The new 2024 Audi SQ8 Sportback e-tron SUV under review here will be coming out in the USA later this year as the sleek coupe-style sibling of the SQ8 e-tron mid-size electric SUV. Since we already know quite a lot about what to expect from the SQ8 e-tron SUV, it's easier to piece together the Sportback derivative's details, as these two models won't differ much except for the body style draped over shared electric underpinnings. Besides, the Sportback version has already been unveiled in Europe, and won't differ too much from the local car. It's not a new car - the 2024 SQ8 Sportback e-tron is simply a facelifted and upgraded e-tron Sportback S. The e-tron was Audi's first electric SUV, but the name is now used for Audi's global EV brand, so the original e-tron was renamed the Q8 e-tron at its mid-cycle upgrade to give it its proper place in Audi's model hierarchy. Like the old e-tron Sportback S, the new 2024 SQ8 Sportback still comes with a tri-motor setup, now delivering a total of 496 horsepower. It comes with a fixed-ratio transmission and quattro AWD, but it fixes one major flaw of the old car - a limited range on a full charge. This metric is now a lot closer to that of rivals such as the Cadillac Lyriq and BMW iX.
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|SQ8 Sportback e-tron||
We don't have a release date for the Audi SQ8 Sportback e-tron yet. We know that the SQ8 e-tron SUV is due in the US at the end of April 2023, around two months after its European launch, but Audi has not said whether the Sportback arrives at the same time. We're guessing it won't be beyond mid-year.
We can only make a few educated guesses on the price of the 2024 Audi SQ8 Sportback e-tron, since Audi has not provided pricing yet. The SQ8 e-tron SUV is expected to launch at an MSRP of around $92,000, and although some estimates exceed this number, that sounds unlikely. The Sportback is expected to exact a premium of at least $3,000-$3,500, so it might cost around $95,000-$96,000 for the base Premium Plus trim when it eventually lands here. This makes it around $10k more expensive than the 516-hp BMW iX xDrive50. It's likely to be more than the latest 500-hp twin-motor Cadillac Lyriq as well, and that starts at a much more affordable $60,695 for the base trim. The Tesla Model X is in another price and performance class and starts at nearly $110,000.
With its new SQ8 name comes a refreshed exterior appearance and the SQ8 Sportback e-tron closely follows the changes made to the normal SQ8 e-tron, with Digital Matrix LED headlights fitted and Audi's two-dimensional new logo sitting atop a restyled inverted three-dimensional Audi Singleframe grille rendered in an aluminum look on the Sportback, with the new lightbar running across it, illuminating the logo from above. In common with other new Audis, the brand and model lettering is now applied to the B-pillar. The refinements will extend to the rear, which doesn't change too much, but sees revisions to the rear diffuser, while a standard panoramic sunroof is present as well to lend an airy feel to the interior. Lots of work went into aerodynamic refinement, improving the drag coefficient of the Sportback body from 0.26 to 0.24. This is helped by new grille shutters and larger spoilers ahead of the wheels, which measure 20 inches in size. However, larger wheels could potentially be optional when the car arrives in the USA.
We don't know much about the colors of the Audi SQ8 Sportback e-tron either, so our guesses in this regard have to consider what colors are currently offered on the e-tron S and what colors we've seen on Audi's official photos of the SQ8 e-tron models. The SQ8 e-tron has so far included Chronos Gray Metallic, Madeira Brown Metallic, Mythos Black Metallic, and the vivid Ultra Blue Metallic. The SQ8 Sportback e-tron's official photos were all in Ultra Blue Metallic and you can see the European model in this color in the photos we provide here. All these colors will more than likely be seen on the Sportback, but how much of the palette of the 2023 e-tron S Sportback will survive to grace the new car remains to be seen.
The exterior dimensions of the Audi SQ8 Sportback e-tron include a length of 193.5 inches, a width of 77.8 inches excluding the mirrors, a height of 63.7 inches, and a 115.3-inch wheelbase. Unsurprisingly, these numbers are very similar to those of the current e-tron S, but US specifications may see some minor variances. Overall, the SQ8 Sportback e-tron is quite similar in size to the BMW iX xDrive50, although the Bimmer's body is slightly longer and taller.
