Hello and good morning. Bob Aldons, The Car Guy, representing a Jeremy Clarkson article from the Weekend Australian about the Audi Q8. I try to share these articles via Facebook, but unfortunately whilst I’m a subscriber, to read it, you need to be a subscriber too or else you’re presented with the subscription page. Sure you don’t want that just to read an article. So, direct from Jezza, here it is.
“The car you see on this page is an Audi Q8. It is also an Audi Q7, a Porsche Cayenne, a Volkswagen Touareg, a Bentley Bentayga and a Lamborghini Urus. Despite the different styling and wildly different price tags, they’re all the same car from the same company.
But they all have different jobs. The Bentley is perfect for those who are impervious to its looks; the Lamborghini works if you are the sort of person who wraps his car in purple velvet and goes to nightclubs full of Ukrainians. The Porsche is for people who use fuel unnecessarily, the Q7 is for those who know nothing about cars and the Volkswagen is for… I have no idea.
You may say you like the made-in-Germany stamp but it, along with the Porsche and the Q7, is assembled in Bratislava, Slovakia. The Lambo is made in Sant’Agata Bolognese in Italy and the Bentley in Crewe, England. They’re all German cars but none of them was born there.
So, what of the new Q8? Well, it has a sloping rear end and pillarless doors and big, fat tyres, so it seems to be for people who want the purple velvet and the Ukrainians but don’t have the funds or the balls to go fully Lambo.
This means it’s a rival for the terrible BMW X6, and that means it’s for people who are mad. There are a lot of them out there, it seems. In the past 10 years, BMW has shifted almost half a million X6s. Audi wants a slice of that action.
The car I tested sported a badge that said 50, suggesting it had a 5-litre engine. In fact, it had a 3-litre V6 diesel unit assisted by an electric motor that together produce an unpredictable amount of power. Put your foot down and nothing would happen. Press the pedal a bit more and still, the car would fail to respond. This is because its brain has been tuned to think only of the polar bear.
Going faster would melt the tiny iceberg on which the poor creature was living. And that would be bad. You push the accelerator harder still until the brain thinks, “Uh-oh. There’s an emergency,” so it drops from seventh to second and sets off like a fat man running to catch a bus. It is almost impossible to make the Q8 increase speed by 5km/h. It either doesn’t accelerate at all or it goes berserk.
This is basically a VW engine, and after a week of extremely jerky progress, I was convinced that, instead of adhering to the EU’s rules about polar bears, it’d probably be better for all concerned if the company just cheated in some way.
I’m sure it could manage this because the Q8 (in the heavily options-ladened version I tested) has a device that gently vibrates the accelerator when you should be lifting off the gas for an upcoming roundabout or junction. Incredibly, the car is reading the road ahead on its own sat nav and working out when you can lift off and coast to a halt at precisely the right spot. It is extremely clever and it works. But it’s like having a keyboard that gives you a small electric shock every time you forget to use a comma.
There’s more cleverness. The car is able to steer itself by following the white lines, but after a few moments, the driver is told to regain control. If you don’t regain control when told to do so, it will brake the car to a gentle halt and call emergency services, assuming you’ve had a medical issue. I prefer the CGI system that provides a live feed of your progress down the road.
In the Audi you can slide your finger over the screen to adjust the camera angle. There is no purpose to this; it’s just something you do while turning round and excitedly telling people in the back what you’re up to, safe in the knowledge that if a junction’s coming up, the throttle pedal will issue a warning by vibrating your foot.
As I said, all of this stuff is fantastically clever. Some of it is even useful, and a tiny bit will keep you safe. But after a week with the Q8 I’m forced to conclude that Audi has lost sight of what a car is for. There has to be some excitement. Because if there isn’t any joy in driving, people will conclude that Uber offers a better service and no one will buy a car.
Despite the all-wheel-drive system and the four-wheel steering and the driving mode that lets you choose how the steering and the air suspension “feel”, it never causes your heart to beat a little bit more quickly. It’s a transportation device, not a car.
Fast facts Audi Q8
Engine: 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 mild hybrid (210kW/600Nm)
Average fuel 6.8 litres per 100km
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Price: £65,040 (on sale in Australia 2019)
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
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