Audi Q8 facelift review: Mildly does it

    Audi’s flagship SUV gets a minor makeover; is it too little, or does the Q8 already have what it takes to compete today?

    Published on Nov 08, 2023 04:30:00 PM

    15,141 Views

    2024 Audi Q8 facelift
    Make : Audi
    Model : Q8

    The Audi Q8 arrived back in 2018 and became the brand’s flagship SUV. Five years later, you’d expect a significant update, but what we have here is a rather mild one. This, of course, means the new Q8 sits on the same Volkswagen Group MLB Evo platform, but also looks very similar to the outgoing car. It offers the same choice of powerplants, which include diesel and petrol engines; for our market though, keeping in line with Audi India’s strategy, there will be no diesel. Also not to be confused, there is the electric Q8 – the Q8 e-tron – however, that one is actually the updated e-tron SUV with the Q8 moniker added at the time of its facelift, which incidentally did see a more significant update.

    So is this update too small and insignificant, or is the Q8 already very capable? That’s what I was keen to know given that Audi held the new Q8’s global media drive in South Africa.

    2024 Audi Q8 facelift front
    Changes are limited to a new grille design and new HD Matrix laser lights.
     

    Audi Q8 facelift exterior design

    The Q8 is already a very handsome car and those who like how it looks will be happy that the facelift hasn’t messed up or produced a ‘tacked on’ new face. Even soft parts like the bumper and grille are largely the same. The overall grille shape remains the same, but the pattern on it is now hexagonal instead of squares and there are L or J – depending on which side of the grille you are looking at – inserts, which on some trims will be painted in an offset colour. Our car had the black pack, which meant all of it was painted black, including the grille surround that merges with the dark headlight area giving the front end a wider look. The chunky grille surround also now looks less bulky. At the lower edge, the bumper profile is very similar and the air intakes at the two edges get larger diamond-shaped openings.

    The functional change is within the headlights, which are now HD Matrix LED laser lights on top-spec cars. The styling of the light signature is also new and, interestingly, you have different designs to choose from, so your Q8 can have a different-looking headlight from another one. There are four choices and they basically light up or keep off different segments to create a different style. The laser high beam lights up at speeds 70kph and above and increases the high beam range. Signifying the laser headlight is a small blue LED in each headlight. As before, the matrix beam means the 24 LEDs light up individually and constantly adjust to prevent dazzling the oncoming traffic.

    New HD Matrix LED laser lights have four customisable lighting patterns.

    On the side, it’s the same as before, the only changes include the model name now being inscribed in a subtle way on the B pillar – as with all new Audis – and the new alloy wheel patterns, which come in 21, 22 or 23 inches depending on the model grade.

    At the rear, it’s all familiar territory save for the rear tail-lights, which are now OLED units with a new signature pattern that can also be customised with four options to choose from. Like in the Q5, the digital OLED rear lights have a proximity indication function, which lights up all the digital OLED segments if a vehicle comes within two metres of the stationary Q8’s rear end, thus warning the driver ahead to slow down. Both headlight and tail-light units also have various lock and unlock sequences. In keeping with its new corporate identity change, the Audi logo is also now the flat and non-chrome 2D unit.

    Like the headlights, new OLED tail lamps also have four customisable patterns.

    Audi Q8 facelift interior and features

    Like on the outside, changes to the insides are also minimal and it’s just new decor that is available now in three patterns using either a wood, aluminium or carbon-fibre finish, and new onboard apps like Spotify that are now baked into the Q8’s operating system. The Audi virtual cockpit display also now shows warnings, lane change and traffic light information in full HD quality.

    2024 Audi Q8 facelift dashboard
    Interiors near-identical; only difference is a choice of wood, aluminium or carbon-fibre trim. 

    At the Munich Motor Show, Audi offered a glimpse of its new electronics and infotainment system, which will debut on the new Q6 e-tron. The updated Q8 does not feature it as the new system cannot be supported on the older architecture. So while the changes and new bits are minimal, the Q8 remains a well-equipped car with four-zone climate control, panoramic sunroof, head-up display and a B&O music system, as well as heated, ventilated and massage seats. In terms of safety equipment, there are eight airbags and an ADAS suite.

