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Test drive: Mark Gallivan reviews the 2019 Audi Q8 3.0TDI 286HP Quattro TipTronic

By LLM Reporters on 6th April 2019

Leading motoring writer Mark Gallivan takes the 2019 Audi Q8 3.0TDI 286HP Quattro TipTronic out for a test drive. Here is what he thought.

Picture the scene. It’s a Friday evening in Ingolstadt and the high-ranking engineers are well into their third beer with the product people when all of a sudden they have an idea. Why not build another SUV? Only this time, let’s make it much more expensive than the Audi Q7 and better still, let’s call it the flagship. A tall tale? Maybe, not.

I’m parked in an underground car park and have discovered to my horror that the exit ramp out has width restrictors which are, pretty much, as wide as the Audi Q8 itself. That’s a full 27mm wider than the already enormous Audi Q7. It may not sound a lot but when it’s the difference between kerbing the oh-so-expensive 21” alloy wheels when things get serious.

2019 Audi Q8 3.0TDI 286HP Quattro TipTronic
Image credit: Paddy McGrath

So I edge forward. Then, a bit more. I’m feathering the throttle and eventually make it out into the late winter sunshine. It’s then I realise, I’ve held my breath the whole the way up the cursed ramp. Seriously Audi, wasn’t the Q7 wide enough for you already?

It’s a flagship alright – in price and girth. The thing is, I’ve been looking forward to testing the Q8 ever since I saw the first teaser photos of the SUV and I really liked the look of the thing. For a gargantuan SUV – and it is huge – the enormous proportiones are successfully masked by the coupe-style sloping roof and hosting some of the coolest rear tail light treatment fitted to any mainstream car.

The car I’m driving is the £64,740, 3.0TDI 286HP quattro TipTronic version albeit with a host of extras than when added almost make that base price seem rather good value. Aside of all that, it does look tremendous with curved rear haunches and a squat stance as if an invisible hand hovered over an Audi Q7 and then squashed it. At launch the Q8 arrives with a 3.0-litre diesel with 286hp with Quattro permanent four-wheel drive and an eight speed auto with manual mode.

2019 Audi Q8 3.0TDI 286HP Quattro TipTronic
Image credit: Paddy McGrath

Acceleration is more surge-like when thrusting the Q8’s considerable 2,145km forward in a respectable 0-64mph of 6.3 seconds and a top speed with a, frankly, irrelevant 144mph. Though like several big Audi’s of late there is a momentary hesitation when you accelerate at modest speeds. It’s a problem that either stems from the gearbox or the engine’s turbos. If you’ve already driven the 2019 Audi A8 the Q8 experience is similar, only taller but missing the A8’s eerie extra layer of isolation and refinement. Inside the Q8’s cabin features the two touchscreens in the middle of the dashboard.

If you’re a lover of bristling driving tech you’ll be in your element with convenience and safety features along with adaptive air suspension making the Q8 feel supremely well balanced although the slightly remote steering allows the Q8 to waft through country lanes and side roads with an aloofness that somehow cancels out the imperfections that plague less expensive SUVs.

The standard specification is generous with goodies like Adaptive Air Suspension, MMI Navigation and Touch Response in a 10.1” screen, a 8.6” touch display for heating controls, HD Matrix Headlights with front and rear dynamic sequencing (awesome to look at and tremendous at night), 21” 5-spoke allow wheels and an sound system that melts your ears with 10 loudspeakers and amplifier with 180 watt power. Leafing through the large options list there is sufficient in there to not just lighten your wallet but drain it completely dry. It’s inside the Q8’s cabin that you really feel where your money has been spent. Outside the elevated class of a Bentley Bentayga, it’s the Audi Q8 that reigns supreme.

2019 Audi Q8 3.0TDI 286HP Quattro TipTronic
Image credit: Paddy McGrath

Few people have homes as beautifully inside and in the Q8 nothing in its class beats it for contemporary tech cool or quality. It is, in short, a triumph. Though the only downside to the luxurious cabin is the layout – the Q8 only has five seats against the Q7’s commodious seven seats versatility. In summary, if you’re looking for an Audi with a Q that’s imposing and cool and very luxurious to drive, then the flagship Q8 may well be your ideal SUV. Just bear in mind that you’ll forfeit the seven-seat experience available with the outstanding Audi Q7.

You will also pay a lot more for the Q8’s style and status – over £13,000 more in fact – which roughly equates to the price of nicely spec’d Volkswagen Polo in the UK. However, if money is not a concern the Audi Q8 makes a fabulous choice.