Where did you drive it?

The Press - - Drive - Body style: On sale:

From the Auck­land deal­er­ship to and from Bracu Es­tate, in the Bom­bay Hills, where some mod­est off-road­ing ex­er­cises were con­ducted. A quick-fire taster, then, side-step­ping real op­por­tu­nity to test the model’s pri­mary mis­sion of de­liv­er­ing more han­dling poise and driver in­volve­ment than the more fam­ily-tai­lored Q7 is ex­pected to im­part.

First im­pres­sion is that, when tak­ing it easy, it’s as smooth, com­fort­able and easy-go­ing as its sib­ling. The sense of it be­ing a high-qual­ity ex­pe­ri­ence is en­hanced by the ef­fort that has gone into en­sur­ing me­chan­i­cal, road and wind noise is very well sup­pressed. The frame­less doors – an­other Audi SUV first – do not de­grade at all, as they pull them­selves elec­tri­cally shut to ba­si­cally achieve a her­metic seal.

A height-ad­justable, sport­stuned adap­tive air sus­pen­sion is stan­dard and the var­i­ous on-seal modes are tan­gi­bly dif­fer­ent. Com­fort makes for cush­ioned ride iso­la­tion and low-ef­fort in­puts; in this set­ting, too, you meet the Q8 at its most re­fined. It is very de­mure on the mo­tor­way.

The al­ter-ego Dy­namic in­creases steer­ing weight and brings much more taut­ness to the sus­pen­sion, enough to trans­mit coarse chip tex­tures, so be­ware the po­ten­tial dis­com­fort on more im­pure sur­faces. Even so, this set­ting will doubt­less be­come a de­fault for keen driv­ers.

In ad­di­tion to proper cen­tre diff-based, torque-vec­tor­ing quat­tro four-wheel drive, there’s four-wheel steer­ing, which in ad­di­tion to lift­ing the on-road deft­ness also en­hances the car’s sure-foot­ed­ness off-road and lends an A3-equalling turn­ing cir­cle.

The ac­tive anti-roll bars that go to the SQ7 are omit­ted, brand ar­gu­ment be­ing that th­ese are ren­dered un­nec­es­sary by Q8’s lower cen­tre of mass and wider tracks. Fair enough, it does have abun­dant lat­eral grip and de­cent mid-cor­ner sta­bil­ity. Yet it would sur­prise if other edi­tions don’t pick up this fea­ture.

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