If you’re in the market for an SUV that combines the brute force of a performance car with the opulence of a luxury sedan, you need to check out the 2023 Audi SQ8 TFSI.
This hot-blooded SUV takes VW Group’s renowned engineering prowess and melds it with a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 as seen in many Porsche and Bentley models, and the SQ8’s cousin, the Lamborghini Urus. It delivers a symphony of power and luxury.
2023 Audi SQ8: Specifications
Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol
Output: 373kW@5500rpm / 770Nm@2000-4000rpm
Gearbox: Eight-speed auto
Drive type: All-wheel drive
Wheels: F & R: 22×10.0, 285/40
ANCAP: Not tested
Tare weight: 2480kg
Power-to-weight: 6.64:1 (kg:kW)
Official consumption: 11.9L/100km
Our consumption: 13.3L/100km
Fuel tank/Fuel type: 85L/98 RONPower efficiency: 31.33kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 2.03 seconds*
0-100km/h: 4.14 seconds*
60-110km/h: 2.74 seconds*
1/4 mile: 12.46 seconds at 182.4km/h*
Max acceleration: 1.166g*
100-0km/h braking: 38.00m in 2.00 seconds*
Max deceleration: -1.334g*
Decibel at idle (/sport mode): 42/50*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 86*
Starting price: $167,269
*Figures as tested by Driving Enthusiast on the day. Manufacturers’ claims may be different
2023 Audi SQ8: How much does it cost?
Kicking off from $167,296, the SQ8 is $2400 more than the SQ7 wagon. This showcases a more fashionable ‘coupe SUV’ form but it shouldn’t really cost more as you’re getting less vehicle (boot space, more on that below).
Even so, this price point is about average for this style of vehicle. And considering the Porsche Cayenne Coupe and Lamborghini Urus, both of which share the same platform and the same engine (tuned differently), the SQ8 can look like a bit of a bargain.
2023 Audi SQ8: Interior & packaging
As you step into the SQ8, the first thing you’ll notice is the impeccable craftsmanship and sophistication. Audi interiors have always been a benchmark in this area, and the SQ8 doesn’t disappoint. Premium materials like leather, Alcantara, and brushed aluminium are spread throughout the cabin, and the overall fit and finish is flawless.
Seating in the SQ8 is a treat for both the driver and passengers. The front ‘S’ sport seats offer excellent support during spirited driving and long journeys alike. In the rear, there’s plenty of legroom and headroom, even for taller passengers, making this a genuine five-seat large SUV. The rear seats are also heated, and there’s a full climate control panel with separate zone settings.
Cargo space is generous, and the power-operated tailgate makes accessing it a breeze. With the rear seats up, you have 605 litres, and that expands to an impressive 1755L when you fold them down. This flexibility makes the SQ8 practical for daily use, whether you’re running errands or embarking on a proper weekend getaway. However, if you want maximum boot space you can jump over to the SQ7 wagon, which offers 705L/1890L.
Audi’s Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster, which is standard in the SQ8, offers customisable displays that put essential information right in front of the driver. The infotainment system, centred around a 10.1-inch haptic touch-screen, is intuitive to use and comes equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
A secondary 8.6-inch touch-screen is housed further down on the fascia and is used for the main vehicle functions, including climate control. These are both embedded into the dash and not simply stuck on as an after-thought.
In Australia the SQ8 comes with a spectacular 17-speaker, 730W Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system. It is awesome. You can think of this as a high-end hifi booth that just so happens to have wheels, five seats and a V8 engine. It’s that good. A seperate amplifier and sub-woofer ensure pure and crisp tunes.
2023 Audi SQ8: Powertrain & handling
Under the SQ8’s bulging bonnet you’ll find a true masterpiece; a 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8, running a 10.1:1 compression ratio and featuring Audi’s famous direct injection. This engine is part of a huge modular engine family, sharing its main dimensions, ‘hot-V’ turbocharger layout, and V angle as the 2.9-litre biturbo V6 and 3.0-litre single-turbo V6 found in many Audi RS models and Porsche vehicles. The V8 is also used in many Porsche and Bentley vehicles, and the Lamborghini Urus, as mentioned.
