The world of high-performance SUVs just got more interesting with the debut of Audi’s 2020 SQ7 and SQ8. Both are high-performance derivatives of the humble Q7 and swoopy Q8 SUV, and both are equipped with a punchy 500-horsepower V8 engine.
Both SQ models were updated in Europe last year. But instead of a gasoline-fed V8, the previous SQ7 and SQ8 were brandishing a V8 diesel mill under the hood. It had 429 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque. And despite weighing 5,000 pounds each, both diesel versions of the SQ7 and SQ8 were quick enough to breach 60 mph from a standstill in 4.8-seconds.
Granted the diesel SQ7 and SQ8 never made it to the U.S., but Audi knows how to make an impression in the land of SUVs. The 2020 Audi SQ7 and SQ8 are now standard with a 4.0-liter bi-turbo gasoline V8 engine producing 500 horsepower and 568 pound-feet of torque. Yes, the gasoline V8 produces less torque than the diesel version, but it’s as close as you can get to the mighty RS Q8’s 590 pound-feet of twist.
The new gasoline V8 motor is connected to an eight-speed automatic transmission driving all four wheels courtesy of Audi’s Quattro AWD. Audi claims the V8 achieves a reasonable 19.4 to 19.6 mpg with the engine’s cylinder-on-demand (COD) system. It deactivates four of the cylinders in moderate driving, Audi says, and greatly reduces fuel consumption in city driving.
Meanwhile, the pair of twin-scroll turbochargers are relocated to the 90-degree V of the engine. This means an optimized gas exchange between the turbochargers and cylinder banks to greatly reduce engine backpressure. More importantly, this design ensures immediate oomph and better throttle response. And with a two-mode exhaust system, you can treat your ears to that magnificent V8 growl.
If you want to get frisky, both the Audi SQ7 and SQ8 can rush to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds. According to Audi, top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph. Both are equipped with adaptive air suspension and rear-wheel steering to improve handling and maneuverability.
The system turns the rear wheels in the opposite direction of the front wheels at lower speeds to reduce the turning circle. At higher speeds, the rear wheels turn in the same direction for better stability. An optional electromechanical roll stabilization system virtually eliminates body roll in spirited driving.
As expected, the 2020 Audi SQ7 and Audi SQ8 won’t come cheap. The SQ7 starts at around $86,000 while the SQ8 is at $89,995. We admit, that’s a lot of money for an SUV, but it’s a bargain compared to the RS6 Avant and RS Q8’s above-$100k base price. The 2020 SQ7 will arrive first, Audi says, while the SQ8 will follow in late autumn 2020.