As a quick refresh, the form that MLB platform takes beneath the Q8 is ever so slightly different than it is in the Q7. It has a wheelbase that’s shorter by 1mm, at 2994mm, wider tracks and adaptive, sports-tuned air suspension that’s standard rather than an optional extra.
Even on the optional 22in alloys (£1750) fitted to our test car, this all translated to a ride quality that, for the most part, leaves very little to be desired. In Comfort mode, it remains soft enough to ensure passage over undulating road surfaces is cushioned and forgiving without the compromise of lacklustre vertical body control. It doesn’t feel quite as tight as the Cayenne in this regard, but there’s still an impressive fluency to the manner in which it travels over variable surfaces.
Through bends, the Q8 manages to remain adequately flat. There is, of course, some degree of body roll around the lateral axis - this is still a 2145kg SUV - but the controlled, progressive manner in which this weight shifts from right to left won’t discourage you from properly pressing on. And if you do decide to lean on the Q8 through the twisty bits, there’s a healthy reserve of grip waiting to meet you, courtesy of Quattro all-wheel drive and the 285/40-section rubber that’s wrapped around those 22in wheels (or 285/45 on the standard 21in rims). Four-wheel steering – another extra, at £1950 – also heightens the big Audi’s agility.
Pop the Q8 into Dynamic mode and things firm up, providing closer levels of vertical and sideways control. The trade-off here, though, is a heightened awareness of the mild jostling that occurs at lower speeds, even in Comfort mode, over blemished surfaces, while compressions through dips aren’t as masked.
That jostling isn’t a deal-breaker, though, nor is it a reason to not opt for the larger alloys should they take your fancy; the standard set, after all, only offer a relatively subtle respite from this.
As for the steering, it’s pleasingly weighted but comes with that sense of vagueness that’s typical of Audi’s larger models. It’s direct and lends the Q8 a keen sense of responsiveness, but at the same time, it removes you from the driving experience slightly more than you might like in a model that has so obviously been conceived to be sportier and more engaging than the SUV to which it’s so closely related.
And while the diesel V6's 442lb ft of torque provides plenty of smooth, refined acceleration out of corners, the eight-speed automatic gearbox can take its time when finding the right gear. The shift paddles are a good way of remedying this, mind.