First drive: 2019 Audi Q8 in Oman
Audi officially launched the Q8 in the GCC a few months ago as their new SUV flagship, with a drive around Omani mountains. Late to the game when it comes to “four-door coupe crossover” thingies, the Q8 vaguely follows the design theme of the ugly BMW X6 and the Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class Coupe models, but does it in a much better job of combining an SUV with a roof design similar to a coupe.
While it is not longer than the Q7, it is wider and lower. The new trademark big front grille, which will be the face of future Audi SUVs, definitely gives it a lot of presence. Looking from the side, you can sense the designers went for a more edgy look, rather than a curvy silhouette. The rear is a little more subtle with LED taillamps that runs across the tailgate. The Q8 rides on 21-inch wheels as standard, while our tester was fitted with the optional 22-inch alloys. It is arguably one of the better-looking entries in this segment.
Inside, the Q8 gets all the latest tech nannies which we have seen in the Audi A8. This includes the dual screen in the centre console — a 10.2-inch screen on top of a 8.6-inch unit. The upper screen controls all the features of the car, while the lower one is for the functions you use more often such as the a/c, radio and seat ventilation controls. Add to that, the entire instrument cluster is digital, where the layout is customisable as well.
There is an abundance of leather and soft touch materials on the upper section of the doors, the entire dashboard and centre console. Brushed metal pieces have been used around the cockpit to give it a properly premium feel. Like the A8, the Q8 interior design also seems more catered towards functionality rather than style. Rear legroom is good, while headroom is decent as well at the back. Space in the boot is about 605 litres.
Under the hood, the Q8 is powered by the same 3.0-litre supercharged V6 engine as the Q7, rated at 333 hp and 440 Nm of torque. Power is delivered via an 8-speed automatic transmission. Audi claims it can do the 0-100 kph run in about 5.6 seconds. Fuel economy is rated at around 7 litres/100 km (14.3 km/l), which is a bit optimistic.
The ride quality is very good, especially when equipped with the air suspension system. Add to that the four-wheel steering option, and you can really push it around the corners with some confidence. Understeer comes in gradually as you inch closer to the grip limits, so there is enough warning for you to back off the accelerator pedal. Still, impressive stuff from a car that weighs more than 2 tonnes.
We also did some light off-roading in the mountains. The suspension setting was switched to off-road mode which raises the car up to 25cm from the ground. There is no low-range gearing, so we’d stick closer to gravel trails and flattened beaches.
The Audi Q8 manages to get the balance right in terms of design, unlike the Mercedes-Benz GLE-Coupe which looks too egg-shaped and the BMW X6 where the proportions are all wrong. The chassis certainly seems capable of handling more power, so we should eventually see S and RS versions. The Q8 ticks all the right boxes, and finally gives Audi an alternative to the frumpy Q7 at the more upscale end of the premium SUV segment.
Check out the latest prices in the Audi Q8 buyer guide.
Photos by Audi Middle East.