We like the Audi Q8 more than other so-called SUV coupes, but we never felt its performance matched its good looks. The 2020 Audi SQ8 was seemingly created to silence our griping. The Q8's supercharged V6 goes out the window to be replaced with a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8. Essentially a detuned version of the engine found in the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, this throaty beast produces 500 horsepower and 568 lb-ft of torque. On paper, the SQ8 looks to be a seductive middle ground between the pedestrian Q8 and the tire-melting RS Q8.
2020 Audi SQ8
2020 Audi SQ8 Review
- Turbocharged 500-hp V8 moves the SQ8 with authority
- Four-wheel steering keeps the big SUV feeling nimble
- Surprisingly comfortable given its performance attributes
- Stylish, distinctive exterior
- Infotainment system can be distracting to use
- Driver's seat has few adjustments
- Limited interior storage
- The SQ8 is new for 2020
- Kicks off the first SQ8 generation
We never felt the regular Audi Q8 had performance to match its good looks. The 2020 Audi SQ8 was seemingly created to silence our griping, taking the Q8's package and cranking things up a bit. The supercharged V6 from the Q8 goes out the window, replaced with a turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 good for 500 horsepower. It's essentially a detuned version of the engine found in the Porsche Cayenne Turbo. As we hoped, the SQ8 strikes an expert balance between the comparatively pedestrian Audi Q8 and the bonkers RS Q8.
Standard all-wheel steering and all-wheel drive help keep the SQ8 pointed ahead at higher speeds and reduce the turning radius in the parking lot. Inside, passengers are treated to front sport seats to keep them in place when exploring the SQ8's dynamic possibilities. The SQ8 gives you the ability to actually have some fun in your luxury family hauler. There are some minor faults, which you can read about in our Expert Rating. But overall this is an impressive all-in-one luxury SUV.
The SQ8 is a sporty spin on Audi's Q8 midsize SUV. Audi has anointed it with a 500-horsepower V8 and too many performance upgrades to count. It's considerably more dynamic than the standard Q8 and nearly as comfortable. Well-executed tech offerings and a top-notch cabin design round out this pricey SUV's long list of strengths.
How does the SQ8 drive?
Perhaps you want the roar of a V8, or just a sportier driving experience. Either way, the SQ8's superior performance is likely the reason you're upgrading from the regular Q8. This performance-minded model does not disappoint, with an engine capable of rocketing this SUV from 0 to 60 mph in an impressively quick 4.0 seconds.
Slowing the SQ8 is effortless in day-to-day driving thanks to well-calibrated brakes. Well-controlled body roll gives the driver considerable confidence to explore the SQ8's dynamic prowess.
The SQ8 isn't perfect, however. Our test model's all-season tires didn't deliver the grip we were expecting to match this model's power — the no-cost summer tires would have been a better match. The SQ8 isn't super smooth when driving normally around town either. There's some lag between pressing the accelerator and the transmission downshifting, and the auto stop-start system turns off the engine too early, resulting in lurchy stops.
How comfortable is the SQ8?
The SQ8 is surprisingly comfortable given its sporting pretensions. In the Comfort drive mode, the standard adaptive suspension dampers and air suspension provide the pillow-like ride you'd expect of a luxury SUV. It doesn't feel floaty either. You can also dial up the Dynamic mode for a firmer feel.
The leather upholstery is soft, and the padding is compliant but supportive. But we'd prefer that the SQ8's sport front seats offered more adjustments. Also, their fixed front headrests may not fit all body types. Fixed headrests aren't unusual on sports cars, but they are overkill on a family-friendly SUV.
Four-zone climate control comes standard, as do heated and ventilated front seats. The SQ8, just like the regular Q8, has a two-tier touchscreen setup, with the lower touchscreen used to control climate functions. Our team was split on its effectiveness, with some saying it's distracting to use. But you can always use voice controls so you don't take your eyes off the road. Outside noise is adequately quelled, and you'll only hear the throaty exhaust of the V8 under hard acceleration.
How’s the interior?
Audi's bold decision to go full touchscreen on its latest infotainment interface is controversial. Some of our experts found it distracting and easy to smudge, while others liked the clean look and operation. We were more united in our dislike of the Q8's limited visibility, caused by the steep rake of the front windshield and the thick front and rear roof pillars.
The Q8 offers plenty of room. The space up front is generous, even if the lower roofline gives the impression of less headroom than there is. Unfortunately, the lack of seat adjustments and aforementioned fixed headrest might cause discomfort for some drivers. The rear seating is roomier than what you'll find in other coupe-like SUVs. There's excellent legroom, lots of toe clearance and ample headroom. The wide rear bench can hold three adults in agreeable comfort.
How’s the tech?
Operating the SQ8's infotainment interface is controversial, but you can't deny that the SQ8's cabin tech looks fully modern and comes with plenty of features. We like that it supports wireless Apple CarPlay too. The standard Bang & Olufsen audio system is quite powerful but requires fine-tuning to alleviate some muddiness on tracks with a lot of instruments.
Audi's voice control system isn't as comprehensive as Mercedes' MBUX, but it's still very good compared to the majority of systems on the market. It will pull up an address or point of interest quickly, activate the driver's seat heater, or switch to a satellite radio station with ease.
Most driver aids are standard and work well. The only issue we found was with the adaptive cruise control system, which overestimated the amount of braking needed when traveling downhill.
How’s the storage?
