Audi beat all of its main luxury competitors to the punch when it debuted the e-tron SUV back in 2018. Sure, the Tesla Model X had already been out for years at that point but I said luxury competitors, not rattle cans with broken doors. But Audi had an electric luxury SUV before BMW, Mercedes, Cadillac, Lexus, and Jaguar. However, there was an issue—it wasn’t very good.
When the Audi e-tron first launched, it was a great Audi SUV. It was good looking, had a great interior, was comfortable, smooth, quiet, and nice to drive. However, as an EV it was a bit crap. It wasn’t particularly quick and its range was lacking. Then the Mercedes EQ lineup and BMW’s iX debuted, all of which crushed the e-tron in terms of range and performance. Cadillac’s Lyriq came out too and really ruined Audi’s day.
Now, though, Audi gave it a facelift, more range, and a new name and, while still not perfect, the newly badged Audi Q8 e-tron looks to be a far more formidable opponent than the outgoing e-tron. For starter, its name is much better. The Audi e-tron was a terrible name because every electric Audi has e-tron in its name, so it became very confusing. However, calling it the Q8 e-tron makes it immediately recognizable.
It also gets more range. Whereas the previous Audi e-tron could barely muster 200 miles of real world range, the new Q8 e-tron is rated at just over 300 miles, which is about the same as the BMW iX. To get the extra range, Audi bumped up its battery size to 95 kWh (89 kWh net) to 114 kWh (106 kWh net) and optimized powertrain and software efficiency. So now it actually has a respectable range.
Power is basically the same. The standard car makes 406 horsepower, while the Audi SQ8 e-tron uses three electric motors to make 496 horsepower. But range stays pretty much the same between the regular Q8 e-tron and the high-performance SQ8, which is interesting. Audi also upped the charging speed to 170 kW, up from 150 kW.
Audi also gave the car some styling tweaks, such as a new grille surround, updated headlights, and updated taillights. Unfortunately, the interior looks exactly the same as before. Admittedly, it’s a great interior but, in this age of modern electric cars, it feels like an oversight to omit an update.
It will be interesting to see how the Audi Q8 e-tron stacks up against the BMW iX in a head-to-head comparison test.