As wildfires rage, hurricanes brew, and a virus continues to wreak calamity on the world, a acting escape can appear address of a big, gas-powered V-8. The 2021 Audi SQ8 (starting at $89,200) fits that bill in a adequate amalgamation with abundant appetite to accomplish self-quarantine annihilation but boring.
In Santa Monica, Calif., the adapted SQ8 is at home canoeing wheel-to-wheel with Mercedes-Benz G-Wagens and GLS 580s, Range Rovers and Bentley Bentaygas, cartoon contemplative looks from adolescent Audi drivers in their abate Q5s and Q3s. The giveaways of the SQ8’s added able and able underpinnings—aside from its glottal bankrupt note—include aflame aluminum trim about the advanced grille, ancillary rocker panels and ancillary mirror housings. Advanced and rear bumpers are different to this model, with an chip advanced splitter and a rear diffuser applique that’s belted by cloister bankrupt pipes. Auto are 21-inch alloys advised accurately for the S model, equipped, in this case, with summer tires and the action package’s red-painted anchor calipers.
The 2021 Audi SQ8. Photo by Jim Fets, address of Audi AG.
The SQ8 is the Goldilocks of the Q8 lineup, with a 500 hp, 4.0-liter turbocharged V-8 that sits amid the accepted V-6-powered archetypal and the 600 hp, Nürburgring-record-setting RS Q8. “It’s two worlds you accept to accompany into one car—luxury and the sportiness of an S model,” says Christian Schimmel, Audi’s arch of anatomy performance. Dialed into Dynamic mode, we absorb assimilate Pacific Coast Artery (PCH) against Malibu with a near-instantaneous ability bang and abundant of that 568 ft lbs of torque advancing in adequately early. In the best advancing drive setting, accouterment appear at college revs from the eight-speed Tiptronic manual as we buzz by Priuses and accumulate clip with the McLarens and Lamborghinis ahead. Forth the way, alley signs administering the accessible to abrasion face masks and once-vibrant businesses now shuttered are abrupt reminders that we’re still actual abundant in the bosom of a pandemic.
Weighing added than 5,300 pounds, the SQ8 mates a 4.0-liter turbocharged V-8 with an eight-speed Tiptronic transmission. Photo: Address of Audi AG.
A appropriate about-face assimilate Latigo Coulee Alley and we elbow-bump the artery goodbye and arch against the switchbacks of the Santa Monica Mountains. These anchorage could choke the best out of an R8 V10 Spyder, let abandoned a 5,300-plus-pound SUV. We’re about abandoned as we accomplish the climb, save for a few bicyclists and a account van activity the added way. The SQ8’s brakes—15.8 inches in the advanced and 13.8 inches in the rear—get formed afresh activity into hairpins, and the abeyance is put to the analysis on off-camber turns and asperous patches blowzy with gravel. A cardinal of systems advice to accumulate the big SUV in its place: In accession to Quattro all-wheel drive, the SQ8 gets accepted adaptive air abeyance adapted with stiffened dampers and springs, as able-bodied as rear-wheel council that helps the car about-face in bigger on bound and decreasing-radius corners.
The SQ8 appearance Quattro all-wheel drive, rear-wheel council and adaptive air abeyance adapted with stiffened dampers and springs. Photo: Address of Audi AG.
With the action package, a action rear cogwheel actively distributes torque amid the rear auto and sends ability breadth it’s needed, accouterment alike crisper turn-in, while alive cycle stabilization flattens out the car in the corners. The aftereffect is a tighter and added adequate ride compared with best SUVs, although we wouldn’t affirmation the SQ8 could carve a coulee like a sports car. Alike Schimmel knows a agent this admeasurement can’t baffle science: “At the end of the day, alike that car has limitations due to physics,” he says.
Seats are acrimonious and ventilated, but the alternative beating action is an added $4,000. Photo: Address of Audi AG.
The SQ8 is not a ancestors hauler, but a affluence action cruiser for those who appetite affluence of allowance for baggage and golf clubs, with a aback bench big abundant that adults won’t feel like they’re relegated to the automotive agnate of the kids’ table. Cargo amplitude is beneath compared with a added cocked SUV, barometer a still-respectable 60 cubic feet. The berth of our analysis car is dressed in Arras red covering with blah bond and adumbration Carbon Vector inlays, which accord the autogenous a textural abyss aloft copse or metal. Seats are acrimonious and ventilated, but we absence the beating action begin alone with the affluence package, which would add $4,000 to our SQ8’s $107,490 sticker price. At that point, you’re about into RS Q8 territory.
The rear basement breadth won’t accomplish adults feel like their sitting at the kids’ table. Photo: Address of Audi AG.
Audi’s “virtual cockpit” includes a head-up display, bifold axial screens, navigation, and smartphone affiliation with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. New to Audi’s MMI interface is an chip assessment module, which allows owners to articulation their FastTrak or added assessment accounts anon with the vehicle’s onboard system, eliminating the charge for a abstracted transponder.
Audi’s “virtual cockpit” includes a head-up display, bifold axial screens, navigation, and smartphone affiliation with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Photo: Address of Audi AG.
The adventure aback is via Decker Coulee Road, which, coincidentally, is the aforementioned avenue traversed by Schimmel and his adolescent engineers while testing the SQ8 in its development appearance (along with the accepted stints on the Nürburgring and elsewhere). Soon, our exercise in affairs crabbed gs apprehension bottomward as we accomplish our way aback to PCH, the browns and golds of barren hillsides giving way to dejected vistas of the Pacific. Looking south against Santa Monica Bay, jets arise out of LAX aloft the pier’s iconic Ferris wheel, and for a few moments, as the afternoon sun glistens on the baptize and the ocean breeze flows in through the accessible roof, activity feels about accustomed again.