Audi's E-Tron SUV is reborn with more range as the 2023 Q8 E-Tron

Audi’s E-Tron SUV is reborn with more range as the 2023 Q8 E-Tron

It’s been about three years since Audi’s first dedicated electric vehicle, the E-Tron SUV, take the road first. It’s almost an eternity in automotive tech time, which means it’s time for an update. The refreshed version debuts with an updated look, a bit more range and a less confusing new name: meet the 2023 Audi Q8 E-Tron and the SQ8 E-Tron SUV and Sportback.

Audi’s electric vehicle lineup has expanded to include the Q4 E-Tron small crossover, electric Sportback models, E-Tron GT and RS E-Tron GT sports sedans, along with the A6 and Q6 E-Tron models. just around the corner. And that’s right here in the United States; globally, the mix also includes China market Q2L and Q5 E-Trons.

Simply calling its first electric SUV the “E-Tron” has become less and less adequate as its family grows, so for its mid-cycle refresh Audi has rebranded its original dedicated EV the Audi Q8 E-Tron 2023. In the transition, the sporty E-Tron S becomes the SQ8 E-Tron, followed by the Sportback models. The change aligns the SUV’s moniker with both the naming structure of its current both-electric and combustion models.

The new nomenclature can be found laser-engraved on the black B-pillars of the Q8 E-Tron, a new branding element for Audi, as well as in black lettering on the rear hatch. Up front, the automaker’s single-frame grille features a new honeycomb design and a contrasting black or aluminum surround that incorporates the SUV’s headlights. Atop the unique frame, a new LED spotlight bar illuminates the grille and highlights the four-ring badge. The SUV’s front and rear bumpers have also been reshaped, but overall the mid-cycle design changes are minimal.

Range increase

Beneath the updated design are improved aerodynamic elements – new turbulence-reducing wheel spoilers and aero-designed wheels are hidden, literally, under the Q8 E-Tron’s body – giving the E-SUV a higher drag coefficient. more slippery.

Power from the twin-motor Q8 E-Tron 55, the base spec here in the US, is unchanged at a combined 402 horsepower (300 kW) in Boost mode and 490 lb-ft of torque. The 0-100 km/h time of 5.6 seconds and the electronically limited top speed of 200 km/h are also unchanged. However, tighter winding on the rear motor stator allowed Audi engineers to insert two additional coils, improving efficiency and allowing greater torque generation from a less common application.

The biggest change comes in the form of a larger battery, or rather a more energy-dense 114 kilowatt-hour battery that fits in the same space as the old 95 kWh unit. That’s thanks to a new stacked prismatic design and new cell chemistry. Between the larger battery, more efficient motor and improved aerodynamics, Audi expects a 30% increase in range, estimating 361 miles for the SUV and 372 miles for the Q8 E-Tron Sportback, both compliant with the European WLTP standard. (Interestingly, the Sportback is now the more efficient of the two body styles, a reversal from previous model years.)

Like most electric vehicles, the Q8 E-Tron reserves some capacity to increase longevity, so only 106kWh is usable by the owner.

Audi

We expect the numbers estimated by the EPA to be lower, but US range estimates have yet to be announced. Still, we can expect an improvement over the current model’s 222 and 218 mile estimates for SUV and Sportback configurations.

“We know how important it is to have a range number that starts with a ‘3’,” Audi Product Marketing’s Carter Balkcom said during a briefing, “so I can tell you that approximately 300 miles is what we’ve set as our goal and we’re working to get there.”

SQ8 E-Tron Models

The three-motor E-Tron S models also return as the dynamic SQ8 E-Tron and SQ8 E-Tron Sportback duo. Peak power for these models is, once again, unchanged from last year, at 495 hp and 718 lb-ft of torque. Sprints from zero to 60 mph in Boost mode still take just 4.5 seconds.

SQ8 models lack the new front wheel spoilers – Audi reckons that with their wider wheels and more aggressive front aerodynamics the air flaps wouldn’t make much of a difference – but are powered by the new battery from greater capacity. The WLTP range for the SUV and Sportback is estimated at 306 miles and 318 miles, respectively, so I guess the SQ8 models will likely be below an EPA estimate of 300 miles.

The peak DC fast charge rate increases to 170kW, but with the larger battery the fast charge time hasn’t changed much.

Audi

Faster DC Quick Charge

Pit stops on the road will also be a bit shorter in the Q8 E-Tron thanks to improved DC fast charging speeds. Peak rate jumps from 150 to 170kW for all models – a small but welcome bump. The SUV can now go from a state of charge of 10% to 80% in approximately 31 minutes. That’s around the same time as last year’s 20-80% charge, but with a bigger battery to fill. Plug & Charge capability is still standard, enabling automatic authentication and charging at compatible charging stations via charging cable communication.

Home and public AC charging is unchanged, with the included 11kW adapter taking around 11.5 hours to fully charge. An optional 22kW AC charger, or a public Level 2 AC charger of similar power, cuts that time to around six hours flat.

Other improvements

Inside, the Q8 E-Tron’s cabin sees new colors and available trim materials join the options list. The SUV will also use even more post-consumer materials, such as a new charcoal-colored “Tech Layer” upholstery material made from recycled plastic bottles and sports seats covered in synthetic leather and a new microfiber material called Dinamica. , made from recycled plastic bottles. , used textiles and “fiber scraps”, whatever. Dinamica is also produced without the use of solvents, further reducing its environmental impact.

The E-Tron’s MMI technology is unchanged and should still be quite good. The dual-display center console features a 10.1-inch main touchscreen up top and an 8.6-inch screen down below, in addition to the standard all-digital Virtual Cockpit instrument panel.

A new LED projection bar illuminates the grille and four-ring badge from above.

Audi

The forbidden fruit

Outside the US, Audi will continue to sell a single-motor Q8 E-Tron 50 model, ditching the 70kWh battery in favor of the 55’s older 95kWh pack. The 50 gets a small power boost at 335 hp and a 40% increase in range to 305 miles estimated by WLTP.

On US roads, the Q8 E-Tron still does not take full advantage of Audi’s digital matrix LED projector headlamps due to our current legal restrictions. So we don’t get beamforming light around oncoming traffic to increase visibility without dazzling other drivers or the “light carpet” with direction indicator arrows. In Europe, the 2023 Q8 E-Tron can now indicate the intention to change lanes by expanding the light carpet laterally and can even project traffic and warning indicators on the road surface based on connected data.

We still don’t have the camera-based virtual side mirrors either, but I’m a little less salty about that.

Read more: Smart headlights are right around the corner, to the relief of that driver you’re blinding

Coming next spring

Orders for the 2023 Audi Q8 E-Tron and SQ8 E-Tron SUV and Sportback models are expected to open in the coming weeks, with first European deliveries beginning in February. In the United States, the first copies should start arriving at the end of April. Local pricing hasn’t been announced, but we’re expecting slightly higher pricing than the 2022 model year E-Tron due to changes in standard equipment, packaging, and more. More details will no doubt be revealed closer to the on-sale date.

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