New Audi SQ8 2023 facelift review: fast and expensive

The Audi SQ8 has been treated to an update, but it remains a rapid and practical SUV

  • 4.0 out of 5

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    As with the regular Q8, the SQ8 gets no major dynamic changes. That means it sticks with the well-proven 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8, in this installation tuned to produce 500bhp and 770Nm of torque. There’s an eight-speed automatic gearbox and, of course, quattro four-wheel drive. Audi claims this package can the 2.2-tonne SQ8 from 0-62mph in a whisker over four seconds.

    The main chassis differences between the SQ8 and the regular models are a 48-volt active anti-roll bar, coupled with a bespoke suspension tune and a sports differential that shifts torque between the rear wheels to aid cornering. And it’s actually quite impressive, managing to keep the car’s body tied down in faster curves while, curiously, also delivering greater compliance on scarred road surfaces than its more modest stablemates. 

    A Porsche Cayenne would still ultimately feel more agile, we suspect, and no less compliant – even on steel springs instead of the SQ8’s air set-up – but Audi’s engineers have done a decent job here of mixing poise and performance with cruising comfort.

    A proper prod of the right-hand pedal livens up the V8, of course, and it remains the car’s star turn. It delivers a well-judged NASCAR-esque thud that is politely characterful – enough to remind you that you’ve splashed out on two more cylinders than the rest of the range, without threatening to get in the way of conversation. 

    When you’re up and running, the V8 is barely any more noticeable at 70mph than the V6s in the Q8 TFSI and TDI – which is to say that it’s drowned out by a bit of wind noise from around the side mirrors (despite acoustic glass) and a fair bit of a tyre roar transmitted up from the monster 23-inch wheels. Fuel consumption remains pretty catastrophic, of course, with a claimed figure of 22.8mpg that’ll dip into the mid-teens if you really turn on the taps. But then, anyone who’s buying a 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged £97k SUV has to be at least slightly more motivated by celebrating what a V8 can do than regretting its side effects.

    Model:Audi SQ8 Black Edition
    Engine:4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol
    Transmission:Eight-speed auto, four-wheel drive
    0-62mph:4.1 seconds
    Top speed:155mph
    CO2 emissions:281g/km
    On sale:Now

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