Audi’s first EV in India was the e-tron which they launched in 2021 and this actually went on to become one of the highest selling luxury EVs in our market. The practicality of an SUV, the high-tech cabin, Audi’s snob value and the high range meant a lot of buyers in the 1 Cr+ segment lapped up this car as they wanted something different from the usual SUVs and sedans. Now, Audi has updated the e-tron and given it a mid-life update and with that, the vehicle also gets the Q8 prefix.
Exteriors – The Q8 e-tron is available in two body styles – SUV and Sportback. What are the changes on the outside? The Q8 e-tron gets redesigned front & rear bumpers, a tweaked grille, new 2D Audi logo, revised Matrix LED lamps and I guess that’s about it. Fundamentally, the design remains the same and these minor enhancements do their job well to make the car look fresh. The vehicle also gets new DRLs running across the width of the car below the bonnet.
Audi has provided charging ports on both sides of the vehicle. There are two design packs on offer – High Gloss Styling Pack & All Black Styling pack, and the red Sportback that you see in these photos has the latter installed. The Q8 e-tron gets massive 255/55/20 Graphite Grey tyres.
Interiors – The cabin remains largely the same as before save for revised colour themes for the dashboard and upholstery. It is a very neat layout in typical Audi style and the parts do feel very rich, especially the upholstery. Audi is offering Valcona and Milano leather/leatherette seats and the front seats get ventilation and heating functions. The front seats also get a massage function which we used extensively on the Sportback but it wasn’t available on our SUV that we tested.
The seats are extremely comfortable for sure. The cushioning is a little firm but over long drives you do feel very good in the cabin of this car. The front seats are power adjustable with a memory function and 4-way lumbar support. The rear seats are also nice that way. Leg room is identical on the SUV and Sportback but the former has a lot more headroom compared to the latter. The latter is tilted a little more towards sportiness and has a smaller boot too.
The vehicle is quite feature rich. There’s a Bang & Olufsen audio system with 16-speakers generating a max output of 705 W. The sound clarity is crystal clear and even the screen feels great to use. In fact, this car has three big screens – one each for the infotainment, AC controls and Virtual Cockpit! Apart from that, the Q8 e-tron gets an air aromatisation feature which basically lets you get some pleasant aroma in the cabin with a choice of two perfumes and four intensity levels.
Performance – The Audi Q8 e-tron gets a 114 kWh battery now (earlier it was 95) which makes it the largest battery on an EV in India (EQS 53 AMG is 107.4 kWh). The e-tron churns out 408 HP on boost and 664 Nm of torque. 0-100 km/hr takes 5.6 seconds making it 0.1 secs quicker than before. Enough of the numbers, how does it actually feel to drive?
It feels really good to drive. Instantaneous torque just like every other EV, very responsive performance and the different driving modes do well to alter the car’s behaviour. You get Off-Road, Allroad, Comfort, Eco, Dynamic and Individual driving modes that tweak the performance, steering feel and suspension firmness. When you drive the car back to back in different modes, you actually feel the difference and I honestly loved the suspension feel in Dynamic mode. It was stiff as per my liking but yes the motors felt a little too responsive in that mode and range also goes down a little.
Which is why, Individual mode works well because as the name suggests, you can individually tweak the parameters and thus tone down the performance a little while keeping the suspension stiff. The steering isn’t thriving with feedback but it is well-weighted while also feeling light enough at city speeds as well as in Comfort mode. The car does handle really well and it has amazing body control. The ride quality is also quite good thanks to the air suspension. The ride height can be raised by as much as 50 mm if need be and it also goes down by 20 mm at high speeds. The rear axle is where most of the power is diverted to, and when the need arises the front axle gets activated.
Charging Time & Range – The claimed range under the WLTP cycle is 582 kms for the SUV and 600 kms for the Sportback. Realistically, a range of 400-450 kms is good enough which makes it equivalent to that of a petrol-powered vehicle. With a standard 11 kW charger, it takes 8.5 hours to recharge the car while with a 22 kW charger it takes around 4.5 hours. With a 170 kW DC fast charger, the Q8 e-tron goes from 10-80% in as less as 31 mins.
Verdict – The e-tron was a very likeable EV earlier and now with the latest update, the Q8 e-tron indeed is a very nice package for the price. Prices will be announced in August but we are expecting a tag of Rs. 1.40 Crore (On-Road, Mumbai). At that price, you do have a lot of petrol and diesel options too but I guess someone buying a car so expensive would already have a few ICE cars in the garage and trying something different like the Q8 e-tron would come with a lot of bragging rights too!