put it through our EV testing regime.

The Q8 E-Tron 55 Launch Edition is a fine car. But it brings only marginal change, benefit and improvement over the old E-Tron.

Despite the larger battery, it’s no quicker, its range isn’t meaningfully longer, it’s not efficient enough measured against the broader EV landscape and brings little new to the table. Outside, perhaps, of a name change and the price rises.

Apart from the massaged exterior styling, updated wheel designs and some fresh corporate branding, there’s not all that much to rave nor anything all that newsworthy to report.

Overall rating
Overall rating
Running costs
Overall rating
Running costs
Approximate on‑road price Including registration and government charges

Key specs (as tested)

300kW at 0rpm
664Nm at 0rpm
Power to weight ratio
Fuel type
Fuel capacity
0 litres
All Wheel Drive
Single gear
5006 mm
1995 mm
1691 mm
Unoccupied weight
2520 kg

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