In-depth reviews

Audi Q8 e-tron performance, top speed & motor

The Audi Q8 e-tron is comfortable and smooth, but far from the last word in sportiness

Overall rating

4.0 out of 5

Performance, motor & drive rating

3.0 out of 5

Model0-62mphTop speedDriven wheelsPower
Q8 50 e-tron6.0s124mphFour362bhp
Q8 55 e-tron5.6s124mphFour402bhp
SQ84.5130mphFour496bhp

The Audi Q8 e-tron delivers a familiar electric-car combination of rapid acceleration but dulled handling. Its maker claims this facelifted version is “noticeably more agile” than before, though in reality that’s not quite true. The e-tron still weighs some two-and-a-half tonnes, plenty more than petrol or diesel-engined alternatives. 

It's extremely quiet and comfortable on the move (another electric-car hallmark) however, and with its longer range and faster charging, it’s ideally suited to higher-speed motorway and cross-country driving. Just don’t expect the last word in precision; a Jaguar I-Pace still leads the pack in this regard.

Audi Q8 e-tron 0-62mph, top speed and acceleration

Regardless of which model you pick, the Audi e-tron isn't quite as fast as the legendarily rapid Tesla Model X, but it's certainly no slouch in the grand scheme of things. Our driving impressions are from our time behind the wheel of the more powerful Q8 55 e-tron. With its dual motors producing a combined 402bhp, it’s quick and 0-62mph takes just 5.6 seconds, while the top speed is limited to 124mph. 

For those who are happy to sacrifice some performance and range in the name of reduced costs, the 50 model should still impress thanks to its 362bhp output and 6.0-second 0-62mph time.

Plentiful torque from the electric motors means even the standard e-tron is very quick in everyday, real-world driving; it’ll merge onto motorways, accelerate away from lights and complete safe overtakes on main roads with ease. Once on the motorway, the e-tron is remarkably quiet and composed: there's very little wind or tyre noise, and electric motor whine isn't noticeable at all.

But if you want the ultimate in electric Audi SUV performance, the SQ8 is worth looking out for. The go-faster model produces 496bhp from three motors, uses a new torque-vectoring system and a more rear-biased version of the standard car's quattro four-wheel-drive system, making two-and-a-half-tonne behemoth capable of 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds and knock-you-back-in-your-seat acceleration whenever you put your foot down while on the go. 

The SQ8’s 130mph top speed is well down on the 155mph limit we've become accustomed to on powerful petrol or diesel SUVs, but it's in place mainly to ensure the e-tron preserves a usable range.

Handling

The Audi is arguably the most lead-footed of the posh electric SUVs. The quattro four-wheel-drive system at least ensures it feels planted in wet or slippery conditions, while the standard air suspension ensures a very smooth ride. However, both the Model X and Mercedes EQC are faster and a bit more responsive and engaging on a decent road, while the Jaguar I-Pace and BMW iX are on another level if you want an electric car that's genuinely fun and playful to drive. Even the sportier SQ8 features the same precise but uncommunicative steering, and you do feel the weight of the car when cornering.

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