The SUV growth has seen the replacement of luxury saloons with luxury SUVs over the last few years.
The expected brand names as well as some unexpected names appear in the possible nominees. BMW X6/X7, Mercedes Benz GLS/GLE, Maserati Levante, Bentley Bentayga, Lamborghini Urus, Porsche Cayenne, Aston Martin DBX, through to the ridiculously expensive Rolls Royce Cullinan.
The latest Range Rover is yet to be released but is set to stand out when it is.
Our final three nominees are:
- Range Rover Sport
- Maserati Levante
- Audi SQ8
I would be seriously happy with either of the final three vehicles.
Audi SQ8 – Winner
If the Audi Q8 isn’t enough for you then there is always the SQ8.
Audi SQ8 seems to have the almost perfect blend of size, luxury and performance. All for a reasonable price. More details HERE
In a segment full of excellent SUVs, Audi SQ8 comes out on top.
Audi SQ8 Model Range
There is one SQ8 priced from $169,600 MLP*
The Q8 range has three other models, two in the Q8 one TFSI and one TDI and one RSQ8 which is a blistering performance SUV.
Audi SQ8 General Thoughts
Audi Q8 is a stylish large SUV that fits five in comfort and ideal as a long distance tourer. The Q8 range is one of the best looking SUVs on the market, with a sleek, rounded style that seems to sit like a prowling lion.
Standard SQ8 features include: S body styling (S front and rear bumpers, grille, side sills and rear tailgate spoiler), 22-inch alloy wheels, and Matrix LED headlights with dynamic rear indicators, red brake callipers, and adaptive air suspension sport, exterior mirrors in aluminium look, privacy glass, power assisted door closure and metallic paint.
Inside it’s a touch upmarket from the luxurious Q8.
Featuring exceptionally comfortable S sport front seats, premium Valcona leather upholstery with diamond pattern stitching.
In front of the driver there is a 3-spoke flat-bottom steering wheel, and the familiar Audi virtual cockpit.
Other comfort features include: 4-zone climate control air conditioning, colour interior ambient lighting package, control buttons in black glass with haptic feedback, extended aluminium look for centre console buttons, electric steering column adjust, headlining in black cloth, centre door armrests and console in leather.
Like the Q8, state-of-the-art connectivity and infotainment create a unique driving experience in the SQ8 TDI with a suite of innovative features including, MMI touch response system with 10.1-inch (lower) and 8.6-inch (lower) touch screen, Audi virtual cockpit and Audi Smartphone Interface with the integration of approved apps (Android auto, wireless Apple CarPlay).
Audi connect plus navigation provides a range of entertainment and information services through the high-speed internet access from the embedded SIM in the SQ8 TDI.
Sitting inside the SQ8 is like relaxing in your lounge at home, it’s that comfortable. Rear seats are spacious and the boot room huge.
Audi SQ8 Engine and Drivetrain
The heart of the SQ8 is a 4.0L Twin Turbo diesel V8 engine producing 320kW of power and a massive 900Nm of torque from as low as 1250 rpm. This drives all four wheels through am 8 speed Tiptronic transmission and Audi’s brilliant QUATTRO AWD system
This combination will propel this 2600kg SUV from 0-100kmh in 4.8 seconds and top out at a limited 250kmh. It will tow 3500kg as well. SQ8 V8 diesel linear acceleration is sheer delight
However these figures only tell part of the story. Yes it’s full of extra standard features over the Q8, yes it’s got all-wheel steering, adaptive air suspension and electromechanical active roll stabilisation and sport differential
What is special is the feeling you get driving the SQ8, its unbelievably comfortable and quiet.
It cocoons the occupants in luxury for long distance driving and behaves like a sports car half its weight.
It engages the driver in a way that makes you want to go for a drive.
Audi SQ8 Final Thoughts
Audi SQ8 has smooth ride and handling and effortless performance…
It’s a big, fast, comfortable SUV that is ideal for the long distances we travel in Australia.
Pack the family in and head for the snow and you will arrive relaxed.
What is good?
What is not so good?
