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Audi Q8 long-term test

2018 onwards (change model)
Parkers overall rating: 3.5 out of 53.5

Written by Keith Adams Published: 26 January 2024 Updated: 26 January 2024

Want an SUV that combines calm, comfort, toughness, interior space and a hint of premium? The obvious answer for many might be a Range Rover or Range Rover Sport, but Audi has other ideas. We’re running an Audi Q8 TDI for six months to see if its flagship SUV makes the perfect luxury mile muncher.

Reports by Keith Adams.

Audi Q8 long-term test (2024)

Update 1: Welcome

Introducing the Audi Q8 SUV 50 TDI Launch Edition Tiptronic

Welcome to the extended long-term review of the Audi Q8, the recently-facelifted version of the range-topping SUV from Ingolstadt. Originally launched in 2018, it was based upon the Q7 SUV, but shared many luxury features, including the dashboard and infotainment set-up from the A8 saloon – a long-time Parkers favourite.

The facelift brings some minor changes (notably better headlights), but the recipe remains unchanged. So, in many ways, the Q8 could be the perfect car for me. It combines the luxury and space of a limousine, but the ruggedness I need living out in the sticks, as I do. You’ll already know this if you’ve arrived here via the main review, but I hope that by the end of this extended review, you’ll get a taste of what a Q8 is like to live with.

As you can see from the accompanying pictures, it’s arrived in the middle of winter and on the bounce from a number of pretty disrupting storms. During the first few weeks of ownership, we’ve encountered gales, floods, snow and ice – and the Q8’s imperiously shrugged it all off, despite my initial misgivings about its monster 22-inch wheels and liquorice-thin tyres.

Check out the Audi Q8 specs page on Parkers for the entire range – especially worth bearing in mind when it comes to pricing up your car.

Audi Q8 long-term test (2024)

What you get with a Q8 Launch Edition

First thing’s first, the Lauch Edition is no longer listed on the Audi website, so to all intents and purposes we’re reviewing this as an optioned-up Q8 S Line. Visually, it looks most like a Black Edition model, so it loses the chrome exterior trim of that model and comes in a most fetching shade of Ascari Blue that brings back memories of the glorious RS2 Avant.

In terms of additional equipment over the Q8 S Line, you get the following for a £10,500 premium:

  • Branded premium sound system
  • Keyless go
  • Heated front and rear seats
  • Adaptive LED headlights
  • Head-up display
  • City Assist Pack, with Parking Assist
  • 22-inch alloys, OLED rear lights, black trim package

That’s just the extras you get over an S Line, and a far from complete one. It’s probably easier to talk about what the Q8 Launch Edition doesn’t have in terms of equipment. For me, the main thing it’s missing is adaptive cruise control and soft closing doors. Other than that, it seems pretty complete to me.

Audi Q8 long-term test (2024)

In terms of use, it’s going to work for a living. I live 200 miles from the office and I’m regularly there, so need a relaxed and reasonably economical car doesn’t shakes off the hustle and bustle of the UK motorway network. Now I live in a farmhouse at the end of a long, steep and bumpy track, and the roads up there are narrow, rough and tricky. So, an SUV suits perfectly. Especially considering the foul weather 2023 and ’24 has brought us so far. It’s going to work for its living.

Finally, I plumped for diesel because I appreciate the long range that comes with it. That it comes with the muscular 3.0-litre V6 with 286hp means that it’ll be ticking over on my long journeys. Perfect. I do wonder if it’ll be the last new diesel I run, and whether we’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Early impressions are positive. I was expecting boaty handling, but have been pleasantly surprised by its responsive handling, low-roll cornering and decent ride quality when it’s in Comfort mode. Over the coming months and thousands of miles, I’ll get deep under the skin of the Audi Q8 and regularly ply Britain’s and Europe’s motorways to see if this big diesel car proves to be as good as I hope it will.

Update 2: Performance, handling and economy

How well does it drive, and how is it handling a tough winter?

Long story short, it’s quiet, refined, and a brilliant motorway cruiser. Fuel consumption is okay, but the diesel range is excellent.

Audi Q8 long-term test (2024)

After more than 3,000 miles, it feels like the Q8 is bedding in nicely, despite stormy weather. After a pair of hot-rod long-termers (a Skoda Superb 280 and a Volkswagen Golf R), its 0-62mph in 6.2 seconds might feel disappointing. Especially after the Golf, which was such an agile thing (in R mode). But, no – the Audi’s forte is discrete performance – it just hunkers down, builds momentum and absolutely monsters long journeys. I might just be imagining it, but I reckon it’s also less intimidating to other drivers than a chrome-laden Q7.

As an SUV that is almost five metres long and 2.2m wide, it would be forgiven for lacking body control or handling finesse, but it’s actually pleasingly agile once it’s size and weight are taken into account. I drive a lot of B-roads, and have yet to be disapointed by it. Importantly, all-weather confidence, and its ability to handle snow, ice and flood waters is excellent. It’ll be good to compare is directly with a Range Rover Sport.

The Q8 doesn’t feel rocket quick off the mark, but what it does do is mid-range punch, and confident overtaking. That lofty driving position helps here, too. In the recent snow flurries in the north of England, it tracked true and straight, and never looked close to getting stuck. It’s not quite so effective in deep mud, but I’m going to put that down to the tyre choice – they look more suited to the race track.

Audi Q8 long-term test (2024)

And the handling?

You might think that a car that spends much of its time on the M6 and A1 doesn’t need to handle well. But I beg to differ. Yes, its high-speed stability, high gearing, punchy engine and comfortable, suportive seats make it perfectly suited to going in straight lines quickly, but the final few miles of any trip for me are twisting B-roads and I rather like being able to enjoy it.

In short, it doesn’t put a foot wrong on the challenging stuff. Yes, a Porsche Cayenne is sharper and has more steering feel, but the Q8’s more discrete and it’s more than capable enough for me. The steering is precise, if lacking in feel, the brakes are strong and consistent, and the lack of bodyroll and overall levels of grip and poise are more than I expected. Fun, no, but I think flinging around a 2.1-tonne SUV like an MX-5 isn’t exactly responsible these days.

Some of my colleagues will be along shortly to tell me I need a Cayenne Coupe or BMW X6, but I’m more than happy with the relaxed, quietly confident Q8.

Audi Q8 long-term test (2024)

And the fuel consumption?

The Q8 arrived on the fleet with less than 1,000 miles on the clock, and we’ve already breezed past 3,000, and it’s fair to say that it’s growing on me. It’s not as if I didn’t like it in the beginning (I’m a sucker for a big Audi), but the more I drive it, the more I like it – despite my general scepticism for SUVs as a breed. Fuel consumption seems to be improving all the time, with an overall of 36.4mpg – which comfortably beats the official figures.

On my 190-mile commute to the office, it makes 38mpg without too much effort, relying on the cruise control system and sticking pretty rigidly to the speed limits. The fuel range of 530 miles certainly makes a refreshing change after years of driving EVs.

I am hoping to get it overseas for a few business trips – this is a car built for an easy drive to the south of France in single shot – and I feel the need to escape the UK weather. Even if the Q8 is shrugging it off.

Audi Q8 long-term test: scores on the doors

Model tested: 50 TDI Launch Edition 

Current mileage3,250
Real-world average fuel economy36.4mpg
Official combined fuel economy (WLTP figures)33.0mpg
Parkers ‘MPP’ (Miles Per Pound) calculation3.9-4.5 mpp
Dates tested by ParkersNovember 2023-April 2024