In Europe, Audi has quoted a weight with the driver of 6,007 pounds. That's less than the 6,085-lb curb weight of the current e-tron S Sportback, but since curb weight includes a tank of gas, the two vehicles are unlikely to differ much in this aspect despite the fitment of a larger battery in the SQ8 Sportback e-tron.
Just like in its SQ8 e-tron SUV sibling, there is a trio of electric motors in the Audi SQ8 Sportback e-tron and they produce 496 hp and 718 lb-ft of torque combined. The motors' separate outputs (166 hp for the single motor driving the front wheels and 131 hp each for the two driving the rear wheels) add up to 428 hp, but the total is upped to 496 hp in Boost mode. With only a tiny weight penalty, performance specs are the same as before, with the 0-62-mph sprint for the European model staying unchanged at 4.5 seconds. It's safe to assume the 0-60-mph time of 4.3 seconds will, therefore, remain unchanged as well. The acceleration figure is comparable to the base BMW iX's 4.4 seconds and only half a second adrift of the Tesla Model X's 3.8 seconds. Top speed is limited to 130 mph. The motors enable torque vectoring that is adjusted instantly on the fly.
Air suspension is fitted as standard to all SQ8 e-trons and it's been tuned to provide the type of handling dynamics and cornering stability expected of an S-badged Audi. The S is sharpened up all around to provide sportier handling than the normal Q8 e-tron and the sports tuning extends to the steering, which has a quicker ratio, and other chassis-control systems.
The SQ8 Sportback has a brand-new battery with an enlarged 106-kWh capacity (114 kWh gross). Different chemistry ensures a higher energy density, allowing Audi to fit a battery with an enlarged capacity in the same space taken up by the previous battery, which was 86.5 kWh (95 kWh gross). It can be charged at a rate of up to 170 kW (up from a previous maximum of 150 kW), which means it takes only 31 minutes to get it from 10% to 80%. The onboard 11-kW AC charger or optional 22-kW charger will require overnight charging to top up the battery, with the 11-kW option taking more than ten hours to recharge the battery from totally empty to 100%.
The new battery addresses the rather poor range of 212 miles that the previous e-tron S could manage. No EPA-rated figures are available yet, but the SQ8 Sportback e-tron is claimed to be good for 318 miles on the European WLTP test cycle. Translating this to EPA figures isn't always straightforward, but an EPA range of around 275-280 miles is possible. This is a very healthy 30% boost - exactly what Audi claims. Achieving a 30% range improvement from a 23% increase in battery capacity is also down to other refinements such as the body's lower drag and a more efficient rear electric motor that now has more windings, so it requires less current to produce the same output, saving precious electrons. Range is now almost within shouting distance of the iX's 324 miles and while it's by no means class-leading, it's a huge improvement.
When EPA ratings are published, Audi will also be hoping for an improvement in efficiency. The e-tron S Sportback returned 73/78/75 MPGe city/highway/combined, whereas the BMW iX xDrive50 manages 86/87/86 MPGe.
The interior and seat comfort of the Audi SQ8 Sportback e-tron have been improved even further - and there was precious little wrong inside the old e-tron S Sportback. Three-stage ventilated seats with high-detail perforated leather will be available, although you can opt for leatherette instead. Sustainability is high on Audi's agenda and to this end, many recycled materials are used in the SQ8's interior. These include a synthetic fabric upholstery made from recycled PET bottles and Dinamica imitation suede made from 45% polyester fibers. Carbon fiber, porous wood veneers, and aluminum trim are all likely to be offered in US-bound cars and there are squishy soft-touch surfaces aplenty in the high-grade interior. It all looks very futuristic too, with a bevy of screens facing the driver; there is a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, a 10.1-inch infotainment touchscreen atop the center stack, and an 8.6-inch screen lower down.
The Audi SQ8 Sportback e-tron's trunk space is good but not class-leading, with 27.2 cubic feet of cargo space available behind the second row. This can be increased to 54.5 cubes by folding down the rear seats. There is additional storage in the frunk under the hood, but it's only 2.2 cubes.
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