What is it?
Electrification is the car industry’s buzzword right now and for Audi it’s no different, with the German firm offering plug-in cars that range from the A3 hatchback right up to the model we’re testing today – the range-topping Q8. It wears TFSI e badging and gets the typical hybrid petrol-electric powertrain combination to provide rapid performance as well as impressive fuel sipping potential. Today we find out if the Q8 TFSI e can provide the relaxed yet premium driving experience you expect from this high-spec SUV.
There’s little from the outside to let you know this is a plug-in hybrid model. It’s a common theme across the Audi line-up, which sees electrified models blend in with their combustion-engined counterparts.The powertrain is shared with others in the VW Group, so you’ll find this V6-based unit in the likes of the VW Touareg R and Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid. It’s all wrapped in the same coupe-like body found on the regular Q8.
What’s under the bonnet?
That petrol-electric powertrain makes 456bhp and 700Nm of torque in top-spec Competition guise, meaning the Q8 TFSI e is no slouch. Opt for the regular version and you get 375bhp and 600Nm, which is still nothing to be sniffed at.There’s an electric-only range of about 38 miles and you can top the batteries up with a 7.5kW charger in two and a half hours. With a fully charged battery Audi reckons you could see up to 97.4mpg with CO2 emissions of 66g/km.
What’s it like to drive?
You get a traditional premium SUV experience from the Q8 TFSI e, which is quiet and refined. It’s at its best around town where the electric motor can take over, and it’s pretty easy to pilot down narrow streets despite its size. It’s fine on the motorway, too, but here the economy drops considerably – we saw about 35mpg in mixed driving during our time with the car, which is a long way off the suggested figures. As the numbers suggest it’s rapid when required, but it’s character rarely tempts you into making the most of it. Instead, it encourages you into a more relaxed style of driving.
How does it look?
As with the regular Q8, the TFSI has an imposing front end that makes it impossible to miss out on the road. There are plenty of futuristic touches such as a full-width light bar at the rear that gives a fantastic light signature at night. Then there are the LED lights up front that are just as snazzy with their razor-thin design.The sloping roofline gives it a really stylish edge, and though this does go against the practical ethos usually associated with SUVs, there’s no denying it looks great. Our test car’s bright metallic orange only amplified its on-road presence.
What’s it like inside?
Audi has, yet again, knocked it out of the park with the Q8’s interior. The firm is on a roll with its cabins and this model is no different, with high-quality materials, sharp screens and an excellent fit and finish – though you’d expect that from a car costing just over £92,000, as our test car was.Taller passengers might find the roofline impacts headroom somewhat, but legroom is decent. The boot has a 505-litre capacity, which is about 100 litres down on the non-hybrid Q8 (you can blame the batteries for that).
What’s the spec like?
The Q8 TFSI e might be pricey, but you get plenty of kit for your cash. The Competition-spec model we tested has the aforementioned power boost as well as a full black exterior styling package, 22-inch alloy wheels and red brake callipers. Inside, there’s a full MMI navigation system and that twin-screen setup that’s one of the best in the business.Ahead of the driver is Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit, which is a digital display replacing the traditional dials. It’s highly customisable and in this hybrid model has displays for the electric range and battery.
The Audi Q8 TFSI e makes for an interesting proposition. Its hybrid powertrain will make it highly appealing to those who do a lot of low-speed, inner-city driving, but this does contrast somewhat with the fact that it’s typically those who travel long distances who like the practicality and comfort of an SUV.Its fairly limited electric range does mean that unless you can keep it topped up often and don’t travel too far, a regular petrol or diesel option might be better.