Audi started using the e-tron name to brand its electric cars starting with the German auto show in Frankfurt in 2009. The first production car to bear the name was the A3 Sportback e-tron PHEV introduced in Geneva in 2013. That car came with an 8.8 kWh battery and a range of 31 miles (NEDC). In real world driving, it was lucky to go more than 18 miles before the gas engine kicked in. Many people who bought one wondered whether the extra money was really worth it.
The curtain falls and time passes. Over the past 10 years, Audi has been making huge strides toward becoming a fully electric car company. The culmination of all that dedication and hard work will arrive in showrooms next year when the new e-tron Q8 crossover SUV and its twin, the Sportback version, goes on sale.
Both cars will be available in three flavors, according to Engadget:
Q8 50 — 250 kW (335 HP) with 490 lb-ft of torque, 0-60 in 6.0 seconds and a range 306 miles (WEDC) for the SUV and 313 miles for the Sportback. 89 kWh battery with up to 150 kW charging capacity. Base price starts at €74,400 or around $72,500 at current exchange rates.
Q8 55 — 300 kW peak (402 HP) with 490 lb-ft of torque, 0-60 in 5.6 seconds and a range of 361 miles (WEDC) for the SUV and 372 miles for the Sportback. The 106 kWh battery can charge at up to 170 kW and Audi says the car can recharge from 10 to 80% SOC — enough for an additional 260 miles of driving — in just over a half hour using an L3 DC fast charger. No prices have been announced.
SQ8 — This top of the line model boasts three motors with a total output of 370 kW (496 HP) and 717 ft-lb of torque, 0-60 in with 307 miles (SUV) and 319 miles (Sportback) of range. The S model is software limited to a top speed of 130 MPH and a 0-60 of 5.6 seconds. Battery size and charging ability are the same as the Q8 55.
Audi Electric Motor Upgrade
The new e-tron line boasts more efficient motors than its predecessors. With 14 coils instead of 12, they can generate a stronger magnetic field for roughly the same amount of electrical input as the older motors required. A stronger field can generate more torque when necessary, but also step that power back when it isn’t needed to help extend the vehicle’s range, Engadget says. The Q8 Sportback has a drag coefficient of just 0.24 — the same as the Polestar 2 — and the Q8 SUV has a drag coefficient of 0.27, which is slightly better than the VW ID.4.
“Looking at the current Audi e-tron, it’s clear that we’re starting with a very solid base of technical features as we move forward into the Q8 e-tron family,” Audi spokesperson Benedikt Still said during a press preview last week. “We’ll be carrying over retaining this strong character in the new model, groundbreaking features such as the digital matrix headlights or the virtual side mirrors are still at the technical forefront today.”
The Q8 has about all the high tech geewizardy anyone could ask for. It offers nearly four dozen driver assist features based on data gathered from as many as five radar sensors, five optical cameras, and a dozen ultrasonic pickups. This plethora of incoming information is enough to let the Q8 park itself via the myAudi app.
And as with every e-tron released since the line went electric in 2018, the Q8 will come equipped with Audi’s Matrix LED headlights. But unlike previous model years, the Q8’s headlights will finally be ADB capable following a long-awaited NHTSA ruling this past February and, as such they’ll have three new features: enhanced traffic information, a lane light with a direction indicator, and an orientation light on country roads.
The two part roof is panoramic and controlled electronically, as are the integrated sunshades. Audi is also offering 4-zone automatic climate control as an option as well as massaging functions for the synthetic leather clad seats. Physical buttons on the dashboard are kept to a minimum. Virtually all of the cabin’s features are controlled through a pair of central infotainment screens — a 10.1-inch upper and a 8.6-inch lower — or by voice command.
The window to order the Q8 e-tron and the Q8 Sportback opens later this month. Audi is aiming for an initial market launch in Germany and major European markets at the end of next February, with arrivals to the US happening by the end of April.
Truth to tell, Audi has been mixing and matching the e-tron label and the new Q8 e-tron is not all that different from the e-tron of today. It also confuses people by continuing to offer gasoline-powered models of the Q8. Unlike Volkswagen which bundles all its electric cars under the ID brand or Mercedes which does the same with its EQ lineup, it’s not always obvious to customers which models are electric and which are not.
Overall, however, Audi builds some sweet rides for those who are in the market for a luxury automobile, and the Q8 e-tron twins will not disappoint. We here at CleanTechnica would be happy to add one to our long term test fleet. Do you still have our address over there in Ingolstadt? If not, we would be happy to send it along.
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