Audi Q8 e-tron

Just two years have passed since Audi introduced the e-tron to the Indian market, although it has been available internationally since 2019. In this short span, the EV landscape has evolved significantly. While traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles may have slowed down in development, the EV industry continues to move at breakneck speed. 

This pace of change places immense pressure on automakers to stay at the forefront of innovation. Audi has risen to this challenge by not only giving its first dedicated EV, the e-tron, a significant makeover but also by rebranding it as the Q8 e-tron. 

This name change signifies its position as the flagship in Audi’s rapidly expanding EV lineup, which includes the upcoming Q6 e-tron and the acclaimed Q4 e-tron (though not yet available in India).

But what sets this new Q8 e-tron apart from its predecessor, beyond the name change? It’s not just about branding; the Q8 e-tron brings styling updates, improved aerodynamics, enhanced features, and a more substantial 114kWh battery to the table. In India, you also have the option of the ‘50′ trim with a smaller 95kWh battery pack, which still surpasses the previous e-tron’s 71kWh capacity. 

However, it’s worth noting that, unlike Audi’s newer generation of EVs, the Q8 e-tron continues to share its platform with ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) models like the Q7 and Porsche Cayenne. This design choice results in some compromises, such as added weight and less interior space compared to EVs built from the ground up.


The previous e-tron aimed to provide a familiar, Audi-like design, ensuring a smooth transition for luxury car buyers moving to EVs. However, competitors like BMW have taken a bolder approach with distinctive EV styling, exemplified by the iX, which has become the best-selling luxury electric SUV in India.

The Q8 e-tron embraces this shift towards a more futuristic look while retaining its Audi DNA. Notable changes include a striking new mesh grille with black elements that extend to the sides, creating the illusion of a wider stance. A prominent light bar spans the grille and connects to the stunning LED Matrix headlights, making for a distinctive front profile. 

The highlight, however, is the introduction of the all-new 2D Audi logo, a departure from the traditional chrome emblem. This logo, finished in solid white or light grey, sits prominently on a base featuring the iconic four interlocking rings.

Further design updates include redesigned front and rear bumpers with gloss black accents and tasteful ‘e-tron’ branding. The Q8 badge proudly adorns the tailgate, and upon closer inspection of the blacked-out B-pillar, you’ll discover subtle ‘Audi’ and ‘Q8 e-tron quattro’ etchings. For those seeking an added touch of sophistication, self-levelling Audi logos on the wheels are available.

Audi emphasizes that these design updates extend beyond mere aesthetics; they have a tangible impact on aerodynamics and reduce drag. Minor tweaks to the wheel well design optimize airflow, while shutters integrated behind the grille serve dual functions, opening for cooling when needed and closing to enhance aerodynamic performance. 

It’s worth noting that international versions of the Q8 e-tron feature cameras instead of traditional wing mirrors, though this feature is not yet available in the Indian market due to regulatory complexities. Despite these updates, the Q8 e-tron maintains a profile that leans more towards a traditional luxury SUV than a radical EV, a deliberate choice by Audi.

Variety Of Choices: The Q8 e-tron Sportback

For those seeking a more distinctive design, the Q8 e-tron Sportback offers an alternative. This variant seamlessly blends a sleek coupe-style roofline with the Q8 e-tron’s elevated stance, offering a unique blend of style and practicality. This diversity provides customers with two distinct body styles to cater to varying tastes.

Interior Comfort And Space

As you step into the Q8 e-tron’s cabin, you’ll immediately notice its commitment to maintaining the same high standards of quality and comfort as its predecessor. 

Audi’s dedication to impeccable build quality is evident in every aspect, from the substantial and tactile drive selector to the responsive haptic touchscreen. 

The choice of materials, which includes premium plastics, glossy piano black surfaces, and tastefully brushed metal finishes, reinforces the overall sense of luxury.

One of the Q8 e-tron’s enduring strengths lies in its practical interior design. Generous door bins, abundant storage compartments, the convenience of four USB type-C charging ports (including two for rear-seat passengers), exceptionally comfortable seating, and the expansive panoramic roof collectively create an inviting and functional cabin environment. 

An important addition, notably absent in the previous e-tron, is the 360-degree camera, enhancing overall convenience.

The driving position has been thoughtfully engineered to provide superb all-around visibility and ample headroom adjustment, accommodating drivers of various statures. Even shorter drivers will appreciate the generous seat height adjustment, elevating them above the beltline for a commanding view of the road.

