“You’re about to embark on an epic adventure,” said Mark Dahncke, Audi’s Director of Product, Technology, and Motorsports Communication, when I arrived in a high-elevation ski town located in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains.
I’m an enthusiast of epic adventurers, so I was hooked to be a participant on Audi’s 450-mile Colorado drive from Park City to Telluride in the 2019 Q8. I wondered, however, would this 5,000-pound SUV with AWD make me look like an epic adventurer, without roof racks stuffed with gear, bulging tires, and an assemblage of eye-attracting banners on its sheet metal?
The luxury-laden midsizer is jam-packed with some of the world’s top-most comfort and convenience features, along with technologies that help you navigate, communicate, and drive without raising much of a sweat, so, what exactly would be epic?
Audi’s flagship has been designed to elicit an emotional response. Sleek and sporty, it’s punctuated by a massive grille, windswept front glass, prominent fenders, a sloping roof, and an array of dynamic LED lighting that goes beyond illumination and “converts it to a conversation.” I was wowed by specialized lighting that plays an animation to greet the driver and riders when it’s locked or unlocked.
Slipping in to the upscale cabin, I noted its clean lines, premium trims, and materials, and the open, airy feel enhanced by a standard panoramic sunroof.
I chose a Q8 Prestige trim that came with heated and ventilated 18-way power individual contour comfort front Valcona leather seats with massage. Dual-paned acoustic glass enhances quietness and a 360-degree camera system projects a 3-D rendering of the vehicle on the display screen. A cold weather package added a heated three-spoke steering wheel and heated rear seats for the five-passenger vehicle.
Our route took us through some of the country’s most majestic and historic landscapes in mostly rural settings, but what really impressed me was the confidence-inspiring handling of the new Q8. A turbocharged V-6 provided sports-minded power with a 0-to-60 mph of 5.6 seconds, making it move like a gazelle. Also appealing is the smooth-shifting eight-speed transmission that even rev matches, when called upon.
Adding to its driving prowess is the aluminum-intensive body structure, Audi’s heralded Quattro all-wheel-drive system, traction control, adjustable-height air suspension and 22-inch tires that allowed me to experience sure-footed maneuvering over icy highways and byways, where I tried out the automated lane centering and adaptive cruise control that are among its numerous safety features.
I appreciated the 10 inches of ground clearance along lengthy stretches of mud-rutted and snow-covered dirt roads, where I had the opportunity to get up close and personal with the region’s flora and fauna and feel a sense of awe snaking through red rock canyons and at the base of snow-dusted mountain ranges.
As I arrived in Telluride, I realized the Q8 did, in fact, make me look like an epic adventurer, albeit a smart traveler in an upscale 4WD conveyance. It was the mud embedded in the tires and splattered onto the sides and back of the 2019 Audi Q8. No extra badging was needed.
The new Q8 comes in Premium ($67,400), Premium Plus ($71,400), and Prestige ($76,550) trim levels with standard features that include Audi’s comprehensive MMI infotainment system and Virtual Cockpit, leather seats, and Quattro all-wheel-drive, plus adaptive cruise control, adaptive air suspension, 22-inch wheels, and a 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system on the options list. The new Audi has a four-year, 50,000-mile warranty, as well as 24-hour roadside assistance for four years.