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2024 Audi SQ8 Sportback E-Tron Initial Test Review

As I navigate the 2024 Audi SQ8 Sportback e-tron, it brings to mind a sequence from the animated film, “Fantasia,” where hippos elegantly perform to Ponchielli’s Dance of the Hours from La Gioconda. Who would have thought that hippos could execute elegant dance moves?

Okay, it’s a fantasy.

However, a similar suspension of disbelief is required when contemplating driving the 2024 Audi SQ8 Sportback e-tron. Once in the driver’s seat, you will believe that a hippo can dance – all 6,118 pounds of it. While Audi already produces a Q8 e-tron, as well as a Q8 e-tron S-Line, which emulates the appearance of a swifter stallion, but without the additional electrons to make it possible. This is where the 2024 Audi SQ8 Sportback e-tron distinguishes itself.

It is the most athletic interpretation of Audi’s largest battery-electric SUV, with one electric motor on the front axle and two on the rear, providing all-wheel drive. Combined, the three motors produce 496 horsepower and 718 pound-feet of torque from its 106-kWh battery. In comparison to the base Q8 e-tron and its 86.5-kWh battery, there is an extra 94 horses and 228 pound-feet of torque available. That’s enough power to accelerate to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds and achieve a top speed of 130 mph. Moreover, it can tow 4,000 pounds with up to a 400-pound tongue weight.

Sounds impressive; but how impressive? To find out, we embarked on the winding roads in the hills above Malibu, California to test this vehicle thoroughly.

Is it quick? Without a doubt; with great ease. However, generating speed in a straight line is not challenging. The real magic happens when it’s time to conquer the bends, and that’s when this machine truly excels.

This Audi’s rear-biased quattro all-wheel-drive system is notable. With no physical connection between the two rear wheels, the two electric motors can adjust the torque they deliver to either wheel. So, the outer rear motor supplies 162 lb-ft more torque than the inner one while cornering, providing torque vectoring. Push this car into a corner a bit too aggressively, and you’ll swing the rear end around, with tires screeching. It exhilarates and captivates, captivating the heart.

Nevertheless, it is all very manageable, thanks to the SQ8 Sportback e-tron’s firm suspension and precise, responsive steering. The SQ8 Sportback e-tron’s steering is never excessively weighty or artificially heavy. Instead, it proves to be just right, particularly when engaged in its Dynamic driving mode. Assisting all of this are the optional 22-inch wheels, replacing the standard 20s. Their handling capability comes at the expense of some ride comfort, but that’s to be expected. Additionally, there’s a trade-off in range. The 22-inch wheels reduce the range to 218 miles, down from the 20s’ 253 miles.

That being said, for those who appreciate one-pedal driving, you’ll find it surprisingly lacking.

These are part of the $3,500 Black Optic Package, which cloaks this vehicle’s exterior trim in black. Our vehicle also featured the $1,895 AC Charging Package, which adds a second charging port on the passenger’s side of the vehicle. Despite a base price of $98,600, Audi imposed an additional $595 for its metallic paint. Altogether, our enjoyable electric gem cost $105,740. But enjoyment comes at a cost.

Despite the high-speed agility, the cabin proves to be extremely quiet. Its atmosphere is characteristic of modern-day Audis, with a blend of leather, suede, and aluminum trim. As an S model, you’ll find the seating upholstered in quilted leather, with prominent S logos, in case you forget which trim level you chose.

Infotainment is provided by a 10.8-inch touchscreen positioned above an 8.6-inch screen that governs the climate and other comfort functions. It operates flawlessly, as you would expect.

However, you don’t require external entertainment when driving the 2024 Audi SQ8 Sportback e-tron. This vehicle is all the entertainment you’ll need.

Image Source: Traveller70 / Shutterstock

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