South Africa

Audi Q8 shows its more aggressive updated self at IAA Munich

With the 2023 IAA Munich in full swing, Audi chose the Bavarian district’s showpiece to unveil the extensively updated Q8 and its performance offshoot, the SQ8, with the flagship RS Q8 expected at a later stage.

Imposing redesign

Set to be succeeded by the much delayed Q9 in 2025 as the Four Rings’ flagship SUV, the Q8’s first mid-life rework since its global premiere five years ago involves not only external revisions, but also a clampdown on some engine options in readiness for Audi becoming fully electric before 2030.

Externally, the adaptations are easy-to-spot and comprise a slimmer restyled Singleframe grille, redesigned front bumper and new alloy designs ranging from 21 to 23-inches.

ALSO READ: Diesel kicks Audi Q8 into the right shape

The front facia’s most prominent change has been to the light clusters which only feature new graphics, but can be specified with the Matrix Laser option that uses 24 laser LEDs to scan the road and becomes active at speeds above 70 km/h when on full beam.

Facelift Audi Q8 and SQ8 revealed
Sakhir Gold one of three new colours available. Image: Audi.

At the rear, Audi has been more subtle by equipping the Q8 with a new bumper and optional OLED light clusters connected by a LED light bar running the width of the tailgate.

On top of the Q8’s changes, enhanced further by the S line and black exterior packages, the SQ8 boasts larger intakes on the flanks of the bumper, complete with a honeycomb pattern, optional Audi Sport 21, 22 or 23-inch wheels and alloy-look detailing.

Finally, three new colours now feature on the list of hues available; Sakhir Gold, Chili Red and Ascari Blue.

Underneath and inside

Underneath, the MLB Evo platform, also used by the Q7, Bentley Bentayga, Lamborghini Urus, Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen Touareg, has not undergone any dimensional alternations,

Audi details updated Q8 and SQ8
Besides several new colours and finishes, the interior has not undergone any significant changes. Image: Audi.

Revisions though comprise a new electronic air suspension setup with continuous damping, improved standard steel springs, recalibrated electric power steering, availability of a torque vectoring differential and all-wheel steering system – the latter a standard fitting on the SQ8.

Inside, the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, the 8.6-inch climate control panel and 10.1-inch MMI infotainment system have all been retained, albeit with the Volkswagen Group’s latest MIB3 software integrated into the latter.

Facelift Audi Q8 and SQ8 revealed
S line seats in Valcona leather forms part of the S line package. Image: Audi.

A choice of no less than nine decorative inserts ranging from standard silver and aluminium, to fine grey ash wood and carbon twirl rounds the interior off.

Powerunit reduction

On the power front, the 4.0 TDI used in the European-market SQ8 has been dropped entirely and replaced by the bi-turbo 4.0 TFSI V8.

Somewhat surprisingly, the previous pair of plug-in hybrid 55 TFSI e and 60 TFSI e models have also been phased-out, along with the 45 TFSI that opened the range up.

Regardless of the displacement or cylinder count though, a 48-volt mild-hybrid system comes standard, along with an eight-speed Tiptronic gearbox. As before, all Q8 models are fitted with the quattro all-wheel-drive system from the off.

Audi details updated Q8 and SQ8
SQ8 has be had with silver frontal accents and up to 23-inch Audi Sport alloy wheels. Image: Audi.

Commencing the range in the absence of the 45 TFSI, the 55 TFSI is motivated by a 3.0 TFSI V6 producing 250kW/500Nm. The top speed is 250 km/h with Audi claiming a completion of the 0-100 km/h sprint in 5.6 seconds.

Now compliant with Euro 7 emissions regulations, the venerable 3.0 TDI continues to be specified in two states of tune; the 45 TDI outputting 170kW/500Nm and the 50 TDI rated at 210kW/600Nm.

Audi details updated Q8 and SQ8
SQ8 now derives power solely from the 4.0 TFSI engine. Image: Audi.

In terms of performance, the former will get from 0-100 km/h in 7.1 seconds before topping out at 226 km/h, while the latter will dispatch the benchmark sprint in 6.1 seconds before hitting a v-max of 241 km/h.

Completing the line-up, the twin-turbo V8 petrol in the SQ8 punches out 373kW/770Nm, which propels the most powerful Q8, until the arrival of the RS Q8, from 0-100 km/h in 4.1 seconds. As before, the top speed is limited to 250 km/h.

Confirmation soon

Already available for ordering in Europe with production once again taking place at the Bratislava plant in Slovakia alongside the Q7 and Touareg, pricing in Germany kicks-off at €86 700 (R1 786 622) and tops-out at €119 500 (R2 462 530) for the SQ8.

For now, South African availability remains unknown, but expect approval to be given in due course with sales likely to start either at the end of the year or in early 2024.

NOW READ: Audi Q8 is a ‘luxury lounge’ on wheels