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2024 Audi SQ8 E-Tron lives to be the canyon-carver of SUVs

Attending to drive Audi’s quickest electrical SUV—the all-wheel-drive, tri-motor 2024 SQ8 E-Tron—on sunny, Southern California highways for a couple of hours this previous week was shaping as much as be a formality.

However then darkish clouds moved in and the skies opened up, simply as I used to be given a demanding canyon-road drive route and handed a keyfob to the SQ8. 

Oh, that’s a great factor. My drive alternative had immediately turn out to be far more attention-grabbing. Audi has constructed its status, gasoline or electrical, on Quattro all-wheel-drive and its surefootedness in adversarial climate circumstances. That soaker of a day, a greasy sheen on the highway, and a puddled, sometimes-gritty winding route chosen for dry circumstances altogether added as much as an excellent take a look at of the poise, grip, and confidence that this method brings—even when the floor is slick. 

The expertise permits me to explain with much more conviction the distinction that having three motors versus two really brings—different than simply faster acceleration. Actually, it’s the SQ8 E-Tron’s power versus some other electrical SUV, together with different three-motor fashions.

However first, the sporty variant has some spectacular specs. As an alternative of the two-motor system within the Q8 E-Tron, offering one motor for every axle, the 2024 Audi SQ8 E-tron packages two motors collectively on the rear wheels, including 94 hp and 228 lb-ft of torque for a complete of 496 hp and 718 lb-ft. Audi notes that the SQ8 can launch from 0-60 mph in simply 4.2 seconds (versus 5.1 seconds for the Q8 E-Tron), and its 130-mph prime pace might be maintained in Autobahn-type high-speed driving for at the very least 12 miles throughout a spread of circumstances.

There’s no bodily connection between the 2 rear wheels, and that enables the 2 rear motors to ship completely different ranges of energy in cornering. As much as 162 lb-ft extra torque can go to the skin rear wheel than the within one, whereas making use of the brake pads on the entrance inside wheel to help cornering. 

Audi SQ8 E-Tron tri-motor system

Audi SQ8 E-Tron tri-motor system

Audi SQ8: Dynamic push-pull between rear motors

Merely put, meaning all three motors are in a position to proceed offering ahead propulsion, whereas the system helps push-pull with torque-vectoring in a approach that will get you across the nook faster, with out shedding composure.

That lack of interruption in ahead momentum is the signature dance transfer of the tri-motor system. On the moist canyon roads, pushing proper up towards the traction limits of the tires, the SQ8’s programs reeled within the dynamics of this 6,118-pound SUV, making it really feel nimble nearly past perception. Sure, within the rain. 

On a few particularly tight corners, with a number of area and throwing slightly extra zeal into it, I managed to get some wiggle out of the tail whereas operating in Dynamic mode, which faucets into all 496 hp, probably. However once more, it was rapidly restrained as I felt these motors do their job volleying the SQ8 again to stability. 

With each stability help turned off this can be a tail-out torchbearer, however what the entire package collectively permits whereas barely sliding is superb. 

Why the SQ8 E-Tron’s drive programs work so nicely has quite a bit to do with response time: Torque vectoring is 5 instances extra responsive with electrical motors than with an inside combustion powertrain, in keeping with Audi. 

2024 Audi SQ8 E-Tron

2024 Audi SQ8 E-Tron

2024 Audi SQ8 E-Tron

2024 Audi SQ8 E-Tron

2024 Audi SQ8 E-Tron

2024 Audi SQ8 E-Tron

SQ8 E-Tron: Optimizes an already nice package deal

Physique management and friskier-feeling steering are additionally a part of the improved dynamics. Versus the E-Tron, the 2024 Audi Q8 E-Tron household will get a faster 14.6:1 steering ratio with stronger on-center response, revised damper tuning, stiffer anti-sway bars and control-arm bushings, and revised tuning of the chassis and stability management programs. A four-wheel air suspension is included within the SQ8, with longitudinal elements reworked for improved dynamics. Plus the Q8 E-Tron lineup carries over the E-Tron’s very easily blended braking system. 

The 2024 Q8 E-Tron mannequin lineup  additionally will get extra vary. Audi has boosted the battery capability to 114 kwh gross (106 kwh usable)—up from 95 kwh gross (about 84 kwh usable) within the earlier E-Tron, bringing an EPA vary enchancment of about 20% all through the lineup. The pack is identical measurement and even has the identical case as its predecessor, however the enchancment comes from increased cell-level vitality density plus a shift within the inside configuration of the modules. 

Audi emphasizes that as certainly one of its S fashions, the SQ8 is a performance-oriented automobile however isn’t meant to be certainly one of its most excessive RS efficiency halo automobiles. That stated, it delivers much more efficiency than its S-Line fashions, which basically simply deliver a efficiency look. 

