2024 Audi Q8 Sportback 55 e-tron review

If the Audi Q8 e-tron is a little too conventional for you, the Q8 Sportback e-tron adds a bit more visual flair.

Audi’s take on the crossover coupe trend is a little more restrained than the likes of BMW and Mercedes-Benz, but the Q8 Sportback e-tron follows a familiar formula with its distinctive tapered rear roofline that’s more sedan than SUV.

Formerly known as the Audi e-tron Sportback, the new 2024 Audi Q8 Sportback e-tron features a revised naming structure to reaffirm its flagship status, and a range of subtle updates to improve on the formula laid down by its predecessor.

There are some very small changes to design elements like the front grille and bumpers, as well as Audi’s latest flat badging, while a much larger battery sits in the floor pan which affords substantially more range against official metrics – a key complaint of the old one.

It remains based on the VW Group’s MLB evo platform, which is a converted combustion and hybrid platform shared with everything from the A4 and Q5, through to the A8 and ICE-fired Q8, as well as a number of more boutique offerings like the Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus.

Having already reviewed the SUV-bodied version with the same drivetrain, our objective here is to see if the Sportback is the better offering and whether it justifies its $12,000 premium over the standard version.

Furthermore, how does it stack up against rival offerings on dedicated architectures – i.e. the BMW iX, Jaguar I-Pace, Lexus RZ, and Mercedes-Benz EQE SUV?

How does the Audi Q8 compare?

View a detailed breakdown of the Audi Q8 against similarly sized vehicles.

Audi Q8 cutout image

Audi

Q8

How much does the Audi Q8 e-tron cost?

Pricing for the Q8 Sportback 55 e-tron starts from $166,600 before on-road costs – $12,000 more than the 55 e-tron SUV.

2024 Audi Q8 e-tron pricing:

  • 2024 Audi Q8 55 e-tron quattro: $154,600
  • 2024 Audi Q8 Sportback 55 e-tron quattro: $166,600
  • 2024 Audi SQ8 e-tron: $173,600
  • 2024 Audi SQ8 Sportback e-tron: $180,600

Prices exclude on-road costs

To see how the Audi Q8 e-tron lines up against its rivals, check out our comparison tool.

What is the Audi Q8 e-tron like on the inside?

If you’re expecting any wholesale changes inside the Q8 e-tron compared to the old e-tron, don’t.

While it may not have changed much compared to the pre-facelift version, the e-ton debuted the current Audi interior design that has filtered out across the larger MLB evo-based models, and it still looks pretty fresh.

Dual touchscreens for infotainment and climate controls are stacked neatly in the dashboard and angled to the driver for better usability, and ahead of the driver is the excellent 12.3-inch Audi virtual cockpit. The displays are carried over from the pre-update e-tron but remain towards the top of the class for clarity, usability and response.

Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as Audi connect plus online services all feature as before, and all work as intended. You do get the odd dropout with smartphone mirroring in known interference points in Melbourne though.

Elsewhere, the cabin is familiar Audi and e-tron fare. Perceived quality is top notch, and there’s a sense of convention in a time where some rivals are going for showroom wow factor at the expense of ergonomics and tactility.

Bar some minor e-tron details like the toggle-style shift-by-wire selector and the free-standing effect to the virtual cockpit display housing, it all looks, feels and works just like any other larger Audi product.

There are strong links to the petrol- and diesel-powered Audi Q8, though they are still technically two different cars.

Our test car was fitted with the optional virtual mirrors package ($3500), which continues to divide opinion in terms of their form and function.

I’m don’t hate them like some of my colleagues do, but the door-mounted OLED displays that project the live camera feed take a bit of adjustment as you often need to look down or move your arms if they’re rested on the door tops…

The second row is suitably large too, given this car measures a massive 4915mm long on a 2928mm wheelbase. Its dimensions eclipse that of even the related Volkswagen Touareg (4889mm, 2888mm).

Space for adults behind adults is very good, so no need to stress about fitting two or three kids or teenagers back there – this is a full-size five-seater. The Sportback’s sloping roofline eats into the rear somewhat, but not enough to cause any major issues.

