Audi has confirmed that its facelifted e-tron will carry the ‘Q8’ name from 2023 onwards and will boast an extended electric range.
Originally launched in 2018 (since which 150,000 examples have been sold), the newly renamed and facelifted Q8 e-tron now boasts up to 582 km of electric range in its SUV guise, and up to 600 km as a Sportback. This increase is primarily down “an adjustment to the battery management system” allowing usable battery density for both the 89 kWh and 106 kWh battery options to grow by up to 20 per cent.
Consequently, DC fast-charging times have similarly improved, with maximum charging performance now upped to between 150 and 170 kW, depending on the model. 80 per cent of the larger battery can now be topped up from 10 to 80 per cent – or around 420 km of range – in “roughly” 31 minutes.
The new nomenclature, meanwhile, borrowed from Audi’s largest ICE SUV, references the e-tron’s place as the German brand’s electric flagship.
Few changes have been made with regards to the e-tron’s drivetrain, of which three options are available. The entry level Q8 50 e-tron and Q8 Sportback 50 e-tron feature a dual e-motor setup, mated with the 89 kWh battery, that produces the same combined 335 hp (in Boost Mode) and 490 lb ft of torque as before, albeit with an estimated 491 km and 505 km of range respectively.
The mid-range Q8 55 e-tron and Q8 Sportback 55 e-tron use the same dual motor setup alongside the larger 106 kWh battery, meaning power has risen to 402 hp (torque remains unchanged at 490 lb ft). Estimated range is the highest of the e-tron line-up at up to 582 km and 600 km respectively.
The more potent ‘S’-tuned examples meanwhile are both powered by three motors – one 124 kW example at the front, two 98 kW motors at the rear – which produce 496 hp and 718 lb ft. Top speed is limited to 210 km/h, 10 km/h more than the ’55.’
Understandably, range does take a hit, with the SQ8 Sportback e-tron capable of up to 513 km, 19 km more than the SQ8 e-tron.
Subtle modifications have been made to the rear-axle motor on the entry-level Q8 50 e-tron, with 14 coils now generating the electromagnetic field as opposed to the previous 12, a change designed to reduce power consumption while the vehicle is at a constant cruise.
Among the biggest changes are the aesthetics at the front, with the facelifted e-tron now featuring a reprofiled, body-frame colour inverted front grille, new Matrix LED headlamps, and more electronically controlled cooling ducts. Alongside this, “wing spoilers” on the underbody, plus an elongated example at the front and two new spoilers by the rear wheels, help divert airflow more efficiently around the wheels.
More than simple cosmetic upgrades – bar the new model emblem on the B-pillar – the new front-end has helped Audi shave the drag co-efficient from 0.26 to 0.24 cd on the Sportback, and from 0.28 to 0.27 cd on the SUV.
Though the 2.928-metre wheelbase remains unchanged, both the SQ8 e-trons are now 2 mm lower and 39 mm wider than before as Audi looks to optimize cabin space (there’s also 569 litres of luggage space in the SUV and 528 litre in the Sportback). A two-part, glass panorama roof introduces more light to the cabin, while a four-zone climate control system can now be optioned.
Two-tier, diagonally-mounted MMI touchscreens – the top 10.1-inch, the bottom 8.6-inch – command the dashboard, and upholstery has been fashioned using recycled materials. Air suspension now comes as standard, with the ride height variable by as much as 76 mm to offer either a comfortable or a sporty drive.
Orders for the facelifted e-tron SUV and Sportback are set to open later this month, with the market launch in Europe scheduled for February 2023. North American sales are expected to begin in April, and while Audi has not yet confirmed US or Canadian pricing, the German MSRP starts from €74,400, around $100,600.