Weekend Wheels: Audi's flagship Q8 is one classy crossover coupe
I can’t say I’m a fan of white cars. And I really don’t like white SUVs. White paint transforms them into rolling fridge-freezers — Whirlpools on wheels — blanking out any subtlety of design.
Any sexy curves they might have disappear in a sea of bleached blah. Well, that’s my opinion.
When I first laid eyes on Audi’s stunning new Q8 quattro flagship at an auto show reveal back in 2018, one of the multitude of reasons I loved it was for its paint; a retina-searing shade of molten orange that Audi calls Dragon Orange Metallic.
Rolling on gorgeous 22-inch alloys, the Q8 looked more like a concept car. It was all sharp edges, bulging fenders, and that mile-wide black front grille.
Then last week, our Q8 test car showed up. Whiter than a box of Chiclets. Whiter than Simon Cowell’s teeth after his new set of veneers. Whiter than Tom Cruise’s tighty-whities in Risky Business.
It looked like some huge chest freezer.
I know, I know. There’s a simple solution to this dilemma: Don’t buy a white car. But that said, according to a recent survey by the folks at leading paint supplier DuPont Automotive, the most popular color for SUVs in the U.S. right now is, you guessed it, white.
But enough about paint color. What we have here with Audi’s new flagship SUV is what’s called a “four-door crossover coupe.” The coupe part comes from that bold, swoopy roofline that tells onlookers, “Hey, I don’t need an SUV for practicality, I want it to look zippy.”
If anyone questions your logic by suggesting a big SUV like this could never be sporty, just mention that the Q8 shares its chassis with Lamborghini’s new Urus sport-ute.
Of course the Q8 isn’t the first crossover coupe. BMW can claim that accolade with its X6. Mercedes-Benz is also in the fray with its lovely GLE Coupe, with Porsche about to join in with its Cayenne Coupe.
Pricewise, the Audi with its $68,396 starting sticker sits between the X6 and GLE, with the Porsche, naturally, higher at $75,300.
What the Audi offers, more so than its rivals, is practicality. Its roofline isn’t quite as steeply angled as the others, so there’s less compromise for rear-seat headroom and luggage hauling.
And being just a few inches shorter than Audi’s three-row Q7 — the Q8 doesn’t offer a third-row — rear-seat legroom is positively limo-like.
[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”69″ display=”basic_thumbnail” thumbnail_crop=”0″]Unlike its rivals, however, the Q8 has to make do with just one engine choice. But it’s one of my favorite motors out there, Audi’s Teflon-smooth 3.0-liter turbocharged V6. It makes 335 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, with power going to all four wheels via an 8-speed automatic.
While 335 ponies might sound plentiful, the Q8 is weighed down, literally, by its 5,000-plus weight. Standstill to 60mph sprinting takes 5.8 seconds, which is fun, but not exactly frisky.
Need more oomph? Next year Audi is planning to introduce an SQ8 performance version with an expected 450hp. We can’t wait.
On the road, our Q8 is all about smoothness and refinement; it’s just a lovely crossover to drive. It steps off the line quickly and has strong mid-range thrust for safe, speedy passing. And lovely precise, well-weighted steering, too.
Tech lovers will go gaga over the Q8’s “glass” dashboard, with its two huge screens in the center stack, and Audi’s acclaimed “Virtual Cockpit” 12.3-inch screen behind the steering wheel. The graphics are some of the crispest in the business.
Coupe-bodied crossovers won’t be for everyone. And if you need three rows of seats, go check out the Q7. But as a stylish, head-turning, fun-driving sport-ute, the Q8 makes a great choice. Just don’t get it in white.
Test drive the 2019 Audi Q8 at these Tampa Bay Audi retailers: Reeves Import Motorcars of Tampa, Crown Audi Clearwater, and Audi Wesley Chapel.