Rear amenities include directional air vents with two extra zones of climate control, net-type map pockets, a fold down centre armrest with cupholders, and bottle holders in the doors.

Interestingly, rear privacy glass remains relegated to the options list, to the tune of $1050. Want a sunroof? You’ll need to shell out an additional $3400. Tsk tsk

Behind the rear seats is a 528L boot (versus 569L for the SUV) which expands to 1567L with the rear seatbacks folded. While that may sound smallish for an SUV this size, it betters the BMW iX (500L-1750L) and Mercedes-Benz EQE SUV (520L-1675L) when the second row is in use.

Another interesting tick the Q8 e-tron gets is the inclusion of a ‘collapsible’ space saver spare wheel, where most other EVs only get tyre repair kits – handy to have on roadtrips…

What’s under the bonnet?

The Q8 Sportback e-tron is currently only available with the ’55’ drivetrain in Australia, if you discount the SQ8 performance version.

Model Q8 55 e-tron quattro
Drivetrain Dual-motor electric drive
System power 300kW
System torque 664Nm
Driven wheels All-wheel drive
Battery 114kWh (gross), 400V
0-100km/h 5.6 seconds (boost mode)
Top speed 200km/h
Claimed range 454km (WLTP)
Energy consumption (claimed) 25.6kWh/100km
Energy consumption (as tested) 24.5kWh/100km
Charging capacity (DC) 170kW
Charge time (10-80 per cent) 31 mins
Weight 2520kg (unladen)

How does the Audi Q8 e-tron drive?

The Q8 Sportback 55 e-tron drives very much like the Q8 55 e-tron Launch Edition I tested earlier this year.

While it has never had the range or performance of something out of the Tesla showroom, the Audi Q8 e-tron offers the same beautifully smooth drive and ride you get in an Audi Q7 or Q8 – and just happens to be electric.

Everything has been tuned for maximum comfort and refinement, and while the doughy throttle response won’t be to the tastes of those hungry for neck-snapping performance, it’s an effortless and wafty thing to live with day-to-day.

In its standard setting, the 55 e-tron doesn’t feel like it has 300kW and 664Nm under your right foot, probably because it’s only giving you about 75 per cent of that in Drive and you really need to plant your foot to get full power if you’re in any mode other than dynamic.

But, flick the selector past D into S and you see the ‘boost’ indicator light up on the virtual power meter, and you feel that added response as the Q8 e-tron gives you all of its electric might to shift its hefty 2.5-tonne mass.

I tried a few full-throttle moments on the freeway onramp with the transmission in S, and the 5.6-second 0-100km/h claim feels accurate – the 0-60km/h acceleration in particular really hits you in the back.

That’s not really what this car is about, anyway. If you want to drive it like a performance SUV you’re better off waiting for the SQ8 e-tron (from $173,800) which adds a third electric motor for system outputs of 370kW/973Nm, and cuts the 0-100 claim by 1.1 seconds (4.5s).

Simply put, you’re best to drive this Q8 e-tron like the V6 TDI versions of its stablemates, leaning on the massive reserves of torque and effortlessly wafting through daily duties but without the diesel clatter of its ICE equivalents.

Audi hasn’t bothered with synthesised drivetrain noises or anything in that vein, so progress is very smooth and ] quiet all the time. Like other MLB-based Audis, sound insulation from the outside world is also excellent, making for a very serene experience whether you’re navigating city traffic or touring on the open road.

The standard adaptive air suspension is typical Audi, in that it does a great job at ironing out the lumps and bumps of city life even on 21-inch Audi Sport alloy wheels (with 265/45 Bridgestone Alenza tyres); though also manages body control through twistier roads with aplomb.

You can raise and lower the ride height via the various Audi drive select modes, or independently if you need. And, the various modes adjust the damping accordingly. I particularly like the ‘allroad’ and ‘offroad’ modes where the Q8 will stand up on its tippy-toes and look quite purposeful when left in a gravel carpark, for example.

Pop it in efficiency and it sits on its guts for better aero, and you’ll quickly see a drop in the indicated energy consumption average readout, plus driving range will increase and usually not drop as quickly. This is one of the few EVs where I consistently saw better efficiency on the highway than in town, and it’s quite ‘thirsty’ in stop-start Melbourne traffic – there’s even a Range mode which limits top speed and ancillaries to add even more range.

