Tested: Audi Q8 stands tall among premium SUVs

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Johannesburg – Another test car, another SUV, or so it seems when we get to review cars.

As sedans continue to take a back seat to the ever-increasing trend of buyers shifting behind the wheel of SUVs, so manufacturers continue to add various shapes, sizes and designs into the mix. Witness brands like Porsche, Lamborghini, Rolls-Royce and Alfa Romeo pushing the SUV agenda very successfully, mind you.

Audi have been at it for a while now with their Q range and last year April launched the range-topping Q8 which has been met with some enthusiasm by customers locally.

Spending a couple of days w ith an Orca black 55 TFSI quattro tiptronic it’s easy to see why discerning buyers go for this particular four ring option. Granted, our unit was fitted with almost every possible option including the S Line Black package which came to an extra R281 000 and tipped the price at just under an eye-watering R1.7 million.

No matter which way you look at it, that’s a lot of money in anyone’s book and you’ll have a difficult time justifying that when you get home with your new wheels.

Even without all the additions though, it’s a striking car to look at and turned a good number of heads wherever it went. In the metal it squats neatly with distinctive lines and quattro blisters above the wheel arches which on the test unit were fitted with 22 inch rubber.

Open the frameless doors and it’s a bit like walking in to one of those fancy houses showcased in the Rich and Famous. Very upmarket to be sure, but there’s a bit too much black for my liking. It’s offset with strips of metal and there’s always the myriad of ambient lighting options to choose from.

The centre is dominated by two stacked touchscreens which essentially take the need for any manual-type switch, dial or button away but it will take some time to master so that it becomes second nature and you don’t have to take your eyes off the road.

Thank goodness there’s a dial to set the volume on the Bang & Olufsen sound system.

The upper 10.1 inch display controls the infotainment and navigation system while the lower 8.6 inch screen is loaded with the heating and aircon, a host of other functions and text input software.

Another pleasant executive touch comes in the form of a rear touchscreen allowing passengers to set their own temperatures.

All those looks, tech and top class finishes in the test car were powered by a 3.0 litre turbocharged V6 petrol mill pushing out 250kW and 500Nm which Audi says will get you to 100km/* in 5.9 seconds, so it’s certainly no slouch.

There’s also a 45TDI option with a V6 turbo diesel producing 183kW and 600Nm.

It’s driven forward by an eight-speed tiptronic transmission driving all four wheels.

The V6 is a willing customer and picks up speed elegantly rather than screaming away with tyres burning, but even though it’s fast enough to get you well over the speed limit and stay there for hours, this is much more a vehicle for long drives and comfortable cruising with kids or friends parking off in the three movable rear seats.

Make no mistake, in Sport mode it will play along nicely with enough steering feedback, including the optional rear wheel steering (up to 5 degrees) and adaptive air suspension making it willing and eager to head in to and out of corners without too much trouble. Audi, however, have some much better options if that’s the game you want to play.

VERDICT

The Audi Q8 is a worthy flagship in the SUV range and as far as a combination of executive and family transport is is concerned it slides seamlessly between the two.

Loaded with technology and safety features even in standard guise, the Q8 stands tall among the SUV brigade without trying to be all things to all people.

 

By Willem van de Putte

Credit: www.iol.co.za

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