There really is a lot of talent in the overflowing premium four-door coupé SUV segment with the likes of old favourites the X6 and GLE inducing large grins on drivers’ faces. More recent additions including the Velar and Cayenne Coupé are doing likewise, therefore, it comes with little surprise to find another entrant into this blossoming class and this time from Audi in the shape of its Q-brand range-topper, the handsome Q8. Ingolstadt’s luxury offering is dripping with technology and kit and it packs a healthy turbocharged V6. It is based on the same platform which underpins the Cayenne, Urus and Bentayga — this one promises to be quite good...

And it delivers on that promise. First of all, what we have here is a proper head-turner and easily the brand’s most striking looker since the stunning R8 supercar — just look at that aggressive front end to dispel any doubt. Rubberneckers had been craning all week to see our test car — finished in a new Galaxy Blue paint — drive past and most of the time their gaze was on the giant grille flanked by the HD Matrix LED headlights. That’s understandable but the focus really ought to have been on its defining element — its coupé profile. The roofline slopes more than the Q7’s, bringing with it a heavy dose of style (the frameless doors are a neat touch) but doesn’t trade much in terms of utility as there is still ample rear headroom (more than the X6 by an inch in fact) and a very cleverly packaged boot with 605-litres of room allowing for a more useable area. With a broad-shouldered stance backed by a chiselled body, taillights with a full-width LED strip and riding on 22in wheels, the Q8 cuts an imposing figure. In comparison, the others in this large-size coupé SUV mashup segment come off as bulbous and a little bloated. It’s just as fancy on the inside too with the the two large screens in the centre stack stealing the show; at the top is a 10.1in infotainment screen with haptic feedback (it’s good but you sometimes need to press extra hard to get it to recognize your inputs) and a 8.6in screen below for the climate control and both display extremely crisp graphics. Also, you get Audi’s Virtual Cockpit system with a massive 12.3in screen sitting behind the steering wheel and naturally with this being a luxury SUV — and an elegant evolution of Audi’s upscale cabin treatment at that — it’s been swathed in Valcona leather, Alcantara and fine grain ash trim making you feel like royalty every time you get in. The array of tech impresses just as much; from the surround-view camera system and the virtual 360-degree view it provides to the wireless charging for your smartphone, Audi hasn’t skimped on a thing here. In terms of advanced driver-assist systems, it includes front and rear parking sensors and automatic emergency braking as standard equipment, a blind-spot-monitor system with rear cross-traffic alert and a rear collision warning system.

 

Photos: Stefan Lindeque

It’s a big and heavy car but it disguises its heft really well with the 55 TFSI 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 producing 340 horses and 540Nm of torque. The motor features a 48v mild hybrid system that contributes to a 0.7 litre per 100km fuel consumption reduction and is mated to a slick eight-speed auto that sends the power to all four wheels. It propels you from 0-100kph in 5.9-seconds and on to a top speed of 250kph. The Q8 is calm when you want it to be but jumps to life at your command with the suspension primed to absorb bumpy surfaces ensuring the serenity of the cabin is never compromised. There are several Drive modes with ‘Dynamic’ dropping the height by 40mm and providing a noticeably firmer and more responsive ride while the Off-Road mode raises the air suspension by 50mm from the standard position to give you enough ground clearance (254mm) to tackle the beaten path if you so wish, in confidence.

This is a welcome addition to the segment with more than enough about it to seriously ruffle the feathers of its established rivals.