The 2021 Audi Q8 is the German luxury brand’s flagship SUV. Though numerically higher than the Audi Q7, the Q8 is actually a bit smaller with a two-row/five-passenger setup, vs. the Q7’s three-row/seven-passenger configuration.
Whereas the Q7 is a premium family SUV, the Q8 prioritizes design and lifestyle as much as it does comfort and capability. It competes with other indulgent, coupe-inspired SUVs like the BMW X6, Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe and Porsche Cayenne Coupe.
Like those rivals, cost of entry isn’t cheap. A base 2021 Audi Q8 starts over $68,000. That’s over $13,000 more than a Q7, but the Q8 also comes with a V6 instead of the Q7’s standard 4-cylinder engine. Higher-power variants run even more. The SQ8 and new RS Q8, both packing twin-turbo V8 engines and up to 591 horsepower, start over $89,000 and $113,000, respectively.
No matter which Q8 you choose, you’ll get a very well-equipped, large two-row luxury SUV brimming with technology and sophistication.
Audi side assist (blind-spot monitoring) is now a standard safety feature, as is the Pre-Sense rear system that can prepare the vehicle for a rear-end collision. A heated steering wheel is now standard on the Premium Plus trim. Option packages get some new offerings, and the Executive Package is new for the Premium Plus trim. It includes adaptive cruise control with lane-keeping assist, heated rear seats and more. See the 2021 Audi Q8 models for sale near you
What We Like
- Stylish, luxurious and practical
- Sophisticated technology
- Standard Quattro all-wheel drive
- High-performance models available
- Shares platform with Lamborghini Urus
What We Don’t
- Some turbo lag
- Nearly $70,000 starting price
$68,200-nearly $100,000 (plus $995 destination charge.)
The Audi Q8 comes with an innovative powertrain that pairs a traditional gasoline engine with an electrified system. The main component is a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6. This is augmented by a 48-volt mild-hybrid system running off a lithium-ion battery that recharges as you drive. That battery powers the engine stop/start feature, smoothing out the re-start action. It also reduces the need for belts that drive components like water pumps, thereby cutting parasitic power losses. The system also enables the engine to deliver more of its muscle sooner after initial takeoff.
On the subject of muscle, the Q8 has 335 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque (coming in at a really low 1,370 rpm). This power is sent to all four-wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission.
The Environmental Protection Agency has yet to give a fuel economy estimate for the 2021 Q8, but the 2020 model is rated at 17 miles per gallon in the city, 21 mpg on the highway and 18 mpg in combined. That’s not particularly great for something with hybrid-like hardware, but it’s on par with most other large luxury SUVs. The Q8 runs on premium fuel.
The Q8’s maximum tow rating is pretty at 7,700 pounds.
Standard Features & Options
The 5-passenger 2021 Audi Q8 large luxury SUV comes in three trims: Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige.
The Premium ($68,200, plus $995 destination fee) includes 20-in alloy wheels, full LED exterior lighting, a powered lift gate, roof rails, heated side mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, a panoramic sunroof with a powered sunshade, tri-zone automatic climate control, a power-adjustable steering column, selectable driving modes, heated front seats, power-adjustable front seats (driver: 8-way, passenger: 4-way), front/rear parking sensors, forward and rear collision warning, automatic high beams, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, a garage door opener, a 12.3-in Virtual Cockpit driver display, navigation, dual infotainment touchscreens (a 10.1-in upper screen, an 8.6-in lower screen with handwriting recognition), Wi-Fi, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, four USB ports, Bluetooth, HD/satellite radio and a 10-speaker/180-watt audio system.
This model is eligible for 21-in alloy wheels and a Convenience package that contains top-view camera, heated steering wheel, wireless charging, phone signal booster and self-dimming side mirrors. All this equipment is standard in the Premium Plus model.
A Black optic package is also available for the Premium trim.
The Premium Plus ($72,050) adds four-zone automatic climate control, perforated leather seating surfaces, heated/ventilated/12-way power-adjustable front seats, a Bang & Olufsen 17-speaker/730-watt audio system, keyless entry/ignition/hands-free lift gate release, a top-view camera system with a virtual 360-degree view, ambient interior lighting and illuminated aluminum door sill inlays.
The new Executive Package for Premium Plus bundles adaptive cruise control with Traffic Jam/Intersection/Turn Assist, lane-keeping assist, HD Matrix LED headlights, heated rear seats and leather upholstered armrests.
The Prestige ($77,850) comes with HD Matrix-design LED headlights with animation and washers, LED taillights with animation, powered soft-closing doors, leather-covered dashboard with contrasting stitching, rear side window sunshades, aluminum-look controls, head-up display, adaptive cruise control with Traffic Jam/Intersection/Turn Assist, active lane assistant and road sign recognition.