At speed the Q8 e-tron is beautifully hushed from the outside world and quiet. I took the Sportback up to my grandparent’s home in Kilmore via the Hume and Northern Highways and my parents both commented on the comfort and serenity of the Q8’s cabin at speed. I was also impressed with its long-haul comfort.

The Q8 e-tron’s driver assistance suite is techy as you’d expect, with Audi’s adaptive cruise assist combining adaptive cruise and lane centring functions for semi-autonomous highway motoring – it’s one of the most user-friendly and natural-feeling systems of its type that I’ve tested.

Our test car’s optional virtual mirrors take some getting used to, and the small door-mounted displays could be bigger and offer better viewing angles. However, the way Audi has neatly integrated blind-spot warning and indicator lights into the edge of the OLED displays is quite fetching – they definitely an acquired taste.

Surround cameras make parking this big crossover much more manageable, though the parking sensors are intrusively loud. They almost shriek at you which is a tad off-putting, and are just plain annoying when making phone calls, for example.

Finally, while the standard LED headlights with auto high-beam are fine, it’s a bit of a pisstake that Audi is charging $170,000 for a technology flagship and keeping the trick Matrix LED headlights as a $3300 option – like really? Come on Audi…

What do you get?

For the additional spend, the Q8 Sportback 55 e-tron picks up some extra kit over the standard SUV version.

Q8 55 e-tron highlights:

Wheels, suspension, brakes, dynamics

  • 20-inch alloy wheels in 5-arm aero style
    • Graphite grey
    • Diamond-turned finish
    • 255/50 R20 tyres
  • Adaptive air suspension
  • Anti-theft wheel bolts, loose wheel detection
  • Collapsible temporary spare wheel
  • Audi drive select
    • 6 driving modes
  • e-quattro fully variable all-wheel drive

Exterior

  • LED headlights
  • LED daytime running lights
  • High beam assist
  • Rear dynamic indicators
  • Exterior mirrors
    • Heated, folding, auto-dimming
    • Memory function
    • Kerbside function, passenger side
  • High gloss styling package
    • Window slot trims in anodised aluminium
  • Roof rails in aluminium
  • Convenience key
    • Full keyless entry, start
  • Electric tailgate
    • Programmable height
    • Gesture control

Seating and upholstery

  • Standard front seats
  • Leatherette upholstery
  • Electric front seats incl. driver memory
    • 4-way lumbar support
  • Heated front seats
  • Dashboard upper, lower interior elements in leatherette
  • Inlays in brushed aluminium, dark

Interior

  • Auxiliary air-conditioning
    • Pre-conditioning via MMI or MyAudi app
  • Dual-zone climate control
  • Auto-dimming interior mirror
  • Door sill trims in aluminium
  • Interior lighting package
  • Leather steering wheel incl. shift paddles
  • Headlining in lunar silver fabric
  • Load sill protector in stainless steel
  • Comfort front centre armrest
    • Adjustable fore-aft position, angle
  • Floor mats front, rear
  • Storage and luggage compartment package
    • 2 x cupholders in rear centre armrest
    • Nets in luggage compartment

Infotainment

  • 12.3-inch Audi virtual cockpit
  • Audi smartphone interface
    • Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
    • Wired Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
  • Audi music interface
    • 2 x USB ports front (charge, data transfer)
    • 2 x USB ports rear (charge)
  • Audi phone box light
    • Qi wireless smartphone charger, 180W
  • Audi sound system
    • 10 speakers
    • 6-channel amplifier
    • 180 watt system output
  • DAB+ digital radio
  • Head-up display
  • Audi connect plus
    • 3-year subscription

Q8 Sportback 55 e-tron adds:

Wheels, suspension, brakes, dynamics

  • 21-inch Audi Sport alloy wheels
    • 10-spoke rotor design
    • Anthracite black
    • Gloss turned
    • 265/45 R21 tyres

Seating and upholstery

  • Sport front seats in Valcona leather

Interior

  • 4-zone climate control

Options

A range of packages and single item options are available on the Q8 e-tron.