There are various states of tune applied by each of the different brands, as you can imagine, and in the SQ8 it’s actually one of the more modest configurations. It produces 373kW at 5500rpm, which isn’t earth-shattering. But it does generate a relentless 770Nm of torque, between 2000-4000rpm.
In a large and very heavy (2480kg tare) vehicle like this, torque is arguably more important than power. Because it means you don’t need to rev the absolute guts out of it to experience its awe and admire its bellowing V8 burble.
It’s no slouch, either. On a private road we clocked some very impressive numbers, particularly considering this is the ‘low-boost’ tune for this engine. The 0-100km/h sprint took just 4.14 seconds, meeting Audi’s claim of 4.1, with the quarter-mile crossed in just 12.46 seconds at 182.4km/h.
These are staggering figures. And a lot of it has to do with the swift-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission and Audi’s clever quattro all-wheel-drive system. Power is efficiently transferred to the tarmac, regardless of the conditions.
The power delivery is linear and smooth, too, making it such a wonderful cruising vehicle. Flick it into Dynamic mode and the standard air suspension system lowers down, the exhaust clears its throat, and the controls become more sensitive and responsive.
You’ll be astonished at how well this big boy handles on an exciting winding road. Forget about that massive weight and just drive it like a sports sedan, because it responds like one most of the time. Opt for the Dynamic Package, which adds active roll stabilisation and a sports differential, to be sure you’re getting the most out of this thoroughly-engineered MLB Evo platform.
Speaking of options, the Dynamic Package will set you back an extra $10,900. If you want carbon ceramic brakes, and you probably do if you’re planning on giving it some at every opportunity you get, these will cost you $19,500.
As you can probably imagine, the SQ8 doesn’t offer the high-end precision or the pure steering communication as its pricier siblings. But you’re not necessarily missing out here. Those are simply even better, above the SQ8’s very high standards, in our opinion. If Audi could cut some weight from the SQ8, it’d be hot on the heels.
In terms of braking performance, the SQ8 is equipped with performance S brakes that bring this powerhouse to a halt without drama. But extended abuse is likely to have its limitations. Again, go for the ceramics if you’re planning to go on regular spirited drives.
Around town and on regular open roads, the standard adaptive cruise control system with traffic jam assist is a boon and helps reduce fatigue, while the air suspension system is not only wonderfully absorbent and relaxing, it can be adjusted to provide more ground clearance if needed (209mm in the regular setting).
2023 Audi SQ8: Key attractions/reasons to buy
The star of the show is undoubtedly the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine, which delivers explosive acceleration and a spine-tingling soundtrack. The SQ8’s performance is on par with many sports cars, making it a true thrill to drive.
Audi’s commitment to interior quality is represented in very high orders in the SQ8. This interior is a sanctuary of luxury and subtle sophistication. We love that it’s not too over-the-top but still infused with lots of attention to detail.
The customisable driving experience through Audi’s Drive Select system and the adjustable air suspension mean this is a genuinely versatile vehicle. It’s not quite as spacious as the SQ7, in the boot, but, overall, this would make a superb daily driver.
2023 Audi SQ8: Key considerations before you buy
Firstly, the price tag. This is a high-end vehicle but by the time you add on-road costs and some options, you’re looking down the barrel at close to $200k. There are some tantalising alternatives out there for this sort of money.
And that’s probably its main weakness. Is it going to be seen as the junior to the more prominent, platform-sharing players? Well, one way to look at it; it’s a lot more affordable than those.
2023 Audi SQ8: Video
How does it rate against its rivals?
Audi has created an SUV that seamlessly blends blistering performance with opulent luxury. It doesn’t compromise on comfort or practicality, either. Whether you’re carving through mountain roads or cruising on the highway, the SQ8 is equally at home.