Audi has had a great run in India with their SUVs – the Q3, Q5 & Q7 in particular – and it’s now bringing in an all-new sporty flagship. But is the Q8 worthy?
Finding a niche in the automotive market is not easy, but the good folks at Audi seem to excel at it. From the RS6 to the RS7, Audi seems to have created a successful system of finding niches with some fantastic cars. With the new Q8 that you see on these pages, Audi hopes to create the same magic in the Coupé-SUV segment.
STYLING IT RIGHT
The Coupé-SUV segment has really picked up the pace over the past decade. For one, SUVs are incredibly popular today, both in India and worldwide. And two, more-and-more brands are now pushing the boundaries and experimenting with the idea of an SUV to expand their products in the SUV segment.
The Q8 is a product of a more aggressive school of thought – one where the design dictates the product. It’s no surprise then that Audi’s designers have given the car a massive grille, which instantly demands your attention, and a sloping roofline, which renders the Q8 with a sporty touch.
The highlights of the Q8’s design, though, are the flared wheel arches that hark back to that of the Audi Quattro, reminding you of its lineage, and the large taillight, which gives the Q8 a distinct identity. Also, the frameless doors of the Q8 are a nice touch and work to the same effect.
The interior is also very distinctive, with its three different digital display screens. The instrument cluster is, of course, dominated by Audi’s Virtual Cockpit – which is a delight to use – but the rest of the infotainment system and controls are also accessed via touchscreens.
Now, I’m no fan of touchscreen controls – I think that they make the driver take their eyes off the road, something I think is not a great idea. So, my natural aversion to touchscreen controls remains. Sure, with their haptic feedback, these touchscreens are easy to use and are quite responsive too. But, to be honest, I still prefer good old-fashioned buttons.
Of course, like any other modern Audi, the Q8 comes fully equipped, although the exact specifications for the India model are still being decided. The Bang & Olufsen audio system of our test car ensured that we had a lot of fun on the road. Pair that with the fantastic overall quality of the car, and the Q8 is, without a doubt, a delightful place to spend time in.
Certain aspects of the Q8 deserve specific applause, such as the fantastic LED Matrix headlights, which are not only super bright but also fantastic in their operation. I truly hope that this feature is retained in the India-spec model.
The refinement of the drivetrain is also superb. Its 3.0-litre TFSI engine generates 335bhp, which means that it’s more than quick enough for everyday use. Paired with the standard all-wheel-drive system, the drivetrain allows you to effortlessly gain momentum – the 0 – 100km/h sprint is achieved in under 6 seconds.
Our test ride, on Dubai’s flawless roads, was very comfortable. However, we still need to test this aspect in Indian conditions once the car reaches our shores in the middle of January.
EXPLORING A NICHE
To be honest, the Coupé-SUV segment is quite a niche in the Indian market. And the Q8, as Audi’s flagship SUV, is aiming to reset the benchmarks of the segment. With its great quality, fantastic ride and refinement, the Q8 seems to be well equipped to challenge the best in the segment.
Of course, a diesel version of the Q8 would’ve made things more interesting – something that Audi India is currently reluctant to offer. But, still, the fact that the ultra-hot and uber fast RS Q8 is confirmed for India in 2020 should be enough to spice things up in the segment and give its cousin, the Lamborghini Urus, some sleepless nights.
After a couple of years of disappointing sales, in 2020, Audi India will certainly claw back some lost ground with a line-up of brand-new vehicles, including the A6, Q8, RS Q8 and, the much anticipated, Q3. What this means is that Indian customers have a lot to look forward to, in terms of new Audi products thanks to a renewed range. And the Q8 seems to be a perfect vehicle to begin Audi India’s journey to reclaim its once revered market-leading status.
- Distinctive design
- Excellent quality
- No diesel engines
X-Factor: If you’re looking to stand out in the crowd, the Audi Q8 is your vehicle of choice!