I drove the brand new model Audi Q8 for a weekend and got to check out its fancy new technology. The Q8 is regarded as a luxury crossover SUV coupé but with four doors, and the convenience of being a large SUV, if that makes sense. While the Q7 is a seven-seater, the Q8 is actually a five-seater. A few elements that stood out for me was its striking design, the technology inside, and how comfortable it is to drive.

Audi Q8 Mall of Africa

When I first took it out on the roads, I felt like how a tall person in a room because you’re elevated and it feels like you’re looking down at everyone in traffic. It certainly gives you an extra level of confidence that includes driving like you own the road (lol).

It also gets a lot of attention, from JMPD to adults and kids alike; everyone was turning around to stare, point and comment. That tells you all you need to know about the looks and design I guess. It’s a vehicle that gets you noticed, for sure.

But the ride quality was something else. It was just so comfortable and smooth; you don’t feel how crappy the roads are. I could totally have kept it and drove every day with it. I went over speed bumps in my boomed off area comfortably at 60km/h and basically if the car had eyes, it wouldn’t have blinked. I drove to Hartbeespoort and didn’t notice how bad the roads were at certain points.

HERE ARE MY TECH HIGHLIGHTS

Audi Infotainment System: Audi’s Multi Media Interface (MMI) is a 10.1-inch screen that is simple to understand and has icons large enough so you know where to find everything, easily. As someone who has played with many infotainment systems, and most of them are not great, MMI is one of the better ones I’ve used. It does not feel like basic settings are deeply nested inside others, and you certainly don’t need a manual to figure out stuff. The system makes use of haptic feedback, so you have to press everything with effort until you feel a vibration, and not touch it like you would a smartphone. There are no knobs or dials to access it, everything is a touch and press input. 

Audi Q8 touchscreen

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto: in all honesty, these should be standard features on all cars now because it should be of utmost importance to manufacturers that we use our phones safely while driving. All I had to do was plug my phone via the USB slot and it activated CarPlay. It fed off my Google Maps that I used for directions, played my tunes from Spotify and let me make phones calls safely. When I say make phone calls, it’s usually test calls because I rarely use my phone as a phone – ha. (Feature: standard).

Digital Controls: Beneath the 10.1-inch MMI interface is another 8.6-inch display, which reminds me of the only other vehicle I drove with this set-up (the Range Rover Velar). I’m a big fan. I don’t like fidgeting with knobs, buttons and dials because usually there is no uniform to where they appear (understandably). With a complete touch interface, you know where to find the heat or cooling settings, fan speed, and other comfort settings. It’s not complicated, and I’m all for simplicity. The downside? ALL. THE. FINGERPRINTS.

Q8 touch panel

Voice Commands: This one is always hit and miss on vehicles because you may not be aware how it has been designed, either to understand natural speech or you have to say a sentence with specific syntax (worst). I found that when I sat on the passenger side, it didn’t respond as well to me, but when I was in the driver’s seat, it understood what I was asking it. Without pairing to my phone, the vehicle was independently capable of finding me restaurants nearby based on cuisine, and then offering me directions; i.e. using its built-in system and not my Google Maps.

Adaptive Cruise Assist: This feature offers driver support like cruise control; keeping a following distance; detecting lane markings, structures or other vehicles and normally this isn’t anything to get excited about because it’s fairly common now on a lot of cars. What caught my attention was the assistance for accelerating or braking, in the form of an icon with a shoe at a 45-degree angle and with an arrow beneath it. I mean, I knew it wasn’t complimenting me on my boots, so we did a quick google search and realised it anticipated I needed to start braking, because it detected the cars slightly ahead doing the same. It was still at some distance, which was why I wasn’t sure what it meant. I know I tend to brake a bit late – all the time – so now the car knows what I do.

The above mentioned features are my tech highlights as I’ve noticed them and used it over the weekend. Others worth mentioning but not as detailed was the head-up display; virtual cockpit; Bang & Olufsen 3D sound through 23 speakers (!); a night vision infra-red camera; and wireless charging for your smartphone – I prefer my phone charging through a USB cable anyway cos it’s quicker.

It’s fairly obvious I loved driving the Q8, it was very luxurious. The cup holders were deep enough to hold my coffee without spilling – this may seem minor but it’s a big deal to me, though not sure why the flap opens towards the driver’s side; it felt like it was getting in the way.

Q8 side inside

On our trip to Hartbeespoort, four of my friends who sat at the back said it was comfortable (they placed a jersey over the seat belt clips so it wouldn’t dig into them), and loved that they had individual climate control. There were also two additional USB ports at the back (two were in front).

The new Audi Q8 I had on test, kitted with extras comes to R1 522 284. The vehicle as standard costs R1 388 000. It’s a 240kW vehicle (500Nm of torque) and with an 8-speed Tiptronic transmission. It is capable of doing 0-100km/h in 5.9 seconds and its top speed is 250km/h. The boot is massive at 605L. Don’t ask me about -cough- fuel consumption though, cos we all know I don’t know how to drive efficiently and I ain’t giving up aircon to bring the numbers down.

Audi Q8Image credit: Shutterstock

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