A Luxury package available for the Prestige model comes with Valcona leather seats, more leather covering additional parts of the interior, 18-way heated/ventilated and massaging front seats, an Alcantara headliner, dual-pane acoustic glass and an air purification system with different fragrances.
All versions may be ordered with a Cold Weather package, bringing a heated steering wheel and heated rear seats. A trailer hitch, wood inlays, extended leather surfaces, and rear side airbags are all on the Q8 range’s options list.
Premium Plus and Prestige models are available with an S Line package that comes with 21-in wheels and more aggressive styling elements all around. A version of the Black Optic package can be added to the S Line package as well.
Premium Plus and Prestige are also eligible for 22-in alloy wheels, an adaptive air suspension system, rear-wheel steering, red-painted brake calipers, summer performance tires and a full leather package.
Prestige models can be further upgraded with night vision with large animal/pedestrian detection and a 23-speaker/1,920-watt Bang & Olufsen audio system.
The Q8 has been crash-tested by both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Both agencies give the Q8 their top scores, but there is a catch. The IIHS only makes the Q8 a Top Safety Pick+ when the HD Matrix-design LED headlights are fitted.
With 2021 come more standard active safety and driver-assistance features, such as standard Audi side assist (blind-spot monitoring) and pre sense rear. The latter system can prepare the Q8 for a rear-end Collison by taking measures such as pre-tensioning the seatbelts, closing windows and flashing the hazard lights at a high frequency.
Other standard safety features include automatic emergency braking, automatic high beams, lane-departure warning and front and rear parking sensors. Adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist and traffic sign recognition are available on the Premium Plus and standard on the Prestige.
Behind the Wheel
The Q8 exudes elegance and sophistication. The dashboard is wide and dominated by screens — three, in fact: an all-digital instrument cluster that Audi refers to as Virtual Cockpit, and two touchscreens in the dash. The larger one on top relays navigation, audio and the like, while the bottom screen controls climate functions.
Although the Q8 offers an optional air suspension, the standard setup is still adaptive and controls the body through quick corners to combat any excessive leaning while also absorbing the punishment dished out by bad road surfaces. Out of the driving modes, Sport is the most pleasantly responsive and would be our choice for 95% of the time spent in the Q8’s well-shaped and well-cushioned driver’s seat.
The optional air suspension brings 10 inches of ground clearance. In this off-road mode, the Q8 will engage hill descent control if necessary and adjust the traction/stability control automatically.
The Q8 can sprint from 0-to-60 mph in 5.6 seconds, which is pretty darn quick, especially for something weighing around 5,000 pounds.
Not as coupe-like as a BMW X6 but not a conventional SUV either, the Q8 can accommodate three adults in the back seat. Up front is a spacious area enlivened by technology and great design. Cargo space behind the sliding and reclining 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats measures 30.5 cu ft., expanding to 60.7 cu ft. when they’re folded down.
Other Cars to Consider
2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe — Mercedes’ version of this trend takes the impressive GLE midsize luxury crossover and gives it elements of, you guessed it, a coupe.
2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe – The standard Cayenne already has a coupe-like design, but the new Cayenne Coupe takes the philosophy further. It has the Porsche handling and a premium price.
Used BMW X6 M — This 567-hp beast offers top performance in a curvy attractive shape. Space is somewhat compromised due to the sloping rear roofline, but it’ll make any errand a blast.
Questions You May Ask
Is the Q8 bigger than the Audi Q7?
Logic would suggest that the higher the number, the bigger the vehicle. That’s not the case here. Measuring from bumper to bumper, the Q8 is three inches shorter. But since the two vehicles share underpinnings, it has the same wheelbase (the distance between axles). The Q8 has two rows of seating, compared with the Q7’s three, so it’s a little more lavish with passenger space.
Is the 2021 Audi Q8 going to replace the Q7?
No. The 3-row Q7 is an important part of Audi’s portfolio. The Q8 is something of an extravagance, a flagship SUV.
Is the 2021 Audi Q8 more expensive than the 2021 Q7?
The 2021 Q7 range kicks off with a smaller engine than what’s in the Q8, so that immediately makes it more affordable. As we just said above, the Q8 is a “want” purchase rather than a “need.”
What does the Audi Q8 compare to?
The Q8 competes with large 5-passenger coupe-inspired SUVs like the BMW X6 and Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe. Like those models, Audi offers performance variants in the SQ8 and RS Q8.
While even a base Q8 Premium brings a lot of features and panache, we’re more inclined to recommend the Premium Plus with the new Executive Package. That will buy a lot of premium features along with driving aids like adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist. If your pockets are slightly deeper, the Prestige model is prestigious indeed, available with indulgences like massaging seats and an ionizing and fragrance-releasing air-filtration system. Whichever you choose, you’ll be treated to an Audi flagship that is far more versatile and capable than an executive sedan. Find an Audi Q8 for sale