By: Charles Molefe
My introduction to the Audi brand is by far the best introductions one can have to any manufacturer’s products, I was fortunate enough to be introduced to the brand by none other than the captivating Q8. Filled to the brim with technology and a stance that demands respect from lesser beings. My tenure with the Sportline kitted Q8 was sure to be an explorative yet oddly satisfying experience.
At first glance I was amazed how the Q8 commanded respect with its sheer size, not many vehicles manage to command such respect at a mere glance. What made the Q8 even more statuesque is the 22’’ wheels fitted at each corner, they really stand out, but, somehow they take a back seat to the seemingly endless curves the Q8 possesses. This car is a real stunner, everywhere I went comments were hurled countless times with the odd passerby managing to grab a snap of the Dragon Orange Audi. I was fortunate to have been given the Dragon Orange iteration of the Q8, it announces its intentions without saying much, regardless of the location, I did a fair bit of driving during the course of my test, and the Q8’s biggest fans ranged from the tender age of 6 through the timeline to a mature age of 82. It really managed to capture the hearts of all those who had the opportunity to bond, stare and even experience.
The interior is by far a class above the rest, it represents the new design language Audi is incorporating in its vehicles across the board. As you step into the Q8 you are quickly engulfed by the electronic sports seats which provide you with ample support and the additional capability of heating them up.
The majority of the interior is covered in an exquisite black finish with accents of aluminum, this does bring out a sense of sportiness and encourages the driver to be a tad overzealous with the throttle.
Audi has integrated the brilliant Multimedia interface (MMI) what sets this system apart from previous cars we have had on test is the haptic feedback, it provides you with a sense of satisfaction that you have managed to select the required feature.
The (MMI) is extremely easy to use and intuitive too, you have access to the climate control, audio control options and the drive selection modes. What really impressed me was how I was able to toggle through the different modes without a struggle.
The Audi drive select is probably one of the better party pieces I have experienced. You are presented with a number of options ranging from, dynamic, comfort and auto mode. Dynamic mode is my firm favourite, it lowers the suspension tightens up the steering and provides you with a no holds barred sporty experience. Comfort is a close second you are quickly transformed to experience the smoothest and most supple drive you will ever experience below 3 million rands.
The Matrix LED headlights are also one of the most captivating technologies I have experienced, the lights will always ensure that your night time visibility is at its optimum. The lights have this unique ability to shut down a number of LED’s to avoid dazzling oncoming traffic, a testament to this was my experience on a very early morning, you could see the system working and creating a block around opposing traffic whilst providing me with the utmost visibility.
Bowers & Wilkens audio system
Over the years I have always wondered how some manufacturers are able to provide the highest levels of audio systems. I have experienced the Bose 9 speaker setup and that is close to the best experience that you can get your hands on in a vehicle. However, Audi has just blasted the competition into the weeds with the B&W system, its really insane how crystal clear the reproduced audio is by the speakers, the subwoofer flourishes by covering the low bass and mid-range audio, I was often left wanting during my experience, this is possibly the best audio system you can get on four wheels.
The Audi Q8 is powered by a 3.0L V6 that produces 250kW accompanied by a mountainous torque figure of 500Nm, this will propel the mammoth Q8 to the glorified 100 km/h mark in a brisk 5,9 seconds. There are unfortunately a number of challenges I had with the performance aspects of the Q8. The delay in response irrespective of which mode you are in is unfortunately undesirable, the pause feels endless and frankly, if you are attempting to do a quick dash from one lane to the other you will need to be a lot more decisive in your efforts to overtake slow-moving traffic. However, the subtle way of how the Q8 gathers momentum, is quite frankly a relentless shove, and Its ability to hold its composure whilst accelerating is a great display of how the Quattro all-wheel-drive system operates, it doesn’t take much to get over the legal speed limit and the comfort of the Q8 is what eludes you from staying within the legal limit. Responsiveness aside, the Q8 will charter you from point A to B without hassle, it also manages to take no prisoners in its quest to your destination.
Audi claims that the Q8 will return a combined cycle of just about 11.L/100km’s, however, one does need to bear in mind that those figures are often attained in controlled environments. My best effort to get close to those figures were nothing but futile. During my tenure with the Q8, I managed to achieve a figure of 13.9L/100km’s. Do note that my figures mainly represent copious amounts of stop/start traffic and the odd blast down a country road, so, in all fairness, I did not give the Q8 a chance to display its attempt at frugality. The Q8 is the first of Audi’s models to incorporate a mild hybrid drivetrain, this assists in recovering up to 12kW of power, which will be utilized during coasting.
My test period with the Q8 is by far the best experience I have had, the sheer size coupled with the intelligent 4 wheel steering dispatched any tight space and granted me with the confidence to dispatch many undulating road surfaces and include some fun in the tight and twisties. The Q8 is highly capable, whether it be offroad or the scenic N3 you are sure to be covered in all aspects, comfort, performance or any other challenge you may throw at it, the Q8 is more than capable.
The highlight of my tenure with the Q8 is how it drew attention to itself, if you enjoy being the star of the show, this is the car for you, especially if it is crafted in the ever-alluring Dragon Orange.
My greatest fear about the Q8 is the imminent introduction of the SQ8 and lastly, the RSQ8, never at any given moment did I believe that I need additional power, however, the merciless, BMW X6M and the brutal GLE63s Coupe from Mercedes-Benz have a lot to say in the performance stakes of this segment, it is only natural that Audi responds in kind, and I look forward to Audi’s answer to the above-mentioned.
Pricing as standard
- R 1 388 000
Price as tested
- R 1 668 768
Optional extra’s fitted
- Adaptive cruise control
- Night Vision assistant
- Head-up display
- Valcona leather with embossed S logo on front seats
- Trailer hitch
- Audi side assist with Pre-sense rear
- S line Black Package
- Engine 2967 cc
- 250kW / 500Nm
- Transmission 8-speed Tiptronic
- 0-100 km/h 5.9 seconds
- Top speed 250 km/h
- 11L / 100 KM
- Fuel tank 85 L
- Luggage capacity 605l / 1755l
- 9.6 / 10