Cars are changing. The way we buy, drive, and judge them is transitioning to fit the new era of electrification. As such, brands need to change, and Audi making its electrified lineup a bit less confusing to consumers is a good place to start. Up first? Its refreshed and renamed Q8 and SQ8 E-Tron.
For 2024, Audi is working to revise its electrified vehicle naming strategy, and thank goodness, because it's not exactly easy to discern what separates one E-Tron from the others by the name alone. The E-Tron nameplate by itself is officially dead. Instead, the refreshed version will formally sport the Q8 badging, complete with a performance-oriented S-variant called the SQ8, and a Sportback version of each. But don't get it confused: there's still a regular ol' Q8 and SQ8 in Audi's lineup, the E-Tron version that we're talking about here specifically refers to the battery-powered variant. (Key word above is: working. We're not sure they've arrived at a good solution yet.)
Let's talk about the most important thing first: range. Audi has reworked the new E-Tron Q8 and SQ8 to get a significant jump in the number of miles that the SUV can travel between recharging. The base Q8 (measured on the WLTP cycle with its 95-kilowatt-hour battery pack) will get around 362 miles and its Sportback counterpart a whopping 373 miles. The more powerful SQ8 will get fewer miles to a charge despite its larger 114-kWh pack. The SUV will see around 305 miles per charge, while the Sportback is estimated to get around 314 miles. For comparison, the outgoing versions of the E-Tron and E-Tron S Sportback were rated for 280 and 233 miles of range, respectively.
Audi says that the increase in range is thanks to a redesigned rear-axle motor with a higher number of stator coils, effectively increasing the number of coil turns from 12 to 14. This allows the motor to become more efficient and generate a higher magnetic field. Audi also changed the SUV's torque vectoring and altered several areas of vehicle aerodynamics (hence its familiar shape, albeit a new face) which dropped its overall drag coefficient. The result is an impressive range increase of nearly 33% in the base Q8.
To top off the increase in range, Audi the charging performance has increased as well. The SQ8 in particular can charge from 10 to 80% in just 31 minutes, so as long as you can find a working charger capable of pushing that power in ideal conditions.
What hasn't changed, however, is the power generated under the hood (metaphorically, of course). The SQ8 is still equipped with Audi's powerful tri-motor setup, boasting the same 496 horsepower and 718 pound-feet of torque. The base Q8 with a dual-motor powertrain will produce a maximum of 402 horsepower and 490 pound-feet of torque in "boost mode."
Audi says that the new Q8 and SQ8 will hit U.S. showrooms in April 2023. U.S. pricing has yet to be announced, however, pricing in Audi's home market of Germany will start around $75,000. Audi has yet to reveal official U.S. specs or EPA-rated range.
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