In ‘S’ form, the Audi Q8 just got brawnier

June 27,2019

NEARLY 430hp. A staggering 900Nm of torque. These are what the Audi Q8 now puts out if the model comes in SQ8 TDI form.

The new top-tier Audi SUV just received a brawny V8 TDI and will soon be released in “standard” or Vorsprung forms. In Vorsprung, the vehicle gets to marshal the copious engine power via all-wheel steering, Quattro sport rear axle differential and active roll stabilization. These are all operated by an advanced 48-volt circuitry.

The 4.0-liter biturbo V8 in the SQ8 TDI is the most powerful diesel engine available in the Europe, allowing the SUV sports car acceleration credentials of zero to 100km/h in 4.8 seconds. Even the engine looks like that of a sports car’s; its cover is in red. Yup, testa rossa and all that.

The turbochargers are sequential. One is active at low engine speeds, the second turbo kicks in from around 2,200rpm. A sound actuator in the exhaust system makes the V8 more melodious — Audi drive select even varies the notes.

An electrically powered compressor (EPC) assists the turbochargers when starting off and when accelerating at low engine speeds. EPC is located in a bypass behind the intercooler and is activated when the flap is closed. If the load requirement is high while the amount of energy available in the exhaust gas is low, the intake air flows into the EPC, where it is compressed a second time. Driving the EPC is a 48-volt onboard electrical system, which is also the backbone of the mild hybrid system (MHEV).

The system can recuperate, travel with the engine at idle, or coast with the engine completely deactivated for up to 40 seconds. The energy harnessed is stored in a lithium-ion battery.

An eight-speed tiptronic transmission, which works together with the MHEV system, pairs with engine. It sends power to the Quattro permanent all-wheel drive system that distributes 40% of the output to the front axle, the rest to the rear. The sport differential fitted to the Vorsprung variant further splits power between the rear wheels, with the amount depending on available grip. Standard to the SQ8 TDI is the Audi drive select dynamic handling system with seven modes and the adaptive air suspension with regulated damping. The air suspension changes the ride height by as much as 90 millimeters. The Vorsprung supplements this with all-wheel steering and active roll stabilization.

The SQ8 TDI’s cabin is fitted with sport seats with integrated head restraints and large side bolsters. The rear seat can be moved to increase luggage space.

Typical for Audi S models, the cabin furniture are mostly black, with diamond stitched black Valcona leather upholstery (which can come in other colors). Aluminum inlays can be replaced with carbon or oak gray. Illuminated door sill trims with aluminum inlays and the S logo at the front are standard, as are the stainless steel pedals and footrest.

Also found in the cabin are two large touchscreens that uses haptic and acoustic feedback as the main operating elements. The upper display controls the infotainment and navigation systems. The lower display is for the climate controls, convenience functions and text input.

Controlling the SQ8 TDI’s driver-assist functions is Audi’s zFAS. The tablet-size computer, which is on board the SQ8 TDI as standard, constantly calculates a differentiated image of the environment. This central environmental model enables the assist systems to react precisely and quickly to objects, such as by initiating braking. Navigation is also precise because the sensor data fusion locates the driver’s car down to the exact lane. Depending on the selected options, the zFAS receives the data to do this from up to five radar sensors, five cameras and 12 ultrasound sensors.

The SQ8 TDI is brawny and brainy.

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