First Drive: 2024 Audi SQ8 and Q8

The opportunity for travel is something we here at Vicarious can take for granted. But much of that travel is within a four to eight hour flight window. Unless, of course, the request comes to drive the 2024 Audi SQ8. No ordinary location would do.

2024 Audi Q8 and SQ8
2024 Audi Q8 and SQ8

To get behind the wheel of Ingolstadt’s newest SUV would mean taking a few flights to Cape Town, South Africa. Hmmm. A total of twenty-five hours there and twenty-seven back with layovers included. Sounds like the perfect trip. So, it was off to Africa and some quality time driving the new Audi SQ8 and Q8.

The 2024 Audi SQ8 shares DNA and more with the current Lamborghini Urus. It’s a family connection that Audi takes full advantage of, even though it detunes the 4.0L twin-turbocharged V8 engine to deliver 500 horsepower and 568 pound-feet of torque. Fuel economy is improved compared to the Urus with a combined average of 13.8 L/100 km.

2024 Audi SQ8

Matched to an 8-speed Tiptronic transmission, it accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 4.1 seconds and reaches a limited top speed of 250 km/h. And, unlike its Urus sibling, it can do all of this without making the neighbours stand up and take notice. Sometimes, incognito is the only way to go.

Design changes are subtle, but apparent if you know what to look for. An updated front grille features new LED headlights with Audi laser light. Front and rear lights now feature user-selectable digital animation and signature options that really standout. Headlight washers are standard along with a host of exterior design elements and practical features like aluminum side mirrors and roof rails, panoramic sunroof and 22-23” aluminum design wheels to name a few.

2024 Audi SQ8

Inside, the new SQ8 is what we have come to expect from Audi; a masterful execution of style, driver and passenger useability and sensibility. It may seem obvious, but there isn’t a bad seat in the house. Front and rear seats are heated, while the front offers additional ventilation and 4-way power lumbar adjustment. Need a little more room for rear passengers, simply slide the seat to adjust. Valcona leather covers the perforated sport seats and the mix of fabric, leather, satin metal and piano black is as good as it gets.

Driving the new SQ8 is an experience befitting a five passenger SUV with Lamborghini-inspired underpinnings. The multi-spoke steering wheel feels perfectly weighted for the size of the vehicle. There is no pretending this is a sports car, but it also feels smaller and more agile on the road than you might first expect when taking a seat behind the wheel.

2024 Audi Q8

Not to be outdone, and should you not require the added performance of a V8 turbocharged engine, the new Audi Q8 is equally up to the task of driving excitement and practicality. Under the hood resides a 3.0L V6 turbocharged engine connected to a 48V mild-hybrid electric system (MHEV) that delivers 335 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. Matched to an 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, it arrives at 100 km/h in 5.6 seconds and reaches a limited top speed of 210 km/h.

2024 Audi Q8

Electromechanical steering with speed-sensitive power assist makes maneuvering in tight spaces, or attacking twists and turns in South Africa, a breeze. The adaptive front and rear steel suspension and 6-piston rear brakes deliver an inspiring and comfortable ride with excellent stopping power. On more than one occasion, we had to brake suddenly for a troop of baboons as they took no interest in our passing while sauntering down the road for all to see. Braking also delivers energy recuperation, as does coasting on one of the many downhill descents I encounter throughout the area.

2024 Audi Q8

Inside, the new Q8 is also a study in German ingenuity and attention to detail. Seats are fully adjustable, a 12.3” gauge panel can be modified in three unique modes; Classic, Sport and Dynamic, while rear seat passengers are equally taken care of with leather and fabric seating, center ventilation and useful storage. Rear storage is impressive and the rear seats fold down in a 40/20/40 split for added space.

The roads outside of Cape Town and down to the Cape of Good Hope are well-manicured and inspire spirited driving as I hug the coast. The views are breathtaking and the SQ8 responds with the ease of a sports car. While it may have required a good deal of airtime to get here and back again, Audi’s newest SUV made it a worthy Vicarious adventure!

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