Audi SQ8 S-Line Quattro
|4.0L V8 Twin Turbo Diesel
|Quattro AWD 8 speed Auto
|320kW @ 4700rpm
|900Nm @ 1250-3250rpm
|5 Star ANCAP
|7.8 L/100km 9.0L/100K on test
|Tow Capacity/Tow Ball
|3500 Kg / 350kg
|0-100kmh / Top speed
|4.8 sec / 250kmh
|12 Months / 30,000 5 Year service plan
|5yr/ Unlimited km with 5 Yr. Conditional roadside assist
|Behind the Wheel
|Ride and Handling
|Fit for Purpose
|Towing / AWD Capability
|9 AWD – 4/5 Towing 5/5
|Value for Money
*Towing and AWD Capability is compared to other similar vehicles in the same class.
Audi SQ8 Dimensions
|Width / Height
|1995mm / 1749mm
|Unladen ground clearance / wading depth
|Up to 209mm / TBA mm
|Approach / Rampover / Departure angles
|Fuel Tank / Turning Circle
|85 Litres / 13.3mts KTK
|Tare Mass/ Payload / GVM / GCM
|2480kg / 500kg / 2960kg / 6460KG
|Boot space Min / Max
|605L / 1755L
|Towing Capacity / Tow Ball rating
|3500kg / 350kg
Maserati Levante – Finalist
Maserati Levante is yet another product from a prestige brand that has joined the SUV revolution.
Maserati Levante has been an outstanding success with over 95% of buyers being new to the brand.
Levante comes in four different models, GT, Modena, Modena S and the sport version the Trofeo.
There are three different engine choices depending on what model you pick. Prices range from $126,990 MLP* through to $298,990 MLP*.
Levante, perhaps more than any other SUV presents an elegant profile. The design is long and sleek and simply beautiful.
That elegance transfers inside as well. Again beautiful and functional design is the main impression. It does feel a little old school compared to a few other prestige SUVs and the connectivity needs updating a touch, but you can overlook that as its feels awesome sitting there.
Everything revolves around the driver, as you would expect from Maserati. Rear seats are a little cramped, surprising given the sheer size. Boot room is good.
Driving the Levante is engaging, no matter which model you choose. You seem to simply lope along, it’s deceptively quick, and with a rear bias to the AWD system, sporty handling is expected.
Maserati Levante is definitely worth a drive if you are in the market for a prestige SUV.
What is good?
What is not so good?
Range Rover Sport has been a huge success for the brand since it was first introduced.
There is a wide choice of models ranging from a D250 SE priced from $120,016 MLP* through to the stunning SVR priced from $283,645 MLP* In between there is a choice of petrol and diesel engines in various output sizes and a PHEV which I love.
We drove the R-Dynamic HSE D350.
It’s a good looking SUV from the outside and inside the luxurious and comfortable ambience is pure Range Rover.
The ambience inside is pure luxury and comfort with contrast cream and dark leather. The driver ergonomics are spot on and there is plenty of room for the front occupants.
In front of the driver is a configurable instrument binnacle and the twin central screens set up works a treat.
Rear seats are a little cramped for knee room, but the head room is ample. Boot is more than adequate.
The 3.0L twin turbo inline Ingenium six cylinder mild hybrid diesel engine is a beauty. It provides a surge of acceleration as well as excellent economy. With 221kW and 650Nm available the driving is smooth and responsive. Not that owners will use it but the RR Sport also has awesome 4WD capability.
There are few manufacturers that can match the Range Rover ride over corrugated dirt roads. It retains its composure with ease. It’s as much at home at the snow as it is on the motorway.
Be wary of the long and expensive options list, dally too long and tick a few boxes and the price can escalate rapidly. I’m not sure I would pay upwards of $14,000 for a premium sound system, but I would $6,000 plus for ventilated and massage front seats, they were exceptionally comfortable.
Overall the Range Rover Sport is amongst the best in class.
What is good?
What is not so good?
*MLP Includes GST and LCT but excluding statutory charges, dealer costs and dealer delivery. See your dealer for RDAP. Does not include price of options. Some features mentioned in the article are options. RDAP means Recommended Drive Away Price (without options but including all other charges)