Audi unveils facelifted versions of the e-tron quattro and e-tron quattro Sportback, confirming they will be renamed Q8 e-tron and Q8 Sportback e-tron for the ʼ23 model year.
Arriving in key markets early next year, the two battery-electric SUVs receive subtle exterior and interior styling changes, as well as drivetrain upgrades claimed to increase both efficiency and range for each of the six individual models in the lineup. The most powerful models, the SQ8 e-tron and SQ8 Sportback e-tron, continue to develop 496 hp and up to 717 lb.-ft. (972 Nm) of torque and, with a more energy-dense battery, provide up to 311 miles (501 km)of range on the WLTP test cycle.
“We were able to significantly increase both battery capacity and charging performance,” says Oliver Hoffmann, head of Audi’s R&D activities. “On top of this, we improved the motors and chassis control systems.”
Among the styling changes made to the 3-year-old SUV pairing is the adoption of a new-look grille featuring Audi’s new two-dimensional ring emblem. It is set within a re-profiled bumper and is bookmarked by headlamps with revised graphics and new functions, including a new orientation light for country roads and a lane light with a direction indicator.
The German automaker has added new spoilers within the underbody of the BEVs to smooth airflow around the wheels. They are integrated into the front of the e-tron quattro and both the front and rear of the e-tron quattro Sportback, helping reduce drag and giving the new Q8 e-tron and Q8 Sportback e-tron respective coefficients of 0.27 and 0.24.
At the rear are new taillamp graphics and a revised bumper.
Inside, Audi’s electric-powered SUV models receive new recycled upholstery and trim options in a lightly revised cabin (pictured, above) that also features changes to the MMI (multimedia interface), which comes with MMI Navigation plus a so-called e-tron route planner as standard.
The upgraded drivelines adopt a revised electric motor. The asynchronous motor mounted on the rear axle gets 14 copper windings in the stator instead of the previous 12 for a stronger magnetic field and reduced current for lower power consumption under constant cruising conditions.
As with their predecessors, the Q8 50 e-tron and Q8 50 Sportback e-tron as well as the Q8 55 e-tron and Q8 55 Sportback e-tron use two asynchronous motors, one up front and one at the rear.
The SQ8 e-tron and SQ8 Sportback e-tron continue with the same tri-asynchronous motor layout as the models they replace, with one unit mounted in the front and two at the rear.
The Q8 arrives on a version of the MLB platform (pictured, above) rather than the more-advanced PPE setup. Audi has delayed rolling out that platform to 2024, when it will first underpin the Q6 e-tron and Q6 Sportback e-tron.
The power electronics software for each model has been upgraded with a revised operating strategy for brake-energy recuperation, which can generate up to 0.3g in its most effective mode.
Based on European specification, the power and torque of the Q8 50 e-tron and Q8 50 Sportback e-tron increase by 26 hp and 91 lb.-ft. (123 Nm) to 335 hp and 489 lb.-ft. (663 Nm). Above it, the Q8 55 e-tron and Q8 55 Sportback e-tron quattro Sportback 55 get the same output as the outgoing e-tron 55 quattro and e-tron 55 Sportback at 396 hp and 489 lb.-ft.
The SQ8 e-tron and SQ8 Sportback e-tron (pictured, below) also receive the same 496 hp and 717 lb.-ft. as the current e-tron quattro S and e-tron Sportback S, providing them with a claimed 0-62 mph (100 km/h) time of 4.5 seconds and limited 130 mph (209 km/h) top speed in boost mode.
The battery continues to operate at 400V. But Audi says the adoption of more advanced cells and a new battery management system increases the energy density by up to 20%. A revised stacking process, with altered electrode placement, also is said to increase energy efficiency.
With a revived 89-kWh lithium-ion battery, the Q8 50 e-tron and Q8 50 Sportback e-tron boast a provisional range on the WLTP test cycle of 289 miles (465 km) and 311 miles, respectively.
The battery in the Q8 55 e-tron and Q8 55 Sportback e-tron gains an added 2 kWh at 106 kWh, owing to the revised battery management system providing greater usable capacity to give them respective ranges of up 361 miles (581 km) and 372 miles (599 km).
The same 106-kWh battery features in the SQ8 e-tron and SQ8 Sportback e-tron, providing them with the same 311 miles provisional WLTP range, according to Audi.
Charging can be achieved at up to 22 kW on an AC system and either 150 kW (Q8 50 e-tron and Q8 50 Sportback e-tron) or 170 kW (SQ8 e-tron and SQ8 Sportback e-tron) on a DC system.
Audi puts the charging time (from a 10% to 80% state of charge) at 28 minutes for the 89-kWh battery and 31 minutes for the 106-kWh battery under optimal conditions.