Independent, Expert EV Reviews & Advice Since 2006

Audi SQ8 Sportback e-tron Review

The Audi SQ8 Sportback e-tron is an impressive and aspirational EV, offering performance, a spacious interior and a high-tech cockpit.

  • Audi SQ8 e-tron
  • Audi SQ8 e-tron
  • Audi SQ8 e-tron
  • Audi SQ8 e-tron
  • Audi SQ8 e-tron
  • Audi SQ8 e-tron
  • Audi SQ8 e-tron
  • Audi SQ8 e-tron
  • Audi SQ8 e-tron
  • Audi SQ8 e-tron
  • Audi SQ8 e-tron
Green Car Guide Rating: 9/10

Key stats

  • Model/Engine size:   Audi SQ8 Sportback e-tron 370 kW
  • Fuel:   Electric
  • Electric driving range (WLTP): 276 miles
  • Maximum rapid charging rate:   170 kW

Summary

  • Impressive performance figures: 496 hp of power, 973 Nm of torque, 0-62 mph in 4.5 seconds
  • Bigger battery/longer electric range than previous-generation e-tron
  • High-tech cockpit
  • Driving experience not helped by 2,725 kg kerb weight

Background

The Audi e-tron has become the Audi Q8 e-tron, to differentiate it from other Audi e-tron models, and there’s now an SQ8 variant, offering more performance than the standard Q8, as well as a larger battery than that in the previous-generation e-tron. So should you opt for the ‘S’ version…?

Audi SQ8 e-tron

Audi SQ8 e-tron

Design & Engineering

The SQ8 e-tron is basically an SUV, in a ‘Sportback’ body style as tested, but it sits quite low to the ground, so it looks more like a large coupe with 21-inch wheels and wide 285/40 tyres.

Measuring 4,915mm length, the SQ8 e-tron is big, so you would hope that it’s spacious on the inside; the 528-litre boot doesn’t disappoint, and this increases to 1,567 litres with the rear seats folded. There’s a big compartment under the boot floor, and a large 62-litre front trunk which can easily accommodate two sets of charging cables.

Passengers also get lots of space, and there’s a deep storage compartment between the two front seats; a phone can easily get lost in here. The dashboard has an upmarket and high-tech feel.

The SQ8 e-tron has a 114 kWh battery (with 106 kWh usable capacity) with one electric motor on the front axle and two electric motors on the rear axle, giving 496hp of power, a huge 973 Nm of torque, and all-wheel drive.

One benefit of the Audi SQ8 e-tron’s weight is that it has an impressive towing capacity of 1,800 kg.

Audi SQ8 e-tron

Audi SQ8 e-tron

Audi SQ8 Sportback e-tron Driving Experience

The Audi SQ8 Sportback e-tron has impressive performance figures: 496 hp of power, 973 Nm of torque, and 0-62 mph in 4.5 seconds. These compare to 408 PS, 664 Nm and 6.5 seconds for the Q8 55 e-tron. You also get lots of drive modes: Efficiency, Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, Individual, Off-Road and All-Road. And you can choose D or S by pulling the slightly unconventional gear selector, located under a hand rest, towards you, as well as having the ability to change the level of brake regeneration via the steering wheel-mounted paddles.

The SQ8 e-tron has air suspension, which means that it can be adjusted for different drive modes, and the car’s ride height can also be increased. And with quattro all-wheel drive, the SQ8 e-tron has lots of grip.

So the SQ8 e-tron has an arsenal of weaponry that should make it an impressive driver’s car. However there’s an enemy present: the car’s 2,725 kg kerb weight – with the massive 114 kWh battery being a significant contributing factor in this. The result is that it’s a challenge to find any agility in the SQ8 e-tron’s driving experience. And although primary ride quality is decent in Comfort drive mode, when using Dynamic mode, in combination with the low profile 285/40 tyres, the ride is firm and impact from potholes can be felt by the car’s occupants. The SQ8 e-tron is comfortable and very impressive overall on the motorway, the large tyres can contribute to road noise on certain surfaces.

The SQ8 e-tron’s cockpit is high-tech and user-friendly. There’s a central touchscreen with very high resolution graphics for mapping etc, which has five shortcut buttons on the right-hand side of the screen for home, radio, media, phone and nav, which works really well, and you wonder why all manufacturers don’t include these obvious buttons. And even better, if you’re using Apple CarPlay, these shortcut buttons are still visible.