The SQ8's design preserves most of the cargo space that you'd normally get from the three-row SQ7. The air suspension allows you to lower the rear for easier access to a wide cargo area, too. The split seats fold flat and provide a decent 30.5 cubic feet of cargo space. Storage is scarce for small items aside from the sizable door pockets.
Planning to use your 500-hp super SUV as a family taxi? Car seat anchors hide behind removable covers, and the generous legroom ensures car seats of any size will fit.
The optional towing package gives the SQ8 a towing capacity of 7,700 pounds, which is generous for the class. The SQ8's trailer maneuver assist feature is also neat. You can use it to easily guide your trailer while reversing by swiping left or right on the lower infotainment display.
How economical is the SQ8?
EPA-estimated fuel economy for the SQ8 stands at 17 mpg combined (15 city/21 highway). The SQ8 is slightly thirstier than other performance-oriented midsize SUVs, but not so much so that it makes much of a difference. Buyers looking for a fast, roomy SUV likely won't care anyway. Our test vehicle managed 19.8 mpg on our 115-mile test route, proving these estimates are achievable in the real world.
Is the SQ8 a good value?
There's no question the SQ8's interior is worth the price. Except for the upper door trim section, all surfaces are trimmed in luxury materials. Build quality is up to Audi's typically high standards, and the high-tech design makes an impression on first-time passengers.
Including destination and handling, the SQ8 starts a hair under $90,000, and our tester with the Driver Assistance package and visual upgrades rings in just under $95,000. It's a bargain compared to a similarly configured Porsche Cayenne GTS (which features the same engine), though it costs a bit more than the more powerful BMW X5 M50i.
Basic and powertrain coverage lasts for four years/50,000 miles, while roadside assistance is offered for four years/unlimited miles. All are average for the class.
There's a lot to love about the SQ8 from behind the wheel. It's tremendously quick, turning responses are sharp, and the engine is boisterous. The SQ8's composed handling is a testament to Audi's engineering. there's no way a big, heavy SUV should be this enjoyable on a tight, twisty road. Our tester's all-season tires were the only sore spot; throw a set of summers on this beast and go have fun.
The SQ8 is one of the only SUVs to offer style and practicality in equal measure. The base Q8 was already a showstopper, and the SQ8's more aggressive aero kit only adds to the visual appeal. And unlike with the current crop of coupe-like SUVs, the sporty roofline doesn't come at the expense of rear headroom or cargo space. Go ahead: Have your cake and eat it too.
Which SQ8 does Edmunds recommend?
Audi SQ8 models
The 2020 Audi SQ8 comes in two trim levels. The Premium Plus includes a number of sumptuous features that cement its luxury SUV status. The Prestige trim takes things even further with advanced creature comforts. Both trims use the same turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine (500 horsepower, 568 lb-ft of torque) with an eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. Highlight features include:
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Our experts’ favorite SQ8 safety features:
- Audi Pre Sense City
- Uses sensors at the front of the car to warn you about an imminent front collision and can automatically apply the brakes.
- Audi Pre Sense Rear
- Reacts to an imminent rear-end collision by tensioning seat belts, closing windows and adjusting the seats for optimal protection.
- Audi Side Assist with Rear Cross-Traffic Assist and Vehicle Exit Warning
- Warns you if a vehicle is lurking in your blind spot and alerts passengers about to exit the car to approaching vehicles.
Audi SQ8 vs. the competition
2020 Audi SQ8
2020 BMW X6
Audi SQ8 vs. BMW X6
The X6 M50i is the closest direct competitor to the SQ8. The two share fastback "coupe" styling, turbo V8s and beefed-up performance bits. The X6 eats up back roads thanks to inspired handling, and its engine matches evenly with the SQ8's. It's perfectly reasonable if your decision comes down to which design language you prefer.
Audi SQ8 vs. Porsche Cayenne
For a twist on the SQ8 formula, look within its family tree. The Cayenne Coupe offers similar styling and strong performance with Porsche pedigree attached. To make pricing line up, consider the S model. Its turbocharged V6 doesn't pack as much horsepower as the SQ8's V8 and it's way down on torque. But Porsche handling and a lower curb weight are enticing.
Audi SQ8 vs. Jaguar F-Pace
Jaguar threw the book at its ultra SUV. The F-Pace SVR earns some customers based on looks alone, plus its 5.0-liter V8 engine making 550 horsepower is a triumph. Thrilling speed is supported by dynamic handling and confident braking ability. The Jag's ride is firm and its technology is behind the curve, but for the right shopper it won't matter.
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Is the Audi SQ8 a good car?
What's new in the 2020 Audi SQ8?
According to Edmunds’ car experts, here’s what’s new for the 2020 Audi SQ8:
- The SQ8 is new for 2020
- Kicks off the first SQ8 generation
Is the Audi SQ8 reliable?
Is the 2020 Audi SQ8 a good car?
How much should I pay for a 2020 Audi SQ8?
The least-expensive 2020 Audi SQ8 is the 2020 Audi SQ8 Premium Plus 4dr SUV AWD w/TFSI (4.0L 8cyl Turbo gas/electric hybrid 8A). Including destination charge, it arrives with a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of about $89,000.
Other versions include:
- Premium Plus 4dr SUV AWD w/TFSI (4.0L 8cyl Turbo gas/electric hybrid 8A) which starts at $89,000
- Prestige 4dr SUV AWD w/TFSI (4.0L 8cyl Turbo gas/electric hybrid 8A) which starts at $94,500