The new Audi Q8: Expressive design with the features of the original Audi quattro

For me, Audi is one of the ‘classiest’ of the luxury motoring brands: subtle lines, smooth drives and a brand that’s more ‘old money’ than flashy and ostentatious (after all the royals love them and Princess Di had one).

Audi is also at the forefront of technology and driver safety too – I discover more exciting features in each of the Audis I drive. The newest addition to the Q family, the gorgeous Audi Q8 has some wow specs that I’m sharing with you here…

The elegance of a four-door luxury coupé with the practical versatility of a large SUV

My Samurai Grey Audi Q8 55 TFSI quattro tiptronic was delivered just in time for a family road trip to the KZN midlands. As beautiful on the inside as its exterior, the Valcona leather with embossed S logo, Audi phone box and LTE support, LED lights that projected those iconic Audi rings onto the ground when you open the door… this ultra luxury SUV is packed full of features that I was keen to play with once I got on the road.

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Impressive safety features

A 200 km trip on the freeway is a great way to get the feel of this beauty – the power of the three-litre petrol engine and the safety features – adaptive cruise assist, efficiency assist, crossing assist, lane change warning, curb warning and 360 degree cameras – all activated by the central driver assistance controller.

How it works –The system is continuously computing a differentiated model of the surroundings and uses this to manage the assistance systems. The required data are obtained – depending on the selected options – from up to five radar sensors, six cameras, 12 ultrasound sensors and the laser scanner.

Be wowed by the MMI touch response display and Audi virtual cockpit

The Audi Q8 comes standard with the top-of-the-line infotainment system, MMI navigation plus.

It includes the Audi connect module which transforms the vehicle into a Wi-Fi hotspot. In addition to the two displays of the MMI touch response, the Audi virtual cockpit increases the overview for the driver. It’s 12.3” high-resolution LCD display combined with the fully digital instrument cluster is customisable by the driver. All the functions and services are depicted using superb graphics with a 3D impression and detailed effects in brilliant clarity, while the natural language voice control turns the Audi Q8 into an intelligent dialogue partner.

This was the most impressive (and useful) feature for me: when I left my phone in the wireless charging compartment, a voice reminded me that “Your phone is still in the vehicle” every time I opened the driver door. (Yes, it happened more than once.) This, for me, is reason enough to buy the Audi Q8 when I win the Lotto.

And, if you have a recent model iPhone, you can integrate it with the standard Audi Smartphone Interface which supports Apple CarPlay.

Customized contour seats with massage function are highly recommended

Options including customized contour seats with massage function – and having enjoyed this for a week in the Audi RS 5 Sportback earlier this year, if you’re paying over a million for a car, spend a bit more and add the massage function.

Contour lighting colours to suit your mood

In the dark, the interior contour light traces the distinctive design lines of the car’s inside and provides backlighting for the three dimensionally lasered quattro badge above the glove compartment – an example of Audi’s love of detail. With a choice of 30 colours, the Audi Q8 can create a fascinating interior ambience according to your mood. DO you want one yet?

Standard HD Matrix LED headlights

The HD Matrix LED headlights provide daylight-like illumination of the road in both dipped and high beam. We had to do some driving on gravel country roads and the headlights did a ‘sweep’ of the bushes on either side – we spotted a bushbuck before it stepped into the road. No idea how Audi does this – they describe it as “innovative technologies”,  but both oncoming and preceding vehicles are not dazzled and traffic signs are not over-illuminated, while important areas still remain fully lit up.

And while we’re talking lights, the R8 has another cool Audi signature feature that impressed the kids (and my husband  too) – animation of the daytime running lights and rear lights.

The tech and safety features dazzled me so much, that I haven’t gone into much detail about fuel consumption (it’s somewhere between nine and 11 litres /100 kms depending where – and how – you drive), but if you can afford R1 388 000 (excluding options), then fuel consumption probably isn’t a major concern, although this isn’t bad for an SUV with a 3-litre engine.

What I can tell you is that the Audi Q8 55 TFSI quattro tiptronic offers a lot of car for your bucks – and delivers unparalleled understated luxury, safety and technology to anyone lucky enough to buy one.

Sasha Wyatt-Minter drove the Audi Q8 for a week for review purposes.