Audi's new Euro SQ8 gets a serious diesel engine and other tech tweaks

The SQ8 benefits from adjustments to its mild hybrid system, differentials and other changes.

Kyle Hyatt Former news and features editor
Kyle Hyatt (he/him/his) hails originally from the Pacific Northwest, but has long called Los Angeles home. He's had a lifelong obsession with cars and motorcycles (both old and new).
Kyle Hyatt
2 min read
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Audi's SQ8 fixes some of the regular Q8's aesthetic issues and adds a huge amount of performance.


Audi's Q8 SUV is a fairly sophisticated piece of kit. Thanks to the wonders of platform sharing with the likes of Porsche, Bentley and Lamborghini, it has a chassis that punches well above its weight class, but in standard trim, it wasn't exactly setting the world on fire with its 3.0-liter V6 engine.

Well, we in the US may be destined to live with that somewhat pedestrian powerplant, but the folks in Europe are getting something with a little more spice in the new SQ8, according to an announcement made Monday by Audi -- a 4.0-liter twin-turbo diesel V8 that makes 664 pound-feet of torque and 430 horsepower.

"Wait a minute," you may be saying. "Didn't Audi have some, shall we say 'issues' with diesel in the recent past?" 

Yes, it did. Its 3.0-liter TDI engine was among those called out for diesel emissions cheating, but this new 4.0-liter mill is a different animal entirely. It uses a hot-V layout -- similar to Mercedes-AMG's beloved 4.0-liter V8 -- for better response, and its turbochargers get further spooling help from an electrically driven compressor.

In addition to this monster motor, the SQ8 gets a ton of other technological toys to help it hide its girth and make it more fun to drive. This is especially true of the top-tier Vorsprung trim -- getting its name from Audi's racing motto "Vorsprung durch Technik" or "Progress Through Technology."

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The Q8's pleasant but staid interior gets a little sporting up in SQ8 trim, particularly if you go for the top-tier Vorsprung model.


The Vorsprung models get four-wheel steering, active roll stabilization (made possible by the 48-volt electrical system that all Q8 models get) and a special sporting rear differential for its Quattro all-wheel drive system. Will the SQ8 handle like a 911? Likely not. Will it be way more engaging than a car of its size and weight should be? We're betting yes.

In addition to all the technological go-fast stuff, the SQ8 gets a whole host of interior changes and a few exterior changes to differentiate it from its more pedestrian cousins. The interior changes include sport seats with integrated headrests and in the Vorsprung model those seats get heating and cooling as well as massage functions. The rest is typical Audi S stuff -- lots of black leather and Alcantara, diamond stitching, etc.

The SQ8 will be available in the UK starting in July, but Audi hasn't made mention of pricing, though we expect it to be, uh, "robust." Also, we've had no word on whether Audi will bring some flavor of SQ8 to the US (likely without the cool diesel engine).

2020 Audi Q8 doesn't sacrifice in the name of fashion

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