2023 Audi Q8 E-Tron aims for 300 miles and charges faster

Audi unveiled a comprehensive refresh of its E-Tron large electric SUV on Tuesday, with a further push towards better range and efficiency.

It also changes its name: the E-Tron and E-Tron Sportback will be called the Q8 E-Tron and Q8 E-Tron Sportback from 2023.

The name change strategy is part of what Audi calls a new corporate identity, focused on high quality and modern design – and a move upmarket and upmarket for this model, whereas the SUV and the Smaller and more affordable Sportback Q4 E-Tron join in.

The more formal SUV body style and the Sportback, with its somewhat tapered, coupe-like roofline, both carry over to the Q8 E-Tron range. Refreshed trims, colors and materials, along with an expanded tech feature set, should all go a long way to asserting that more premium stance.

2023 Audi Q8 E-Tron Sportback

Cosmetics aside, Audi is aiming for a much higher range this time: “around 300” miles, he said, noting how important it is to have “a range number that starts with three” according to US EPA standards.

Longer battery life, faster charging

“By far, the number one wish of our Audi E-Tron customers was simply more range and efficiency,” said Carter Balkcom, a product marketing expert for E-Tron, during a background session describing some of the basics of the Q8, referencing the follow-ups the brand did with early E-Tron SUV buyers.

The Q8’s predecessor, the outgoing E-Tron family, includes a 71 kWh battery and a 95 kWh battery. With the refresh, the Q8 E-tron, globally, will offer 95kWh and 114kWh batteries, with the 114kWh pack being the only size offered for North America. Although actual EPA figures are yet to come, Audi says it will allow WLTP range of up to 600 km under WLTP standards.

2023 Audi Q8 E-Tron

2023 Audi Q8 E-Tron

Despite the greater energy capacity of the battery, it is also configured to recharge faster. Audi has increased the load curve where people are most likely to notice it. The Q8 E-Tron’s peak charge dropped from 150kw (officially, although we’ve observed 155kw several times) to 170kw, right in the middle of the battery state of charge. Audi claims this ensured a 10% to 80% charge in as little as 31 minutes, which is even more significant given the extra battery and range.

It uses the exact same battery case and slot as before, and the same size cells, but in order to fit more power into it, the company is using a new stacking technology for prismatic cells – the same size cells as in current pack.

2023 Audi Q8 E-Tron

2023 Audi Q8 E-Tron

The cells were Nickel Manganese Cobalt (NMC) in the outgoing model, while in the new model the cells switch to a Nickel Cobalt Aluminum (NCA) chemistry.

No weight gain (well almost)

Even taking the extra power into account, Audi has kept the weight gain to a minimum. The 114 kWh pack, at 1,602 pounds, is only about 44 pounds heavier than the previous 95 kWh pack. That offsets most of that weight gain in other parts of the car, like a new lightweight underbody armor setup that saves about 15 pounds.

The larger battery packs 20% more energy, but Audi sees a range increase of 30% or more. That’s because it improved efficiency in several other ways, some more granular than you might expect for a mid-cycle refresh.

2023 Audi Q8 E-Tron

2023 Audi Q8 E-Tron

For example, the number of windings in the E-Tron’s rear induction motor has been increased from 12 to 14, allowing the motor to produce torque with less current than before, improving efficiency. Likewise, there are “new tricks,” according to the company, that allow the motors to spin more freely when there’s no load. And it changed the way the E-Tron uses its front motor versus its rear motor.

Audi is renaming the three-motor E-Tron S to the SQ8 E-Tron, although performance figures continue – a 0-60mph dash of 4.5 seconds for the SQ8, while the expected 55 variant for the States United will handle it in 5.6 seconds.

Tuned to be sportier

It has also been worked on to improve the dynamics of the Q8 E-Tron. A quicker steering ratio and new steering calibration, plus new suspension arms aim to give a sportier feel on the road, and the air suspension has been retuned to support this. Additionally, now 100% of all Q8 E-Trons worldwide will have the air suspension setup.

Digital matrix headlight technology carries over to the Q8 E-Tron, with new features for turn signals and lane lights, including specific black arrows for highway use. The lamps now help to inform and react in the event of an accident or breakdown to come.

Audi pointed out that it’s still trying to get some of these advanced features approved for the US, including virtual side mirrors, so don’t expect them at launch.

2023 Audi Q8 E-Tron

2023 Audi Q8 E-Tron

2023 Audi Q8 E-Tron

2023 Audi Q8 E-Tron

2023 Audi Q8 E-Tron

2023 Audi Q8 E-Tron

The interior of the Q8 E-Tron is perhaps what holds the most back, although Audi notes that it has emphasized color and trim, with a new type of walnut wood for the inlays, as well as a plastic fabric made from PET bottles and a new pack of red stitching. All seats now have contrast stitching, and there’s also a suede substitute made from recycled materials.

Positioned more as a flagship

Audi has yet to detail the E-Tron lineup for the US, or indicate how pricing might change. But it is fair to assume that they will increase significantly. The range now starts with the mid-level Advanced range, Audi said, with no more base E-Trons in the Q8 translation.

2023 Audi SQ8 E-Tron

2023 Audi SQ8 E-Tron

The new Q8 E-Tron range will go into production for Europe in mid-November, with first deliveries there in late February and US deliveries not arriving until two months later.

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