Winding by means of Northern California’s Navarro Redwoods behind the wheel of Audi’s newest electrical, the Q8 e-tron, I couldn’t assist however hear Kim Novak’s voice whispering, “Someplace in right here I used to be born, and there I died. It was solely a second for you; you took no discover.” It’s from a scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. I received’t spoil the plot for many who haven’t seen this 1958 thriller, however her character is pointing to a cross part of a thousand-year-old sequoia.
These timber are the oldest dwelling issues on the planet; many had been stretching towards the solar lengthy earlier than Carl Benz constructed his first Benz Patent-Motorwagen within the Eighteen Eighties, and they’re going to proceed to develop there tall and proud lengthy after the final inside combustion powered automobiles have vanished from the roads.
The sequoias could not discover, however the rings they create in 2023 could mark a tipping level in our race into the electrical age, one each the brand new Audi Q8 e-Tron and its Sportback sibling are serving to to usher in.
Nuts and Bolts
The earlier era was often known as merely the e-tron, however as Audi is now utilizing that title throughout their complete electrical lineup, the brand new variations have been dubbed the Q8 e-tron and the e-tron Sportback.
Each have been modestly re-styled with a brand new entrance grille, vents in entrance of the wheels that enhance aerodynamic effectivity and a decrease rear bumper.
In each the Q8 SUV and the Sportback, a liquid-cooled, 106 kWh lithium-ion battery pack powers a pair of electrical motors, one for the entrance wheels and one for the rear. The combo generates a most of 402 horsepower (490 lb-ft of torque) and can throw every off from a useless cease to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds. Each boast a prime pace of 124 mph, and due to new battery structure, the vary of the SUV is 285 miles whereas the Sportback can go 296 miles (or 300 with the extremely bundle) on a single cost. The battery can tackle sufficient electrons from a 170kw DC quick charger to go from 10% to 80% in 31 minutes. Degree 2 charging at 19.2kW takes roughly six and a half hours. On paper, these numbers all sound considerably common, however the sum right here provides as much as an expertise that’s considerably higher than easy arithmetic would counsel.
On the Street
Beginning out within the Sportback from Healdsburg in Sonoma wine nation, my drive route traced the Russian River over to the California coast and on to Freeway 1 for an extended drive up the shore. However clearly, the primary likelihood I obtained, I popped it into “dynamic” mode (aka sport) and slammed the pedal all the way down to the ground. I’m a toddler in spite of everything, regardless of what my drivers license says. No, it’s not the quickest EV I’ve pushed, but it surely’s fast and the acceleration is easy, lots fleet for a every day driver. In actual fact, it appears like the correct quantity of energy for a crossover of this ilk and greater than ample for a fast overtake on a two-lane highway. Fairly frankly, not everybody wants or may even deal with an electrical rocket ship. For many who have a critical pace habit, Audi will supply an SQ8 model later this 12 months, which kicks the horsepower as much as 496 and will get to 60 greater than a full second faster. (Perhaps I’ll get to drive that model prior to later.)
Whereas the pace wasn’t surprising, the Sportback’s poise left my jaw someplace close to the brake pedal. Flicking this 5,800 lbs behemoth by means of the bends, I used to be so impressed with the precision and steadiness, I known as my higher half after about 10 minutes behind the wheel to argue over whether or not we actually have to personal a three-row SUV. She made a good level about automobile seats and I hung up with no rebuttal, resigned to ready just a little longer to switch our unleaded swilling college bus. So, I obtained again to driving. Audi has not solely added quicker steering and improved the suggestions, however they’ve additionally upped the rigidity in each e-trons’ five-link absolutely impartial air suspension in addition to improved the digital stability management (ESC) software program, torque vectoring and dynamics. So it feels glued to the highway and there’s minimal roll when attacking the corners.
Alongside the way in which up the coast, I swapped out of the Sportback and into the Q8 SUV earlier than turning inland towards the Redwoods. The efficiency was comparable however barely muted, which I’ll chalk up largely to the rubber. The Sportback was outfitted in Continental summer time tires, whereas the SUV was shoed in all-season tires.
For many who choose a extra subdued driving expertise or when the state of affairs requires one, the consolation setting softens the suspension arrange and strikes the AWD to a rear-wheel bias. The result’s a refined and supple drive with the ESC un-wrinkling most bumps on the highway. There’s additionally an “Eco” setting to assist maximize vary.
To neg them barely, the brake really feel is a bit awkward. The e-trons’ regenerative braking system takes just a little getting used to. There’s a bit an excessive amount of resistance earlier than the calipers begin to seize in earnest. It’s a modest grievance and definitely wouldn’t be a deal-breaker (awful pun alert). The system additionally doesn’t characteristic a setting to allow one-pedal driving or something even near it. However as somebody who prefers utilizing each pedals, that’s not a grievance, only a notice for anybody who would possibly care.
Bells and Whistles
Audi is a luxury-focused, tech-savvy model, in order you would possibly count on the e-trons are inviting, nicely thought-out, areas on the within. The seats are well-cushioned however nonetheless supportive. The dashboard includes a digital instrument cluster for the motive force and a pair of haptic-enabled contact screens — one to manage the navigation, automobile techniques and media, and one other for the local weather management.
By way of facilities, each crossovers begin at loaded and work their manner up from there. Customary tools within the “Premium” trim degree consists of leather-based, a panoramic sunroof, the aforementioned electronically managed air suspension system, 20-inch wheels, adaptive cruise management, heated entrance seats, a heated steering wheel, LED headlamps and four-zone computerized local weather management.
“Premium Plus” provides a Bang & Olufsen sound system, ventilated entrance seats and a prime view digicam system with Digital 360° view. Tick the “Status” field and also you get single-frame projector lighting, Valcona-Milano leather-based seats, digital matrix-design LED headlights, particular person contour massaging entrance seats, clever park help, and matrix-design LED headlights. There’s additionally a “Launch Version” with 21” wheels (22” for the Sportback), metallic black end and an S line exterior.
Finish of the Street
After the 200-plus mile drive, I nonetheless had roughly 70 miles of vary left, regardless of smashing the throttle with the AC on and the massaging seat engaged on my again for 4 and a half hours. I handed off the keys and I wandered over to an Audi exec to let him know, “If it had a small third row bounce seat, I’d get out my checkbook.” He grinned and supplied a cagey chuckle. In fact, that’s coming, and in a brief spell, I’ll have various selections.
Honestly, I’ve been ready fairly some time for an EV that matches my household’s life-style. So, a number of extra months of ready is barely actually a second for me, and ultimately, I’ll barely discover.
This text was featured within the InsideHook publication. Enroll now.