Below the main central touchscreen is another separate screen, primarily featuring climate controls. This is another brilliant feature, because it means that whatever you’ve got on the main touchscreen, the climate controls are always accessible. However some other buttons have also been sneaked onto the top of this screen, for functions such as charging and raising the height of the suspension, and another button allows you display radio stations in the top part of the screen.

There’s also an instrument display in front of the driver, which you can adjust to view different things, such as the satnav, at varying sizes. And then you’ve got the head-up display. This combination of information in the SQ8 e-tron is much better than the latest cars that have just one touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard for all driving information and car controls.

Drive modes are selected via two buttons under the climate control screen, which are a little lost between all the other controls; a more prominent position for the drive modes would be more helpful. But these controls are in a high visibility position compared to the driver’s seat memory buttons, which are really hidden away out of sight at the top of the driver’s door storage area.

One excellent feature is the ability to press a button on the end of the left-hand stalk to switch off the lane departure warning system.

We tested the Q8 e-tron with ‘virtual door mirrors’; our SQ8 came with traditional door mirrors, which we prefer.

Audi SQ8 e-tron

Audi SQ8 e-tron

Audi SQ8 Sportback e-tron Electric Range and Charging

The Audi SQ8 Sportback e-tron has a WLTP combined electric driving range of 276 miles. After a week on test the real-world range averaged 256 miles.

The SQ8 e-tron’s maximum ultra-rapid DC charging rate is 170 kW, which should translate to a 10% to 80% charge in 31 minutes. Maximum AC charging capacity is 11 kW, although 22 kW can be specified as an option.

One useful feature of the SQ8 e-tron is the fact that it has charging sockets on both front wings (Type 2 on the passenger’s side, and Type 2 and CCS on the driver’s side). There are even buttons that you can press that automatically open and close the charging covers.

The Audi SQ8 Sportback e-tron features a heat pump as standard.

If you want an efficient electric car, best to look away now, because the SQ8 e-tron has an electricity consumption figure of 2.3 miles/kWh; an efficient EV should be managing around 4 miles/kWh.

How to charge an electric car

Audi SQ8 e-tron

Audi SQ8 e-tron

Price And Model Range

The Audi SQ8 Sportback e-tron Black Edition is priced at £100,080; our test car had one option of ultra blue metallic paint (£795), taking the total price of our car to £100,795, so the SQ8 e-tron can’t be described as an affordable EV. A Vorsprung model is also available, the Audi SQ8 also comes in an ‘SUV’ body style, and there’s also the standard Q8 e-tron.

Audi SQ8 e-tron

Audi SQ8 e-tron

Conclusion

The Audi SQ8 Sportback e-tron is an aspirational car, thanks to the Audi badge, the sporty SUV/crossover styling, and the upmarket and user-friendly high-tech interior. It’s spacious, the bigger battery delivers more range than the previous-generation e-tron, and it’s a luxurious way to cover lots of motorway miles. However the ‘S’ in its model name suggests that this is a sporty car, which could be misleading. Although the statistics of 496 hp of power, 973 Nm of torque and 0-62 mph acceleration in 4.5 seconds (along with the grip from the quattro all-wheel drive system) sound impressive on paper, these figures don’t translate to a sporty driving experience due to a lack of agility; the 2,725 kg kerb weight is a key factor responsible for this. The Audi SQ8 Sportback e-tron is awarded a Green Car Guide rating of 9 out of 10.

Car facts and figures Audi SQ8 Sportback e-tron Review

  • Test electric driving range: 256 miles
  • Consumption (WLTP): 2.3 miles/kWh
  • CO2 emissions (WLTP): 0 g/km
  • Vehicle tax rate (VED):   £0
  • Benefit in Kind (BIK) company car tax liability (2024/25): 2%
  • Price:   £100,080
  • Insurance group:   50
  • Power:   496 hp
  • Torque:   973 Nm
  • Max speed:   130 mph
  • 0-62 mph:   5.1 seconds (4.5 seconds boost)
  • Weight:   2,725 kg
  • Towing capacity:   1,800 kg
Paul Clarke

Review by:
Paul Clarke, GreenCarGuide Editor