The Audi e-tron is the brand’s first series production electric vehicle that made its debut back in September 2018. Since then, the German carmaker has released several other EVs that are part of the ‘e-tron’ series, including the e-tron GT and Q4 e-tron. To make sure people don’t get confused where the large SUV sits in the line-up, the original e-tron has now been renamed the Q8 e-tron as part of its latest update.
“By calling this model the Q8, Audi is making a clear statement that the Audi Q8 e-tron is the top model among its electric SUVs and crossovers,” the carmaker said in its official release. When the Q8 e-tron goes on sale from February next year – order taking starts this November – it will be available in regular and Sportback body styles.
There’s also no less than three quattro all-wheel drive electric drivetrains and two battery sizes to choose from. Audi says the asynchronous motor concept on the rear axle has been modified to have 14 coils generating the electromagnetic field instead of 12 previously to create the same amount of torque, or produce more with the same amount of energy as the older design.
Kicking things off is the Q8 50 e-tron quattro, which offers as much as 340 PS (335 hp or 250 kW) in boost mode and 664 Nm of torque. The two electric motors – one for each axle – draw power from a reworked lithium-ion battery with a higher usable energy capacity of 89 kWh (95 kWh gross) – previously 64.7 kWh (71 kWh gross). This is good for a range of up to 491 km (standard body) or 505 km (Sportback) following the WLTP, which is over 100 km more than before.
Sitting above the base option is the Q8 55 e-tron that gets a more substantial battery with 106 kWh (114 kWh gross) – previously 86.5 kWh usable (95 kWh gross) – along with electric motors that output 408 PS (402 hp or 300 kW) in boost mode and 664 Nm. The increased battery capacity provides up to 582 km (standard body) and 600 km (Sportback) of range. Both the Q8 50 and Q8 55 share the same limited top speed of 210 km/h.
For even more power, there’s the SQ8 e-tron – renamed from the e-tron S – which gains a third electric motor for a total system output of 503 PS (496 hp or 370 kW) and 973 Nm in boost mode. The range-topper gets the larger battery, but its range is only up to 494 km (standard body) and 513 km (Sportback), although the top speed gets a bump to 210 km/h.
In terms of charging, all Q8 e-tron variants support AC charging at up to 11 kW (nine hours and 15 minutes) or 22 kW (four hours and 45 minutes), the latter being an optional upgrade. There’s also DC fast charging, which is at 150 kW for the Q8 50 e-tron, and 170 kW for the Q8 55 e-tron and SQ8 e-tron – the higher input gets the battery from a 10-80% state of charge in about 31 minutes for 420 km of range.
One reason for the increased range with the update is the improved aerodynamics, with the drag coefficient for the Sportback down from 0.26 to 0.24, and 0.28 to 0.27 for the standard body. Changes to enable these improvements include wheel spoilers mounted on the underbody help divert airflow around the wheels, including on the rear for the SQ8 e-tron.
The grille also gets a self-sealing system in addition to the electric shutters that automatically close the radiator to further optimise airflow. On that mention, the grille has been restyled to visually link it to recent e-tron models and comes with a new version of the brand’s four-ringed logo that is illuminated by an overhead light bar. The rest of the car remains largely the same, although there’s laser etching on the B-pillars.
Inside, you’ll find very subtle changes like increased use of recycled materials. As before, there’s no shortage of displays, with a 12.3-inch Audi virtual cockpit and a 10.1-inch MMI touch response infotainment system sitting above an 8.6-inch secondary touchscreen that replaces all conventional switches and knobs.
Other features include standard air suspension that allows the ride height to be adjusted by 76 mm. There’s also revised tuning for the air springs and an updated steering ratio, the latter providing quicker response. Digital matrix LED headlamps are also available as an option, now improved with enhanced traffic information, the lane light with a direction indicator and the orientation light on country roads.
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