2024 Audi SQ8 E-Tron

2024 Audi SQ8 E-Tron

The SQ8 is obtainable in SUV and Sportback physique types, with the important thing distinction being the roofline. Sportback fashions get extra of a steady arc beginning behind the entrance seats, whereas SUV variations get one thing nearer to a standard SUV roofline. The 2 are literally fairly shut in usable inside area, though getting in or out of the again seats of the Sportback is a little more difficult. Huge-box retailer buyers can even respect the better cargo top of the SUV. 

The SQ8 E-Tron features a panoramic sunroof, plus the dual-pane acoustic window glass that’s non-compulsory on the Q8 E-Tron. Audi claims it’s as quiet or quieter than the A8 sedan, and it felt that approach to me. 

On the best way from the Q8 S E-Tron—the very limited-delivery mannequin that briefly launched the three-motor format with the previous mannequin—to the SQ8 E-Tron, Audi has improved aerodynamic effectivity by as a lot as 6%, aided by new entrance air curtains, energetic grille shutters, wheel spoilers, and underbody aerodynamics. It helps with effectivity and likewise in maintaining the cabin quiet.

Audi SQ8: Spicier design particulars, wide-track look

The SQ8 additionally will get a coordinated set of spicier design particulars. Pink-painted fender flares add 1.5 inches of physique width to permit an extra 1.5 inches of  monitor width that mix to offer this mannequin simply sufficient of a distinction in stance. The grille apertures are bigger—sure, there may be one right here—and a matte-metallic materials with simply the best trace of gloss is utilized in entrance, on the rear, and for rocker-panel accents. The Q8 E-Tron can be the primary ‘S’ automobile from Audi that shifts to black-edged badging. 

2024 Audi SQ8 E-Tron

2024 Audi SQ8 E-Tron

Inside, the SQ8 E-Tron has upgraded upholstery, plus carbon-square sprint trim rather than the Q8 E-Tron’s open-pore wooden, and a three-spoke steering wheel (spherical, thanks!). The entrance seats are incredible, with simply the correct amount of thigh and facet assist to carry you in place for high-g cornering however to not squeeze too tightly. 

Two completely different trim ranges of the SQ8 are supplied: Premium Plus, and Status. They begin at about $11,000 greater than the Q8 two-motor mannequin, with the Premium Plus at $90,995 within the SUV model or $93,795 as a Sportback. 4-zone local weather management, a warmth pump, and pre-conditioning are all included, whereas LED matrix headlights, a head-up show, and soft-closing doorways are a part of the Status package deal.

My tester, an SQ8 E-Tron SUV in Status guise, with a Magnet Grey exterior and Arras Pink inside (with properly coordinated contrasting grey stitching), added as much as $102,345 with the inclusion of the non-compulsory 22-inch five-arm titanium-finish wheels carrying sticky Hankook Ventus S1 Evo 3 rubber that decrease its EPA vary score to 218 miles. Over almost 70 miles, my take a look at SQ8 E-Tron indicated I’d averaged 1.7 miles per kwh—driving fairly rapidly up and down grades and with no regard for effectivity, and operating the defogger a number of the time. That implies a worst-case-scenario vary of round 180 miles.

A dual-port charger is offered on the E-Tron, bringing an improve from the usual 9.6-kw onboard charger to a 19.2-kw functionality—and the flexibleness to plug in for 240-volt charging on both facet of the automobile for the height cost fee. All Q8 E-Trons additionally embrace a cell cost cable that may deal with 120- or 240-volt charging. 

The CCS/Combo port for fast-charging is simply on the driving force’s facet, and with the next 170-kw cost fee it will probably get from 10-80% in simply 31 minutes. The SQ8 E-Tron comes with two years of limitless Electrify America charging, and with Plug & Cost performance you’ll have the ability to plug into greater than 3,500 fast-chargers within the U.S. and never want to fret about cost particulars. 

2024 Audi SQ8 E-Tron

2024 Audi SQ8 E-Tron

Audi SQ8: Anything so fast and composed within the corners?

How does the SQ8 E-Tron measure as much as rivals? The BMW iX M60, Mercedes-Benz AMG EQE SUV, and Tesla Mannequin X Plaid all present extra straight-line punch than the SQ8, and the Plaid additionally gives a tri-motor format. Nevertheless it’s laborious to think about the latter remaining as calm and composed whereas being hustled alongside moist canyon roads fairly just like the Audi.

Rolling on to drier roads—briefly as I did, by the tip of my drive—the SQ8 dialed in increased, jaw-dropping cornering gs and pin-you-into-your seat acceleration with out beating me up. With all of the traction and poise constructed into its drive and chassis programs, it’s a reminder that in the true world, no drama is the perfect drama. 

Audi lined journey and lodging bills for Motor Authority to deliver you this firsthand report.

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