Sporty Audi Q8 e-tron 2023 arrives with a whisper in the UAE

The German brand's new electric offering has plenty of poke, but it remains a refined affair

The Sportback and standard Q8 sit side by side. All photos: Audi
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The 2023 Audi Q8 e-tron has just arrived in the UAE in a blaze of … well, quietness.

As the less-loud sibling of the brand’s fossil-fuel-powered SUVs, the new arrival showed just how subtle a car with power going to four wheels could be.

Anyone who has driven through Dubai knows that the city provides plenty of drama on the tarmac whatever time of day you’re out, but the Q8 e-tron makes rush hour seem almost hassle-free (almost, admittedly, being the operative word here — we don’t want to exaggerate).

When I took a spin in it, I found that the quiet, well-appointed cabin is a pleasant and serene place to be, with a feeling of protection definitely in evidence.

That sense of seclusion seems as if it would be a given in any sizeable electric SUV, but you’d be surprised how often this isn’t in the case.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that is an indicator that the Q8 e-tron is slow, though. While the standard car isn’t as zippy as some of its electric SUV rivals, a 0-100kph time of 5.6 seconds will certainly get you where you’re going speedily enough, and its instant surge of power makes you realise why headrests are a good thing.

An olive green SQ8. Photo: Audi

However, it’s worth noting that the time to reach 100kph drops down to 4.5 seconds if you’re behind the wheel of the line-up’s top dog, the SQ8.

All very good so far, but many would consider one of the headlines about the Q8 e-tron to be its range.

Audi is touting a possible figure of nearly 600km in the high-spec version, which is on the extensive side for any electric vehicle, light, heavy or otherwise.

The manufacturer's tech team tell us they achieved this by making the car lighter, more aerodynamic and upping the efficiency of the battery.

The Q8 pack assembles in Dubai. Photo: Audi

If you had access to one of these during the Fifa World Cup, that could easily be enough range to get you from Abu Dhabi in the UAE to Doha in Qatar on a single charge.

It’s an Audi so, as you’d expect, the Q8 e-tron looks and feels very tidy inside and out.

There are three distinct versions available — the standard, classic SUV model; the Sportback, which, as the name suggests, has a sleeker appearance; and the SQ8 at the top of the pile.

All Q8 e-trons offer four-zone climate control and various optional extras that include an air quality package, massaging seats and ambient lighting. A panoramic sunroof is also available.

The seats are perforated to allow for further ventilation, and interiors can be decked out with wood veneers or aluminium, both equally shiny.

You can also opt for a sustainable technical material made partially from recycled plastic bottles, if you really want to up your green credentials.

The Q8 e-tron is clearly a vehicle that shows the strides manufacturers are taking to improve their electric offerings, and hats off, or bonnets up, to them for that.

As an SUV with quattro drive, it feels like a car you could successfully take off-road, though that might not be its forte.

Urban tarmac is likely to be where the Q8 e-tron reigns supreme, albeit in a quieter and more restrained fashion than some of its rivals.

Updated: March 10, 2023, 4:07 PM