22kW charger package: $6900

  • Increases vehicle charge capacity up to 22kW AC
  • Onboard charger up to 22kW AC
  • Audi connect charging system (up to 22kW)

22-inch Audi Sport alloy wheels: $1600

  • 6-segment spokes design
  • Black metallic
  • 265/40 R22 tyres
  • Adaptive air suspension sport

Matrix LED headlights: $3300

  • Front, rear dynamic indicators
  • Auto dynamic headlight range control
  • Motorway light
  • Dynamic light design

Virtual mirrors: $3500

  • OLED side touchscreens
  • Kerb view
  • Intersection view
  • Motorway view

Black exterior styling package: $1900 (55 e-tron)

  • Accents on Audi Singleframe
  • Trim strips on side windows
  • Side door inserts
  • Front, rear bumpers
  • Exterior mirror housings
  • Roof rails in black ($900 Sportback)

Privacy glass: $1050

Panoramic glass sunroof: $3400

Bang & Olufsen 3D Sound System: $1750

  • 16 speakers
  • 15-channel amplifier
  • 705 watt output

Is the Audi Q8 e-tron safe?

The Q8 e-tron retains the pre-facelift model’s five-star ANCAP safety rating, based on 2019 Euro NCAP tests.

It scored 91 per cent for adult occupant protection, 88 per cent for child occupant protection, 71 per cent for vulnerable road users, and 78 per cent for safety assist.

Standard safety features include:

  • 8 airbags
    • Dual front
    • Dual front-side
    • Dual rear-side
    • Dual side curtain
  • Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)
    • Vehicle to Vehicle (5-250km/h)
    • Pedestrian, cyclist detection (5-85km/h)
    • Turn assist
  • Adaptive drive assist
    • Adaptive cruise control with stop/go
    • Distance indicator
    • Traffic jam assist
    • Lane guidance assist
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Exit warning system
  • Front, rear parking sensors
  • 360-degree cameras
  • Collision avoidance assist (evasive steering)
  • Rear cross-traffic assist

How much does the Audi Q8 e-tron cost to run?

The Q8 e-tron is covered by Audi’s five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.

Buyers of the Q8 e-tron, like the e-tron before it, also score a six-year unlimited subscription to the Chargefox public charger network, as well as six years of complementary scheduled servicing and six years of roadside assistance.

That’s one of the best ownership programs in the business for electric vehicles, something that Mercedes-Benz has moved away from as an example. BMW offers five years of unlimited Chargefox charging with the iX.

CarExpert’s Take on the Audi Q8 e-tron

I’m not normally an SUV-coupe guy, but I was really taken by this Audi’s design.

The Q8 Sportback e-tron is the sort of restrained and understated class that the four-ringed marque is known for, and like its SUV-bodied sibling it offers all the aspects of big Audi SUV ownership with an electric drivetrain.

It’s big, it’s comfortable, it’s luxurious, it’s tech laden, and everything just… works. Even better, it gives you minimum six years of carefree ownership thanks to its complementary servicing and charging packages.

For those wanting an EV that feels familiar and fitting of legacy brands, the Audi really plays to that formula in a way a lot of other brands – mainstream or premium – haven’t always been able to manage.

However, my issues with the 55 e-tron SUV remain. It’s very inefficient relatively speaking, meaning that despite having such a big battery the range is pretty average – 400-450km of realistic driving range is just not enough for a vehicle quoting a massive 114kWh (gross) of battery capacity.

It’s also very expensive considering how long this vehicle has been on sale, and a number of feature items that really should be standard at this price point remain optional – Matrix LED headlights and the panoramic sunroof in particular.

Not only is the Sportback $12,000 more expensive than the equivalent SUV with minimal specification enhancements, it’s dearer than a number of key rivals with only competitive performance and below average driving range.

But range isn’t always everything, and if you’re a loyal Audi owner wanting to trade up to something within the family that also has an electric drivetrain, the Audi Q8 e-tron could be a seamless introduction to electrified motoring.

I’d also recommend having a test run of the virtual mirrors if you plan on ticking the option. They’re not to all tastes and will take a bit of getting used to.

Click the images for the gallery

MORE: Buy an Audi Q8 e-tron
MORE: Everything Audi Q8 e-tron

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