In the rear, passenger comfort remains uncompromised despite the presence of the substantial 114kWh battery. This thoughtful design ensures that all passengers can enjoy extended journeys in comfort.

However, it’s worth noting that the middle-seat passenger may experience slightly compromised legroom due to the centre console positioned between the front seats. Additionally, the Sportback variant, with its sleeker roofline, offers slightly less headroom compared to the SUV configuration, a factor that may be relevant for taller occupants.

In terms of cargo space, the SUV configuration excels, offering a spacious boot with a generous 569 litres of capacity, outperforming the Sportback by an additional 41 litres. Furthermore, a convenient 62-litre front trunk (frunk) provides valuable supplementary storage for charging cables and smaller items.

Tech And Infotainment: A Step Behind

One area where the Q8 e-tron falls short is onboard technology, which feels a generation behind the competition. Audi’s ‘virtual cockpit,’ once a benchmark for digital instrument clusters, now lags in terms of graphics and functionality compared to its counterparts.

The infotainment and climate control systems are separated into two screens, a setup that requires drivers to momentarily divert their attention from the road when adjusting the air conditioning on the lower 8.6-inch screen. 

Both screens are prone to collecting fingerprints, and the 10.1-inch infotainment display lacks the resolution expected from a luxury EV in 2023.

Surprisingly, wireless Apple CarPlay remains absent in a luxury EV launched in this era, necessitating the use of a cable for connectivity. Despite these tech shortcomings, the Q8 e-tron’s cabin impresses with its comfort and refinement, offering a haven for occupants.

Performance And Drive

When you take the wheel of the Q8 e-tron, you’ll immediately notice its tranquil driving experience. It’s refined, smooth, and remarkably quiet, creating a serene atmosphere that shields you from the outside world. 

The vehicle’s substantial weight, evident in the steering, pedals, and overall build, imparts a commanding presence that excels on the road. The ride quality is exceptional, thanks to the air suspension that cushions occupants from uneven surfaces and rough edges.

With electric motors at both the front and rear axles, capable of delivering 4×4 performance, and the flexibility to raise the suspension for increased ground clearance, the Q8 e-tron ventures into territory where few other EVs dare to tread. Its height-adjustable suspension can reach a maximum ground clearance of 226mm, which proves to be quite valuable on Indian roads.

Acceleration in the Q8 e-tron is steady and controlled, lacking the sudden bursts found in some high-end EVs. The brakes offer a seamless blend of regenerative and friction braking, contributing to the overall refinement of the driving experience.

One noteworthy enhancement in the Q8 e-tron is its improved regenerative braking system, which extends its range. With the larger 114kWh battery, the Q8 e-tron achieves an impressive range of 582km on the WLTP cycle. 

Meanwhile, the Sportback version, with its sleeker profile, manages a remarkable 600km on a single charge. This extended range makes the Q8 e-tron an excellent choice for long-distance journeys, particularly on highways.

Improved Handling

Audi has made significant improvements to the Q8 e-tron’s steering system by introducing a taller and quicker steering ratio. This adjustment effectively eliminates the dead zone around the straight-ahead position, resulting in enhanced handling capabilities. The Q8 e-tron now exhibits surprising agility, defying its weight, especially when manoeuvring through corners.

The updated steering system instils confidence, particularly at higher speeds, making it easier to navigate through multi-lane traffic. However, it’s important to note that even in Dynamic Mode, the sportiest of the three drive modes, the Q8 e-tron still displays some body roll when pushed hard on winding roads. While it offers an engaging driving experience, it’s not intended for aggressive cornering, as its substantial weight becomes noticeable.

Audi’s transformation of the Q8 e-tron may not be a radical departure, but it solidifies its position in the luxury EV market, especially during a period of intensifying competition. 

While it may lack the flashy features and cutting-edge technology found in some competitors, the Q8 e-tron compensates with its exceptional build quality, practicality, and remarkable comfort. 

Its ability to effortlessly cover long distances stands out, appealing to those who prioritize a tranquil driving experience over extravagant displays of electric power.

The Q8 e-tron’s unassuming charm may not loudly proclaim its electric identity, but it quietly serves as a testament to Audi’s dedication to a well-rounded luxury EV. 

In a world where electric vehicles are becoming increasingly common, this understated refinement offers a refreshing choice for those who value substance over style—a reminder that not all EVs need to be attention-grabbers.

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