New Audi Q8 e-tron arrives as the brand’s reinvented flagship electric SUV

The all-electric Audi e-tron SUV has been given the Q8 nameplate as part of a mid-life refresh

Evolution improves the breed, and that’s exactly what Audi is doing with its e-tron electric SUV, treating the car to major technology updates, more subtle styling changes and an all-new name, as part of a mid-life refresh.

The e-tron SUV becomes the Q8 e-tron, with the new car still available in a choice of two bodystyles – the regular SUV and the swoopier Sportback model – as well as with three powertrain options. These Q8 e-tron models go on sale this month, with prices from around £69,000 and deliveries commencing in February next year.

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The entry-level Q8 e-tron 50 features an upgraded 95kWh battery with up to 305 miles of range for the regular SUV and a claimed 313 miles for the more aerodynamic Sportback. The Q8 e-tron 55 and Q8 e-tron S both use a larger 114kWh battery. For the 55 model this delivers up to 361 miles in the SUV and 372 miles in the Sportback, while the hot SQ8 e-tron does up to 306 or 318 miles for the SUV or Sportback versions respectively. This represents an increase of more than 80 miles over its e-tron S predecessor.

The greater efficiency has been achieved by optimising battery cell chemistry, Audi says, along with more advanced energy-management software and packaging of the cells, plus tweaks to the rear motor windings. There are now 14 coils instead of 12, allowing the motor to generate more torque from the same electrical current.

Outputs stand at 335bhp and 664Nm of torque in the 50 models for a best 0-62mph time of 6.0 seconds. The 55 model serves up the same torque output, while power increases to 402bhp, dropping the 0-62mph time to 5.6 seconds. The hotter S variants feature a three-motor set-up that delivers 496bhp and 973Nm of torque, with 0-62mph taking 4.5 seconds.

The smaller-battery 50 model can charge at a maximum rate of 150kW, while the bigger-battery cars push this up to 170kW. As a result, a 10 to 80 per cent charge takes 28 or 31 minutes respectively. All Q8 e-tron models feature standard 11kW AC charging (nine hours and 15 minutes for a full charge on the 50).

Audi Board Member for Technical Development Oliver Hoffmann said: “We were able to increase battery capacity and charging performance. This allowed us to achieve an optimal balance between energy density and charging capacity. We also improved the motors and the dynamic characteristics that are typical of Audi in all versions of the Q8 e-tron.”

Modified air suspension, a new ESC calibration and tweaks to the progressive steering are said to boost the car’s agility and responses, combined with more rigid suspension bearings in the front axle.

For the Q8 e-tron, Audi’s designers have tweaked the front-end styling to redefine its look as part of the brand’s e-tron electric range. There’s a new e-tron GT-inspired grille, with a gloss black panel surrounding the main air inlet, while the revised LED clusters (digital matrix LEDs are standard on top-spec cars) are joined by an LED strip at the top of the grille. Audi says aerodynamics played a significant part in the new car’s styling, with the SUV’s drag coefficient dropping from 0.26 to 0.24Cd, and the Sportback improving from 0.28 to 0.27.

The cabin isn’t too far removed from that of the model it replaces. Boot space stands at 569 litres for the SUV and 528 litres for the Sportback, while both cars feature a 62-litre front storage area.

With an increasing focus on sustainability, the Q8 e-tron features a significant number of recycled materials in its construction. There’s also a new 2D four-ring Audi logo on the grille, while the lettering and Audi badge on the B-pillars are new touches.

The Q8 e-tron updates are part of an Audi range revamp. The next A4 saloon will be renamed the A5, while the A6 model will become the A7 as the A6 e-tron all-electric saloon takes its place in the line-up. Indeed, the brand has already revealed a sleek A6 e-tron concept, which will become a production reality next year, based on the firm’s PPE platform for pure EVs and sharing technology with the 2023 Q6 e-tron.

Expect an A4 e-tron model in time, with the A7 and A5 to be sold alongside the A6 e-tron and A4 e-tron models, giving Audi buyers a choice of powertrains.

Click here for our list of the best electric SUVs on sale right now…

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