New Audi Q8 e-tron Dakar Version 2024 assessment: EV SUV with off-road improve

New Audi Q8 e-tron Dakar Edition 2024 review: EV SUV with off-road upgrade

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Verdict

If we’re being cynical, we’d lament the truth that Audi’s Q8 e-tron Dakar Version solely affords a obscure reference to the maker’s successes on the iconic rally with which it shares a reputation. However the Q8’s now real off-road means makes it an intriguing addition to the vary. Drawback is, Audi nonetheless wants convincing to construct it in right-hand drive.

The Audi Q8 e-tron has been a staple mannequin within the vary since 2019, however till now its off-roading means has been thought of theoretical, at greatest. 

Nonetheless, eager to attract some connection to the model’s exploits within the famed Dakar Rally, it has created the rugged wanting Q8 e-tron Dakar Version for a small manufacturing run that throws various off-road toys on the lately up to date electrical SUV

From a technical perspective, the Dakar Version is predicated on the Q8 e-tron 55 quattro, with the identical dual-motor setup producing 394bhp and a chunky 664Nm of torque. That is fed by the identical uprated 106kWh (usable) battery pack as the usual automotive. Whereas vary has but to be examined, the upper drag ranges – because of a lot of its new off-road components – will virtually actually imply a discount in contrast with the usual mannequin’s 330-mile most. 

Extra critiques

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Regardless of its low-volume standing, there was a stunning variety of technical adjustments that facilitate some severe off-road functionality. This begins with a recalibrated air-suspension system that in its default Allroad setting sits 65mm increased than a regular Q8 e-tron. In its most succesful Offroad mode, the experience peak extends an extra 30mm, which is noticeable each when it comes to design and the driving place.

The Dakar Version additionally encompasses a 57mm-wider observe and bespoke 18-inch wheels wrapped in rugged all-terrain tyres. A set of 20-inch wheels with standard rubber can also be accessible, however both manner sit within the barely wider SQ8 e-tron’s arches, completed in a contrasting Mythos black paint. The automobiles we drove have been fitted with the optionally available Dakar wrap, which can be restricted to 99 models for manufacturing. All automobiles are fitted with a rugged roof-carrier system, with a spare tyre mounted on prime.

Modifications inside are extra refined, with black leather-based and contrasting crimson stitching fitted as commonplace. The red-striped seatbelts borrowed from Audi’s RS fashions are a pleasant contact, however all the pieces continues to be beautifully constructed with prime quality supplies as earlier than. Audi has additionally fitted bespoke graphics to the touchscreen, and the automotive’s flooring mats are actually created from a hardy black rubber – which was particularly helpful at our take a look at location inside a dry river canyon on Oman’s south coast. 

Our restricted period of time on tarmac confirmed the one main distinction to the usual automotive is a rise in street noise from the all-terrain tyres. That is in any other case a managed and properly sorted driving expertise with correct steering, wonderful calibration for the throttle and brake pedal, and good experience high quality. Nonetheless it was our stern take a look at off-road that pushed the automotive to its limits.

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Whereas the notion of an all-electric journey automobile may appear just a little counterintuitive on account of its restricted vary, an electrical motor is definitely very properly suited to off-road driving. The instantaneous torque supply mixed with a protracted throttle pedal within the Offroad drive mode makes mild work of the automotive’s bulk whereas traversing difficult terrain. The twin-motor setup wasn’t fazed throughout our expertise, with subsequent to no wheelspin, even on slick rock faces. 

In deep gravel and sand, the automotive’s evenly balanced torque cut up doesn’t permit for lurid oversteer moments, however as a substitute feels tuned to use energy as cleanly as attainable. The brake pedal, with a mix of regenerative and friction braking, wasn’t fairly so reliable although. Occasional exploratory prods of the pedal have been required to determine precisely how a lot stopping energy was on provide, as we raised our pace inside the sandy canyons.

All automobiles are fitted with a really efficient hill descent management system that may mechanically activate on steep declines. However the automotive’s limitations have been met when extra gruelling situations arose – particularly when severe off-road qualities like axle articulation have been required. Regardless of the added floor clearance, it wasn’t fairly sufficient to cease a very unfriendly rock from assembly the underside of the bodywork down a steep and slender canyon. This, nevertheless, was virtually actually as a result of lack of spatial consciousness, than a basic reflection of the automotive’s functionality. 

Total, we have been very impressed by how succesful and versatile the Q8’s underlying chassis was in difficult terrain. This was made much more spectacular once you keep in mind that is neither a devoted EV or 4×4 platform, however an adaption of Audi’s MLB structure extra generally discovered on saloons and city-dwelling SUVs. 

What number of prospects will truly use the Dakar Version off-road is one thing of a moot level, nevertheless, as Audi is anticipating this automotive to be bought by prospects which can be extra drawn to its design and cool-factor. This doesn’t low cost the work Audi’s performed to create the Dakar, however it does put some context again into the laudable job it’s performed to make sure its stage of functionality. 

The difficulty for the UK is that the Dakar has not but been signed off for right-hand drive, which implies that for the meantime the Dakar shouldn’t be on the menu for us Brits. Nonetheless, one look across the streets of the UK may lead you to consider that that is greater than just a little short-sighted. The Mercedes G-Class, Jeep Wrangler and Land Rover Defender haven’t any downside becoming in with the fashionable British cityscape.

Mannequin: Audi Q8 e-tron Dakar Version
Value: £103,000(c)
Engine: 114kWh battery, 2x e-motor
Energy/Torque: 394bhp/664Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automated, all-wheel drive
0-62mph: N/A
Prime pace: N/A
Vary: N/A
Charging: 170kW (10-80% 30 minutes)
On sale: Not confirmed for the UK

Senior workers author at Auto Specific, Jordan joined the group after six years at evo journal the place he specialised in information and critiques of automobiles on the excessive efficiency finish of the automotive market. 

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