2024 Audi SQ8 e-tron Sportback, an SUV that proves it’s practical and can be fun

2024 Audi SQ8 e-tron Sportback, an SUV that proves it’s practical and can be fun

  • Audi is upgrading the all-electric Q8 to the SQ8 e-tron and adding power and torque to produce 496 hp and 719 lb-ft in a highly practical and versatile family hauler that will make suburban living a real blast. EPA range is 235 miles.
  • The problem is that prices start at $89,900 even before destination is added.
  • Available in sloping Sportback or square SUV form, the SQ8 is now in showrooms.

Let’s say you’ve reached a point in life where responsibility outweighs the good times, at least in your choice of vehicles. And let’s say you have a spouse/significant other who tells you to “stop messing around with those old foreign cars that never start.” She says you have a lot of money.

Get the Audi SQ8 e-tron. Tell your SO that the S in SQ8 stands for “Safety” and the Q stands for “Quality”. Or some of these abbreviations. Then go spend all $89,900 on one of these and make everyone happy. Especially you, because the SQ8 e-tron is surprisingly fun to drive.

You wouldn’t necessarily think you’d be given the fact that it seats seven full-size adults comfortably and has a modular interior so it will accept up to 56.4 cubic feet of cargo with the two rear rows of seats folded flat.

Audi engineers took the practical and completely usable Q8 and added an additional 94 hp and 228 lb-ft of torque until the thing was absolutely packed with cross-utility power—496 hp and 719 lb-ft.

Put that in a large format that weighs nearly 6,000 pounds but is spread out in a near-perfect 50/50 weight distribution, and it sure doesn’t feel like nearly three tons in the works and you start to see that life will go on, in fact, it’s worth living.

It elevates the humble and ubiquitous crossover into the realm of realized pleasure.

Audi boasts that the SQ8 e-tron offers improved acceleration, increased handling dynamics and increased towing capabilities thanks to its three-motor quattro all-wheel drive system. “The new model expands the enthusiast appeal of an SUV already designed to set the standard in seamless electric vehicle ownership, making it the all-electric SUV for customers who enjoy taking the winding road to their destination.

Now, ordinarily, such exaggeration would be dismissed as marketing heroics. But I just spent a day driving the SQ8 over all my favorite roads above Malibu, and while it doesn’t quite shift like a two-door, in its seven different sporty drive modes it raises the bar for the humble, ubiquitous crossover. To the world of perceived pleasure.

Even more impressive is the new car’s responsiveness, thanks to three electric motors, one in the front and two in the back. The outboard rear motor spins up to 162 more pound-feet of torque than the inboard rear motor when you go through a corner, taking advantage of the torque vectoring available in this powertrain configuration.

When you multiply that by the engine’s gearing, the number jumps to 1,550 lb-ft, Audi says. And around you, much faster than you expected.

That 496 horsepower and 719 pound-feet also accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.2 seconds, which is impressive by the standards of most crossovers today. It’ll stop just as impressive, thanks to fixed six-piston calipers (in a crossover!) in front of the 15.7-inch steel rotors.

I happened to own a regular Q8 e-tron the same week I drove the SQ8, and they are like two different cars, especially when pressed. If you can, you should definitely get the SQ8.

On top of that performance, the SQ8 improves on the well-equipped Q8 by adding SQ pieces throughout, from the rocker panel accents and wide fenders to the unique look of the front and rear fascias. You can upgrade this one with 22-inch wheels if you wish, or you can just use the dubbing that comes standard.

Inside, there are 12-way adjustable electric seats with the S logo embossed in “Valcona” leather, as well as distinctive and subtle carbon inlays here and there. Two large displays control the Audi MMI system: 10.1 inches at the top and 8.6 inches at the bottom, both with haptic feedback when touched.

There are many options available to crossover buyers, largely because the world seems crazy about crossovers. But the SQ8 e-tron Sportback and SUV are two vehicles you should definitely consider if your shopping list is approaching six-figure territory.

Both models are available in showrooms now.

Is Audi on your shopping list for an all-electric luxury car or crossover? Please comment below.

Photo of Mark Vaughn's head

Mark Vaughn grew up in a Ford family and spent many hours holding a trouble light over a straight-six car miraculously fed by a single-cylinder carburetor while his father cursed Ford, all of its products, and everyone who ever worked there. This was the introduction to objective criticism of automobiles. He began writing for the City News Service in Los Angeles, then moved to Europe and became editor of an automobile magazine called, creatively, Auto. He decided that Auto should cover Formula 1, sports models and touring cars, and no one stopped him! From there he gave an interview to Autoweek at the 1989 Frankfurt Motor Show and has been with us ever since.

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