Audi Q8 Sportback e-tron: interior, dashboard & infotainment
It's very hard to find fault with the Q8 Sportback e-tron's cabin – it feels beautifully built and there's loads of technology on offer
Quality inside the Q8 Sportback e-tron is exemplary. Nothing rattles, nothing shakes and the digital dashboard looks and feels absolutely first-rate – even four years after the car went on sale. Audi has stuffed its first electric car with technology and most of it works seamlessly, fitting into your daily duties without fuss.
This can’t be said of the Sportback e-tron's digital door mirrors, however. They’re standard on Vorsprung cars, and a £1,700 option on the rest of the range. We’d avoid them if you can; while you do get used to them eventually, if you find yourself hopping in and out of different cars, you’ll need extensive (and effective) recalibration of your brain to ensure safe operation. We think they’re a bit of a gimmick; the car is a quiet and refined place to spend time even with the bulkier, conventional door mirrors.
Audi Q8 Sportback e-tron dashboard
The Sportback e-tron's dashboard design is among the slickest in any price bracket. It looks premium without feeling too flash, with a pair of touchscreens allowing access to the infotainment system and climate control settings. These screens are complimented by a fully-digital 'Virtual Cockpit' instrument cluster, which is one of the most expertly-integrated systems on the market. You can switch between trip information and full-screen mapping at the flick of the switch, all without losing sight of things like speed and remaining range.
Quality is another high point for the Q8 Sportback e-tron. Everything feels beautifully built – and so it should for this car’s £70,000+ list price for the entry-level model. Stepping up through the trims brings extra kit, but there are few discernable interior changes between the entry-level Sport and the mid-spec S line and Black Edition models. You do get some S-embossed leather seats and dark matt aluminium inlays, but the standard car is so well-equipped we’d argue it’s not really worth the extra.
Equipment, options & accessories
Previously available in Technik, Sport, S Line, Black Edition and Vorsprung trims, the cheapest of those specs was dropped when the e-tron was facelifted and given the Q8 name. The lineup is identical across the conventional SUV and coupe-styled Sportback ranges, with prices for the sleeker version you see here starting from a smidge over £70,000.
Just like the regular Q8 e-tron, entry-level cars come with matrix LED headlights and 20-inch alloy wheels, plus Audi’s 'Virtual Cockpit' digital driver’s display and two central touchscreens – one for the infotainment and another to operate some of the car’s features. You also get wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, plus Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant, as standard.
Upgrading to S line gets you 21-inch wheels, adaptive sports air suspension – an upgrade from the standard-fit air springs in the basic Q8 – plus privacy glass and different interior trim. S line, as with the rest of the Audi range, gets slightly more purposeful styling, with body-coloured bumpers and a rear diffuser.
Above this sits the Black Edition, whereby the Sport and S line’s chrome is swapped out for darker trim, while switching the latter’s graphite grey wheels for gloss black rims. Vorsprung throws the options list out the window and ticks every conceivable box; 22-inch wheels, power-close doors, a panoramic roof, four-zone climate control and virtual door mirrors. These models also get a host of safety features including the Tour Pack, City Assist Pack and Parking Assist Pack.
The flagship SQ8 Sportback is available in Black Edition and Vorsprung trims, largely mirroring the kit available on the 50 e-tron and 55 e-tron models. In addition, the Audi SQ8 Sportback e-tron Black Edition gets unique 21-inch wheels, different bumpers, black brake callipers and a Bang & Olufsen stereo, plus Audi Virtual Cockpit Plus and a head-up display. Vorsprung doubles down with heated front and rear seats and a heated steering wheel, plus the panoramic roof, virtual door mirror and 22-inch wheels mentioned above. Prices for this version nudge £117,000.
Infotainment, apps & sat nav
It may not be as cutting edge as the Mercedes EQE SUV’s Hyperscreen, but there’s no denying the Q8 Sportback e-tron's infotainment system is packed with features. The graphics look slick and the menus are easy to navigate. If you don’t like the setup, you can hook up your smartphone using wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto (both standard), as well as Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant, for a more familiar range of media and navigation apps.
The only thing we’re not sold on is the haptic touchscreen. Most of the features are hidden in one of the two central displays; one houses the infotainment system, including mapping and audio connectivity, while the lower screen allows access to the climate control and heated seats. However, unlike a more conventional touchscreen, the Audi setup requires a firm prod to activate. It feels like the engineers have tried to marry the feel and functionality of a conventional button with the convenience of a touchscreen, without much success.
In This Review
- 1VerdictHaving had the automotive equivalent of a fresh haircut, the Sportback is simply an Audi Q8 e-tron with ‘just a bit off the top’
- 2Range, battery & chargingAbout as efficient as a chocolate teapot, the Q8 Sportback e-tron has a long range, but uses a lot of electricity to get there
- 3Running costs & insuranceThe Q8 Sportback e-tron will cost a lot to buy and insure, but there are savings to be had for company car drivers
- 4Performance, motor & driveDon’t let the Sportback’s sleek shape fool you; all versions, bar the range-topping S, offer very little in terms of driver engagement
- 5Interior, dashboard & infotainment - currently readingIt's very hard to find fault with the Q8 Sportback e-tron's cabin – it feels beautifully built and there's loads of technology on offer
- 6Boot space, seating & practicalityThe Q8 Sportback e-tron is a big car, which means the compromises you have to make inside for that cool sloping roofline are minimal
- 7Reliability & safety ratingAudi may not have all too many satisfied customers, but the Q8 Sportback e-tron should be safe, at least