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2020 Audi SQ8 First Drive | What’s new, photos, specs

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Audi launched the SQ8 as a efficiency crossover to fit between the Q8 and the top-performing RS Q8. Extra energy in a automobile is nice, however generally it could really feel wasted in a less-agile crossover.

On the opposite hand, the E-Tron crossover affords area and luxurious that do nothing to sluggish its pulse-quickening efficiency. Just possibly the SQ8 might impress, too. After all, it runs a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 rated at 500 hp and 568 lb-ft of torque. Compared to the Q8, the SQ8 provides two cylinders, an additional liter of displacement, plus a further 165 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque. It additionally will get a sport-tuned suspension and a superb quantity of normal gear that makes it really feel luxurious and sporty on the identical time, as Audi does when at its greatest.

The SQ8 seems the a part of the efficiency crossover, driving on 21-inch wheels (or non-compulsory 22-inchers). There are refined exterior touches that set it aside from the Q8, just like the “Aluminum-optic” grey grille encompass and mirror covers, a singular entrance bumper with splitter, a rear diffuser, quad exhaust suggestions and SQ8 badging. We instantly preferred the look of ours in Daytona Gray pearl paint, a $595 choice. Inside, it’s slightly on the flashy aspect of Audi. We’re not all the time a fan of carbon fiber, however within the SQ8, this non-compulsory trim end simply works. The weave itself is gorgeous, and it served as a pleasant, edgy distinction to the full of life purple leather-based upholstery and grey microfiber trim in our tester.

The heart stack is residence to 2 digital touchscreens with useful haptic suggestions. The higher one is your infotainment unit, with the same old radio and media interfaces, navigation and quite a lot of automobile features. The decrease display screen has local weather controls and seat features. The decision is crisp, the controls responsive and the app tiles configurable. There’s wi-fi Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto, however Audi’s MMI is nice sufficient that we most popular simply to make use of that — plus it doesn’t mess up the complete inside aesthetic with a third-party interface, if we’re being choosy. Tucked away beneath the central console armrest is a wi-fi telephone charger, which retains it protected from distracted fingers and safe throughout these pedal-to-the-floor moments on freeway entrance ramps and wide-open rural roads. The better part is, while you get out of the automobile later and inevitably neglect your telephone, a barely robotic human voice reminds you that it’s nonetheless within the automobile earlier than you possibly can shut your door.

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The entrance seats are aggressively bolstered, which bothered us for half a minute. Push your self in slightly deeper with a pair sprints towards 60, and you discover that the seat molds round you in a comforting embrace, snuggling you tight behind the leather-based steering wheel. Over the course of the drive, we got here to understand the best way the SQ8 does all the things it could to attenuate the driving force’s physique and head movement. It’s roomy inside, and a 6-foot-tall passenger has a superb quantity of legroom behind a same-sized driver. The rear controls for HVAC give a way of care to the rear occupants. A shock was the inclusion of ashtrays within the rear armrests, reminding us of the vehicles we rode in as youngsters.

Visibility felt barely compromised, with a excessive beltline, tall hood and aggressively raked A-pillars. Just a little tweak to the seating place and some miles of gathering familiarity made a world of distinction. We nonetheless couldn’t get the very best learn on our automobile’s corners, however they don’t stick out too far whether or not or not you possibly can see them. For parking, the a number of digicam views, together with top-down, make {that a} moot level.

The SQ8’s specs are spectacular, and the twin-turbo V8 is nice for a 0-60 hustle in a quick 4.three seconds. If you’ll find a monitor to stretch its legs, a 155-mile-per-hour high pace is at your disposal. In this case, the numbers translate to actuality. The feeling you get driving this Audi matches the expectation these efficiency figures conjure, and acceleration runs ship fast jolts of adrenaline with a beefy soundtrack to again it up.

To really have some enjoyable with the SQ8, although, discover some good corners. Equipped with the Sport package deal, the SQ8 is surprisingly adept at tracing its means by means of them with plenty of pace and grip. For $5,900, the package deal provides a sport differential, lively roll stabilization and purple brake calipers. The sport differential is managed by what Audi Chassis Engineer Christian Schimmel refers to as a “central chassis brain,” which helps numerous features work collectively in fractions of a second to regulate issues like torque vectoring and lively damping. While brake torque vectoring helps the SQ8 rotate by means of a nook, the game diff can provide an additional 10% extra torque to the surface wheels. The lively roll stabilization, in the meantime, helps to maintain the automobile flat. The result’s an exceptionally impartial corner-carving crossover that’s happier than one would count on to bop from one curve to the subsequent.

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Adding to the general betterment of the SQ8’s dealing with is normal all-wheel steering. The rear wheels can dial in as much as 5 levels of steering to assist tighten the turning radius at decrease speeds, or make for smoother lane modifications at increased velocities with two levels of steering angle. Combined with a really feel by means of the wheel that’s each weighty (and you may modify that heft within the menus) and communicative, the SQ8 is a cooperative companion when pushed onerous.

Like any good efficiency Audi, the SQ8 rewards you for taking issues into your personal fingers. The eight-speed computerized transmission types issues out easily by itself, however begin twiddling with the paddles, and it involves life, popping off crisp shifts. We solely want that we had greater paddles to work with. A guide mode this good deserves one thing that’s extra distinguished and graspable, ideally in a metallic end.

The SQ8’s normal adaptive suspension makes for a clean journey in Comfort mode over cratered pavement, regardless of driving on such huge wheels. Sport provides you a superb really feel of the floor by means of the seat of your pants with out an excessive amount of else to noise up the expertise or trigger discomfort. We switched between Sport and Comfort probably the most, which supply definitive experiences, fairly than hedging with an computerized setting or the Individual mode. Allroad mode raises the journey top a bit and made for forgiving and quick runs down some stunning nation lanes. As a lot as a freeway on-ramp or signal for an upcoming curve on a paved street made us actually grin to ourselves, we saved in search of out aspect roads, main us farther into the rurality that bustles inexperienced between cities like Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Plymouth and Northville on the outskirts of metro Detroit.

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On the township roads that cross the 6, 7 and eight Miles that make up the aged grid west of town, the SQ8 is surprisingly entertaining and surefooted. Stability management is dialed in completely, due to that wonderful torque vectoring. You can hear slightly little bit of digital fidgeting occurring within the mechanicals round you, however nothing so intrusive as to trigger alarm. We have been ultimately assured sufficient to flat-foot by means of gravel curves with out the automobile giving up even a tidbit of lateral traction. If the neutrality on pavement was spectacular, the dearth of understeer on delicate roads was a testomony to nice engineering. This Audi was a pure genius at taking a fluid, and even deliberately sloppy, cornering scenario and baking it right into a stable, unerring vector. With unfastened roads giving means beneath the tires, the SQ8 was just a bit slower than regular — however simply as regular — on its rip up the speedometer.

There’s additionally an Offroad (all one phrase in Audi parlance) mode that we didn’t have the chance to place to the check, however that additional will increase the journey top for optimum angles of method and departure.

Our day with the SQ8 felt too transient, largely for egocentric causes after having come to actually respect this impressively versatile automobile. We didn’t fairly count on to find it irresistible, or to have the ability to have as a lot enjoyable as we did driving it onerous. But the SQ8 begins rewarding you straight away, from first sight of its muscular proportions to that first grasp of the steering wheel by means of keen acceleration runs. The actual deal with is the sudden — just like the crossover’s cornering prowess and its utter composure when the roads get squishy. We’ll positively be asking for an SQ8 once more as soon as the leaves have fallen and the snow begins to fly.

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