Audi’s quest for advancement leads it to rejuvenate the SQ8, propelling the formidable SUV into 2023 with a style-centric upgrade. As the industry marches towards electrification, these traditional, swift SUVs are dwindling in number. Yet, Audi’s SQ8 emerges refashioned, aiming to sustain its desirability in showrooms with aesthetic enhancements.
The exterior revisions of the SQ8 lean heavily on visual enhancement. A sharper set of headlamps now frames a more refined grille configuration, while a revised front bumper adds to the aggression. The back boasts a commanding diffuser with genuine quad exhausts, eschewing the trend of decorative fakes. New wheel choices and colour options alongside updated dashboard inlays also grace this year’s model.
Inside, the SQ8’s cabin retains its familiar high-end environment, with minimal changes. Yet, it does falter in places, with the touchscreen system’s haptic feedback still lacking intuitiveness, and the steering wheel’s gearshift paddles falling short of the luxury benchmark expected at this level.
In terms of choice, the SQ8 moves away from the regular model’s S line trim, presenting only two versions: the stark SQ8 Black Edition and the lavish SQ8 Vorsprung. Regardless of selection, features like 23-inch alloys, Bang & Olufsen sound, quadruple climate control, and rear-wheel steering come standard.
On the mechanical front, the SQ8 maintains the performance pedigree of the standard Q8. It boasts the same muscular 4.0-litre V8, now calibrated for an output of 500hp and 770Nm of torque, paired with an eight-speed automatic and quattro all-wheel drive. This powerhouse propels the substantial SQ8 to 100 km/h in just over four seconds, according to Audi’s claims.
The SQ8 sets itself apart with a 48-volt active anti-roll bar system, a unique suspension calibration, and a sport differential that optimises torque across the rear wheels for better cornering. The results are commendably athletic, offering a remarkable balance of agility and ride quality, rivalling that of more pedestrian models.
The dynamic prowess may come close to, but not surpass, that of a Porsche Cayenne’s agility and comfort. However, the Audi’s engineers have adeptly married agility with comfort, a testament to their tuning expertise.
The V8 engine’s exhilarating response remains the highlight, emitting a refined rumble when pushed hard, its distant, but you know it’s there.
At cruising speed, the V8 hums with subdued finesse, overshadowed by the ambient noise of the wind and the tyres’ rumble against the pavement. And while fuel economy is as expected for a vehicle of this calibre — a mere 22.8mpg on the books — it appeals to those who favour the celebration of V8 performance over economic usage.