    Space, too, is naturally the same as before and that means there’s plenty of head and legroom on offer even at the rear. With no third row and a sloping coupe roofline like on rival X6, the Q8 rear is a very comfy place to be in. At 605 litres, the boot is large and can easily hold a lot of holiday and outstation luggage.

    2024 Audi Q8 facelift boot
    With the rear seats folded boot space increases from 605 litres to 1,755 litres.

    Quality is top notch as well, and the materials and controls all feel good to touch and operate; my favourite is the volume control knob that operates with satisfying clicks. What’s not neat though is the twin-screen MMI system, which requires you to take your eyes off the road and hit the exact area on the touchscreen to adjust things like temperature and blower control. 

    Audi Q8 facelift engine and performance

    There’s no change to the powertrain so, as before, the 3.0-litre direct injection turbo petrol puts out 340hp and 500Nm of torque and is mated to an 8-speed auto driving all four wheels. Internationally, there is also a 3.0-litre diesel in two states of tune but as with Audi India’s no diesel strategy, we don’t see that unit here. What we also won’t see, at least not at launch, is the sporty SQ8, which now runs the hot 4.0 V8 TFSI that puts out 507hp and 770 Nm of torque, or the hot RS Q8 that’s also set to receive a similar upgrade.

    2024 Audi Q8 facelift rear action
    Power delivery is strong and linear all through the rev range.

    What’s the standard TFSI like then from behind the wheel? Like before, it’s very pleasing. Performance is more than adequate, Audi claims a 0-100kph time of 5.6 seconds and that’s plenty for a large SUV. Power delivery is also strong, it comes in from just below 2,000rpm and there’s no break or tapering off as you climb higher up the tachometer. If you like that mid-range punch, you’ll miss that here, but as far as outright power is concerned, it’s nice and strong all through.

    What’s also nice is that extending this engine doesn’t impact its refinement; even at higher revs, it remains smooth and feels really very refined, especially at cruising speeds. When coasting between 55-160kph, the engine can shut down completely with the mild hybrid system supporting all other functions.

    2024 Audi Q8 engine
    340hp, 3.0-litre V6 TFSI engine carries forward from the pre-facelift model.

    Audi Q8 facelift ride and handling

    Occupants will also enjoy the ride and handling balance that is really well-judged. Over the few bad stretches that we managed to find, the ride was really nice. The air springs soak up bumps and ruts nicely and without giving you that soft and floaty feeling and even in Sport mode the springs never feel too firm. And what’s neat is that this does not come at a compromise in handling. Around corners, the Q8 remains remarkably level, especially when you consider that it’s a large and heavy SUV. The air suspension with a continuously adaptive damping system does a fine job and you can easily get enthusiastic around corners and you will exit them with a smile.

    2024 Audi Q8 facelift Sergius driving
    Steering feel gives you a sense of confidence and handling is sure-footed.

    The steering has enough weight at speeds and it gives you a sense of confidence behind the wheel. At parking speeds, effort is not single-finger twirly light, but it’s just fine and never feels heavy.

    Audi Q8 facelift price and verdict

    Judging this car is quite the task. Look at it from the point of view of an update and it’s disappointing to see very little done. At first glance, and even if you gaze for a while, the facelift looks just like its predecessor, the insides are nearly identical, the power output remains the same, and besides the added apps and the new head- and tail-lights, the equipment level remains the same too.

    2024 Audi Q8 facelift rear static

    But given that it’s a mild update, prices should remain similar to the outgoing car, so expect the Q8 to start at around Rs 1.2 crore when it does arrive sometime in the second half of next year. Which makes it a sensible buy, because when you look at it as a whole, without its predecessor in the balance, there’s nothing to complain about really. Performance is decent, its ride and handling is surprisingly good, the insides are well-built and it’s got all the equipment you’d expect. So it will all come down to weighing up your buying priority, whether it’s a sensible buy or a whimsical one.

    Also see:

    2024 Audi Q8 video review

    Tech Specs

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