ABT’s example of tuning an Audi, the subtle way

The Audi Q8, another one in a long line of coupe-bodied luxury SUVs, was launched this year and has now been given the ABT Sportsline treatment. The end result is subtle but, as a house tuner for Audi, ABT knew how to churn out every ounce of performance out of the Q8.

The Q8, which is categorized as a mid-size luxury coupe SUV, is an alternative to the Cayenne or the X7. It’s the first model designed by Audi’s new chief of design, Marc Lichte, and arrived with a choice of two V-6 engines: a 3.0-liter twin-scroll turbocharged gas engine and a 3.0-liter diesel.

Now, ABT took it upon themselves to improve, aesthetically as well as mechanically, the Q8. What they’ve unveiled is a great example of the ’less is more’ ideology: the car doesn’t have a widebody or particularly flashy add-ons but makes a strong statement nonetheless. Having said that, ABT announced that a new aero kit for the Q8 is in the works.

Keep on reading to learn more about the Audi Q8 by ABT.

Audi Q8 by ABT Exterior

2018 Audi Q8 by ABT Exterior
- image 802904

"For those who want a little more in terms of look and feel than the production version can offer, ABT Sportsline has the answer", is how German tuning company ABT starts the statement released alongside the new Q8 ABT. It may sound like they’re getting ahead of themselves but ABT isn’t just another tuning company that decided to take on an Audi project. No, ABT is the top Audi tuner in the world and they have been customizing the cars with the Four Rings on the nose for the better part of three decades.

The new SUV, which is built at the Audi plant in Bratislava, Slovakia, looks almost bone stock in ABT guise.

Granted, ABT 'threatened' us that they're cooking up a "comprehensive Aero package" so this is just the first step in modifying the Q8.

What we can see is that the glorious honeycomb grille up front was left untouched, as is the case with the outer grilles incorporated in the lower part of the front bumper. The rear is also essentially unchanged with the connected rear taillights and the twin exhaust setup still in place. At least, the 50 TDI model comes with new rims.

2018 Audi Q8 by ABT Exterior
- image 802901

ABT Sportsline lets you choose between two 22-inch rim types that fit well within the Q8s wheel arches. "Two interesting options are available: the sporty, elegant ABT FR in mystic black with front-polished double spokes – or the extremely present ABT SPORT GR", said ABT in an exuberant launch press release. "The wheel with the strongly concave rim base is available in matt black with diamond-machined surface or in glossy black with diamond-machined rim flange".

Audi Q8 by ABT Interior

2019 Audi Q8 Interior
- image 782219

Note: Standard Audi Q8 pictured here.

The German tuners decided it’s fitting to also fiddle with the interior of the Q8. It already looks spaceship-like with the center infotainment screen neatly incorporated in the dashboard fascia. There’s also a second screen within the center console which commands even more functions available at your fingertips. The whole interior exudes a premium feel as Audi only used lavish leather and premium metals across the board.

What ABT has done is add a start-stop button cover which blends in with the rest of the surroundings so good you might not even notice it's changed.

We’ll let you decide whether that’s good or bad. ABT argues that "[the button cover] still lets experts know that there is something very special hiding under the hood of this vehicle." The statement doubles down by saying that "the ABT integrated entrance light is another optional visual effect, projecting the tuner logo onto the asphalt when the door is open." This might make some people notice that you’re not driving around in a standard Q8 - just maybe.

Audi Q8 by ABT Drivetrain

2018 Audi Q8 by ABT Exterior
- image 802907

The Q8 comes, at the moment, with only two engine options. You can either opt for the 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 gas engine or the V-6 turbo-diesel engine. The latter is what’s under the hood of the 50 TDI Q8 by ABT. Originally, the engine develops 286 horsepower and 442.5 pound-feet of torque.

But ABT was able to extract more from the diesel unit through the ABT Engine Control unit (AEC). According to the Bavarian tuner, it "ensures maximum reliability and optimum power delivery". On top of that, "complex calibration runs on the chassis dynamometer and on public roads as well as comprehensive measures for engine protection and extensive warranties render this possible".

What this tailor-made ECU does that's particularly to our liking, though, is that it boosts the power output to 330 horsepower and 479.4 pound-feet of torque.

The power still hits the road through the sophisticated Tiptronic gearbox and the Quattro AWD system. Also, the Q8 by ABT still weighs about 4,916 pounds but, with the added ponies, the 0 to 62 mph time should drop below the 6-second mark. The top speed might be limited now to 155 mph.

Drivetrain V-6 turbo-diesel
Horsepower 330 HP
Torque 479.4 LB-FT
Weight 4,916 Lbs
0 to 60 mph under 6 seconds
Top Speed 155 mph

Audi Q8 by ABT Pricing

2018 Audi Q8 by ABT Exterior
- image 802906

ABT Sportsline didn’t inform us in their statement about the price of this subtle tuning kit. We only know how much a bone-stock Q8 would set you back and that’s anywhere between $67,400 and $76,550 depending on the trim level you go for.

Final Thoughts

2018 Audi Q8 by ABT Exterior
- image 802903

ABT Sportsline’s first stab at modifying the new Q8 is a rather toothless machine. Yes, the Germans successfully managed to get more horsepower out of the turbocharged diesel engine but they didn’t really bother to do much else. Those wheels are anyway in ABT’s inventory so the only real treatment was the special ECU system.

Of course, a new aero pack is in the making and with it, we reckon, ABT will bring out more power from the Q8, preferably the gas-powered model. We shall wait and see how ludicrous the next ABT-tuned Q8 will be.


2019 Audi Q8 Exterior
- image 782213

Read our full review on the 2019 Audi Q8.

The Audi Q8 Sport Is More Potent and Makes the Q8 e-Tron Easy to Forget High Resolution Exterior
- image 708614

Read our full review on the 2017 Audi Q8 Sport Concept.

2017 Audi Q8 E-tron Concept Exterior Computer Renderings and Photoshop
- image 700403

Read our full review on the 2017 Audi Q8 E-tron Concept.

Michael Fira
Michael Fira
Associate Editor and Motorsport Expert - fira@topspeed.com
Mihai Fira started out writing about long-distance racing like the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans. As the years went by, his area of interest grew wider and wider and he ever branched beyond the usual confines of an automotive writer. However, his heart is still close to anything car-related and he's most at home retelling the story of some long-since-forgotten moment from the history of auto racing. He'll also take time to explain why the cars of the '60s and '70s are more fascinating than anything on the road today.  Read full bio
About the author

Related Articles

2019 Audi SQ8 by ABT Sportsline

What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: