Audi Q8 e-tron price, range, electric SUV, features, performance and design – Introduction

First report: With a nip and tuck and a larger battery, the Audi e-tron – now the Q8 e-tron – is back in our long-term garage.

Electric cars are no strangers to the Autocar India long-term garage, but with the MG Comet, Mercedes-Benz EQB and the Audi Q8 e-tron, we’re kind of electric-heavy right now. Which meant that despite me generally avoiding them, for a few days last month, I ended up with the keys to the Audi.

The only electric SUV in its class with an under-floor spare; luggage carrying capacity is completely unaffected.

It’s not that I don’t like EVs; the issue is that I stay 35km away from the office and my apartment complex has no charging facility. However, I wasn’t worried at all about having to use the Q8 e-tron over a weekend. About a year and a half ago, I did use the previous e-tron and it comfortably managed my weekend running of around 200km with its 95kWh battery pack, using up to 45 percent of the charge. So the updated e-tron would manage another weekend stint comfortably with its larger 114kWh battery pack. And it did; office to home and back, plus two days of roaming around Mumbai’s suburbs meant I did 140 kilometres and used up 36 percent of the charge, which would equate to a range of about 390 kilometres. But that’s not the story. What is, is just how ‘normal’ it felt. 

Inside handle broken; need to lower glass and use outside handle to exit.

There were no questions from the family about the range and how far we could go. I didn’t have one eye on the battery gauge, and while picking up my mother-in-law from the airport, I didn’t need to haul out a spare tyre. You see, every other electric SUV in this class has the spare tyre plonked right in the middle of the boot. The Q8 e-tron is the only one with its spare tucked neatly under the boot floor, leaving you with a nice, flat and open space for luggage. I must mention that it’s also only one of two SUVs in this class that also has a frunk, and it’s nice and large, and easily stores the charging cable. So, my mother-in-law’s two cabin bags posed no challenges to the Audi’s 569-litre boot whatsoever.

This is one of just two eSUVs in the class with front storage; handy for storing cables neatly.

Also not challenged was the 4-zone climate control system. December in Mumbai is a relatively cooler month and the Q8 e-tron’s AC cooled the cabin quickly and easily. And it was here that I found a rather handy feature. I generally set a temperature cooler than my wife does, but my feet tend to feel cold. In the Q8 e-tron, what’s nice is that you can set a warmer – or cooler, if you like – footwell temperature; that’s a really neat little detail to have. 

Handy centre console but exposed wallet, phones, cables et al, look untidy.

My daughter liked the car too, but she did complain saying it makes her feel a tiny bit queasy. That’s down to the air springs, but a shift to the Dynamic setting for the suspension helped to a large extent. While this tightens up body control, it also lowers the ride height and you must remember this when going over our crazy-sized speed breakers. Most were not a problem, but two particularly nasty ones did graze the belly. And while we’re talking annoyances, the front passenger door handle has stopped working from the inside, and the door can only be opened from the outside, which means lowering the window to open the door. We will have this checked out soon. 

Footwell temperature can be adjusted separately; handy to keep feet warm.

That aside, the Q8 e-tron has been simply superb, doing everything asked of it and, as I mentioned earlier, in a straightforward and normal fashion. There’s nothing really to consciously think about; not the range for everyday city life, not the luggage space even for an airport run, not even some overtly complicated menus and ‘EV’ gimmicks like having to choose which artificial sounds you’d like. It’s like a USB drive; a handy plug-and-go device. Perhaps I’ll hold on to its keys a bit longer.

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