Audi's 500-horsepower SQ8 generates some heat in the Qatar desert

Audi's 500-horsepower SQ8 generates some heat in the Qatar desert

Audi’s loaded version of its flagship gasoline-powered Q8 SUV — the SQ8 — made its formal public debut at the Qatar version of the Geneva motor show, packed with several technology upgrades and flashing a hot fire-engine red exterior.

Following the lead of the recently updated electrtc Audi Q8 E-Tron, the German brand’s BMW X7 rival showed up in the desert with some subtle styling changes hiding its V8, a twin-turbo 4.0-liter engine producing nearly 500 horsepower. The exterior gleams under smoother surfacing, larger front air intakes for a more aggressive look and a new exhaust system.

At the front of the show car, there are optional HD Matrix LED headlights with a laser high beam while the taillights now employ OLEDs. In the UK, the new Audi Q8 gas range consists of three core specifications: S Line, Black Edition and Vorsprung, offering a choice of petrol and diesel powertrains. The performance-focused SQ8, which has Black Edition and Vorspung variants, is priced from about $120,000 and has bespoke exterior styling and 23-inch alloy wheels as standard, as well as Quattro all-wheel drive, adaptive air sports suspension and parking assistance.

As previously reported, pricing for the SQ8’s revised electric sibling starts at $90,895 for the 2024 SQ8 E-Tron after the $1,095 destination charge. The SQ8 E-Tron skips the entry-level Premium trim available on the Q8 E-Tron, so comparing like for like, the SQ8 E-Tron Premium Plus starts at about $11,000 above the electric Q8 E-Tron Premium Plus. The SQ8 Sportback E-Tron starts at $93,695, close to $10,000 more than the Q8 Sportback E-tron Premium Plus. 

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Going forward, Audi will continue to sell the gasoline and diesel Q8 and SQ8 versions alongside a fully electric Q8 E-Tron / Q8 E-Tron Sportback. The 2024 SQ8 E-Tron should arrive at U.S. dealers in the fourth quarter of this year. Presumably the internal combustion models should also be along soon.