2020 Audi SQ8 is characterized by installation

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Six-digit performance crossovers like the Audi SQ8 2020 do not make any compromises. These intersections promise the generous cargo space of an SUV with sports car handling and super sports car acceleration. The SQ8 adds luxury car touches like massage seats and connected car technology that works better than Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

New for 2020 and like the rest of mankind delayed by the pandemic, the SQ8, in contrast to the Lamborghini Urus or Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat, is the subtle performance crossover. Subtlety can be attractive. The SQ8 has a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8, but it doesn’t thunder through the neighborhood; the fast roof line shoots the breeze without a clumsy coupé-like cut that restricts headroom in the rear; and the design lacks the hood vanes, racing stripes, and huge air intakes worn by other performance crossovers announcing their intent to the world.

In this nifty, if not sedate, style lurks a fiery beast that looks just as much at home as it takes the kids to church, as it prays to God while going 60 mph in 4.3 seconds. That is where the challenge lies. The performance crossover premise is that it is more reasonable to spend an additional $ 25,000 on a vehicle than to buy both an SUV and a sports sedan.

2020 Audi SQ8

The SQ8 costs roughly $ 90,000 versus the Q8’s $ 78,000, and my tester finished at over $ 107,000. It was a reality to dampen this compromise between price and performance. My weeklong loan was booked through blizzards totaling more than 20 inches and strung between sub-zero temperatures that made me the envy of Han Solo’s carbonite grave for not having to deal with the chill of the wind.

Although these were sub-optimal conditions for testing the grip of 21-inch wheels on all-season tires (22-inch summer performance tires are a free option) with up to 568 lb-ft of torque, I rode it among many Conditions driver face when reality hits idealism in the sunny face.

The SQ8 has four-wheel drive that sends 60% of the torque to the rear wheels. My tester had the optional $ 5,900 Sports Package, which includes an active stabilizer powered by a 48-volt battery – a system I couldn’t really test out. It also had a torque vectoring rear differential that I ended up testing for a different type of grip than intended.

2020 Audi SQ8

2020 Audi SQ8

One night when fresh snow covered a layer of ice on my suburban back streets, I gave full throttle to a corner for a little kick. The stability control system braked the inside wheel and directed torque to the outside wheel, and the rear differential kicked in to keep me from reliving my teenage years. In the snow the SQ8 was too stable, too good and instilled confidence when I picked up the kids later when the snow got deeper. The standard rear-axle steering also enabled more precision when parking at low speeds by effectively shortening the wheelbase.

That’s not to say there wasn’t a chance for fun. Small paddle shifters helped modulate highway maneuvers, but the hassle-free 8-speed automatic did it well itself. On straight ramps in dynamic mode, when the standard adaptive air suspension was lowered, the SQ8 reared up like a rear-wheel drive sports car, partly because of the 40/60 rear axle preload of the all-wheel drive system.

The twin-turbo V-8 shook off the SQ8’s stately 5,324-pound weight as smoothly as our heroes escaping Jabba the Hut. When I found a dry patch and poured it, the polite, composed 500-horsepower V-8 buttoned itself to a howl that overwhelmed the senses until I glanced at the speed on the head-up display.

2020 Audi SQ8

2020 Audi SQ8

This display is part of the $ 5,500 Prestige equipment package, which includes driver assistance functions such as adaptive cruise control that can be restarted after a stop in traffic, but also maintains a reasonable distance when driving on the motorway. The system is easy to use and on longer journeys it shares the load with enough hands-free driving for the driver to stretch their arms.

Comfort was never an issue with the SQ8, while some performance crossovers can ride stiff enough to rethink long journeys. In comfort mode, the air suspension helps to soak up road seams and loosen the steering feedback. Comfort came mainly from the front seats, which were covered in quilted red leather. The tester had massaging front seats with controls hidden in a dial on the seat base. The massage function could also be set via the 8.6-inch center touchscreen, which is below the 10.1-inch touchscreen for media and navigation, but it was quicker to reach down and turn.

The lower 8.6-inch touchscreen replaces the traditional climate controls, but I’m not convinced it’s better. The haptic feedback provided button-like confirmation, and it was easy to adjust the air direction via the slim band of vents that draw over the dash, but all that reflective glossy black has been smeared and the dials will always be quicker to blow the heat.

2020 Audi SQ8

2020 Audi SQ8

However, look at those nits you picked because Audi’s infotainment is the best on the market. Audi’s MMI navigation system is one of the few native systems I prefer Apple CarPlay, with its crystal clear Google Earth 3D display that can be transferred to the 12.3-inch digital instrument. With rotary controls and a view button on the steering wheel, it’s easy to use and easier to configure what you want to see based on your driving style; Watching the horsepower and torque bars light up never gets old.

Despite all this performance and technology, I was able to stow my daughter’s goalkeeper hockey bag in the luggage compartment without having to take off the 60/40 split rear seats. No compromise.

The SQ8 doesn’t squeeze into a third row like the Audi Q7 and it doesn’t bend into the roof to pretend to be a coupe. The integrated rear roof spoiler starts above the rear wheel so the rear window sits at a 45-degree angle, but the lower half is roomy enough to hold 30.5 cubic feet of smelly gear, or 60.7 cubic feet with the seats folded down. That’s about nine cubic feet less than the longer Q7.

2020 Audi SQ8

2020 Audi SQ8

If you want more power in your crossover, the SQ8 is undoubtedly well worth the $ 20,000 extra charge. The question is how much power do you want because Audi has an even more extreme range. The RS Q8 accelerates the V-8 to 591 horsepower and cuts the time from 0-60 mph to 3.7 seconds, but adds another $ 25,000 to the price of the SQ8.

Given the variable way we live and drive, the 2020 SQ8 offers that no-compromise combination of performance and utility without barking for attention.

Provided to Audi Motor Authority one week in SQ8 2020 to bring you this report firsthand.

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