Audi is shaking up its high-performance electric SUV lineup. The German automaker has introduced the SQ8 e-tron, a renamed version of the outgoing e-tron S. The 2024 Audi SQ8 e-tron is available in a square back or Sportback (fastback) body style and has three electric motors to rival the Tesla Model X Plaid or BMW iX.
However, Audi has given the SQ8 e-tron a higher capacity battery pack to address its predecessor’s glaring Waterloo: the dismal range numbers. For context, the outgoing e-tron S has an 86.5 kWh battery that delivers an EPA-estimated 208 miles of range, not a good number for the vehicle’s sub-$90,000 base price.
2024 Audi SQ8 e-tron: What’s New?
Powering the Audi SQ8 e-tron is a 106 kWh high-voltage battery with 23 percent better energy capacity than before. The change is enough to improve the EPA-estimated driving range to 253 miles (with the standard 20-inch wheels) or 218 miles with the optional 22-inch rollers. Moreover, the electrical architecture accepts up to 170 kW of DC fast charging when the battery runs out of juice. Every Audi SQ8 e-tron comes with two years of complimentary DC fast charging from Electrify America.
In hindsight, the improved range numbers are still insufficient to keep up with rivals from Tesla and BMW. Still, the updated battery cell chemistry and packaging have yielded a near 50:50 weight distribution to optimize the handling and steering.
Helping the cause is a 45 percent stiffer mixed steel and aluminum architecture, a front and rear five-link independent suspension, and air springs with electronic damper control. The latter enables the driver to raise the ride height to three inches (76 mm) for mild off-road activities.
Tri-Motor Powertrain & Quattro AWD
The 2024 Audi SQ8 e-tron retains the tri-motor configuration of the e-tron S. The front has a single 210-horsepower asynchronous electric motor. At the same time, two electric motors in the rear produce up to 185 horsepower. The total system output is 496 horsepower in boost mode. The dual rear motors provide independent torque vectoring in under five milliseconds, eliminating the need to engage braking to distribute torque between each rear wheel.
Audi claims the outside rear wheel could receive up to 162 lb-ft. more torque than the inside wheel when the vehicle attacks a corner, helping improve handling and cornering at speed. Furthermore, the electronic Quattro all-wheel drivetrain improves traction by distributing the torque to the wheels with better grip when the system detects slippage.
Premium Styling & Equipment
The 2024 Audi SQ8 e-tron and its curved-roof SQ8 e-tron Sportback derivative share distinctive styling treatments like aluminum wing mirrors, silver rocker panel accents, and aluminum trim on the front and rear fascias. Moreover, the SQ8 e-tron is 1.5 inches wider than a regular Q8 e-tron, thanks to more bulbous fender flares. Behind those gorgeous 20-inch to 22-inch alloys are six-piston front brakes with red calipers and two-piece 15.7-inch brake rotors, while the rear has 13.8-inch rotors with a single-piston red caliper.
Meanwhile, the SQ8 e-tron’s cabin features 12-way power front seats, premium Valcona cowhide upholstery with diamond stitching, carbon fiber trim, four-zone automatic climate control, and a heat pump to improve efficiency in cold weather. As expected from a modern EV, it has a typical array of screens like a digital instrument cluster (Audi virtual cockpit), a Bang & Olufsen audio system with 3D sound, a 10.1-inch infotainment touchscreen, smartphone connectivity, navigation, and ambient lighting.
Advanced Driving Aids
The 2024 Audi SQ8 e-tron has blind-spot warnings, lane departure warnings, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, forward collision mitigation, automatic high beams, a surround-view camera, and rear automatic braking, to name a few.
2024 Audi SQ8 e-tron MSRP
The 2024 Audi SQ8 e-tron and SQ8 e-tron Sportback start at $89,800 and $92,600, respectively. Options are available to extend the warranty on any Audi vehicle, including the SQ8 e-tron. Likewise, if you have questions about new vehicle financing and how auto loans work, this short but helpful video will point you in the right direction.
Alvin Reyes is an Automoblog feature columnist and an expert in sports and performance cars. He studied civil aviation, aeronautics, and accountancy in his younger years and is still very much smitten to his former Lancer GSR and Galant SS. He also likes fried chicken, music, and herbal medicine.