If torque’s your game, this tuning kit should be right down your alley

The Audi SQ8 isn’t the most violent version of Audi’s Q8 SUV lineup. That spot is reserved for the RS Q8. But the SQ8 TDI is potent enough in its own way, and when you get the involvement of noted Audi tuner ABT Sportsline, the result is a face-mashing performance SUV that produces enough torque to make the range-topping RS Q8 feel redundant. The German tuner’s new program for the SQ8 SUV is a masterclass in the art of tuning upgrades. It comes with subtle but important exterior and interior upgrades that complement the power and performance gains that also come with the whole package. The tuning kit is specced specifically for the SQ8 TDI so if that’s your thing, you shouldn’t miss out on this program. If you prefer the gas-powered version that lacks the low revs and fake exhausts, you might as well just wait for the Audi RS Q8 to arrive towards the end of the year. Either way, it’s a can’t-lose proposition.

  • 2019 Audi SQ8 by ABT Sportsline
  • Year:
    2019
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V8
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    520
  • Torque @ RPM:
    715
  • Displacement:
    4.0 L
  • 0-60 time:
    4.45 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    155 mph
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • size:
  • Purpose:
  • body style:

Exterior

  • New front spoiler
  • Air intake covers
  • New rear wing
  • 22- or 23-inch wheels in two colors and three different syles

ABT Sportsline’s exterior update program for the Audi SQ8 comes in the form of a bold wheels upgrade and a subtle aerodynamic body kit that doesn’t look so subtle when they’re all in place in the SUV. Two main sections of the SQ8 benefit from ABT Sportsline’s aero upgrades. The first is the SUV’s front section. The new front spoiler is the obvious addition. The SQ8’s underbody protection was removed to accommodate the spoiler and the visual results are significant.

The SQ8 looks more aggressive, especially when you throw in the all-black treatment that the German tuner went for.

The grilles and the chrome panel surrounding the grilles are all dressed in black. It creates a stealthy look that enhances the SQ8’s front profile. Less conspicuous but no less significant are the air intake covers that ABT Sportsline also installed in the SQ8.

Over at the back is where the other significant addition to the SUV’s aerodynamics can be found. The new rear spoiler is partly hidden by the factory roof spoiler of the SQ8, but if you look close enough, you’ll be able to see it. The setup is intriguing, but it does provide the kind of downforce aid that the SQ8 needs now that it has more power and torque at its disposal.

2019 Audi SQ8 by ABT Sportsline
- image 868925

There are two wheel sizes available for the Audi SQ8.

If you want to go all-out and get the bigger set of 23-inch wheels, you can opt to do so and choose from a wide range of options, including the HR Aero wheels, HR-F wheels, and the GR wheels.

Each style comes in two different colors: black and polished silver. Should you want to look more subdued in the wheels that you buy, the slightly smaller set of 22-inch wheels should satisfy your needs. They come with the same color options and the same designs as the 23s. It doesn’t really matter which size you choose, really. Both sets are equally attractive, in part because of how their respective sizes are right at home under the SQ8’s huge guards.

2019 Audi SQ8 by ABT Sportsline
- image 868924

The exterior updates won’t blow you away with their audacity. But they are effective in creating a more aggressive-looking SQ8 that benefits from all the aerodynamic improvements these updates provide.

Interior

  • Leather and Alcantara options
  • Carbon fiber trim options
  • Manual options and stitching are available
  • Technical upgrades like aluminum pedals and illuminated side sills
2019 Audi SQ8 by ABT Sportsline
- image 868932

ABT Sportsline’s configurator for the Audi SQ8 counts the start-stop switch cap as the only “standard” upgrade available to the interior of the high-performance SUV. You can choose to settle for that or you can exercise ABT’s “Individual Interior” program. This is where it gets fun.

One of the more obvious choices you’ll be given is the opportunity to dress up the interior of your SQ8 in either premium leather and Alcantara.

The German tuner can acquiesce to your demands in this regard because of the treasure trove of materials it has at its disposal. You can even customize the color of the leather you want, but let’s face it, black is the color-of-choice here. Choose that and opt for a colorful contrast stitching — red, orange, or blue works best — and you suddenly have an interior that’s dripping in style and panache.

2019 Audi SQ8 by ABT Sportsline
- image 868935

If you want to complement all the leather and Alcantara that you’re getting with more premium material goodness, you can score fancy bits of carbon fiber and spread them throughout the cabin of the SUV. You can wrap the SQ8’s sports steering wheel in carbon fiber and retrofit the center stack with the same material. You can also use carbon fiber on the door trims and dashboard of the SUV.

On the technical side, ABT Sportsline is also offering a variety of upgrades.

The pedals, for example, can get the aluminum treatment while the door sills can get a similar light-up style.

All that and we still haven’t gotten to the point of specific personalization. If you arrive at this point, it comes with the understanding that the level of personalization that you desire for the interior of your SQ8 is commensurate to the flexibility of your budget. You can go all-out and really dress up the interior to the specifics of your desires — this option costs a lot — or you can opt to pick and choose elements that you want and keep the rest in stock form.

2019 Audi SQ8 by ABT Sportsline
- image 868934

Either way, ABT Sportsline can accommodate your heart’s desire provided that your bank accounts can do the same.

Drivetrain

  • ABT Sportsline Power Software kit
  • ECU update yields 520 horsepower and 715 pound-feet of torque
  • Electrically-powered turbo compressor unlocks all the torque
  • 4.45 seconds from 0 to 62 mph
  • Top speed still 155 mph
  • Suspension lowering kit available
2019 Audi SQ8 by ABT Sportsline
- image 868931

Sitting at the heart of ABT Sportsline’s engine upgrade program is a rather straightforward ECU software update. The contents of the kit also include a bracket set, cable harness, and a mounting kit. If you’re familiar with software upgrades, the ABT Sportsline Power Software kit’s plug-and-play nature should make it easy for the SQ8’s 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 diesel engine to benefit from the tuner’s promised power gains of 520 horsepower and a stomach-churning 715 pound-feet of torque.

Those numbers represent an extra 85 horsepower and 51 pound-feet of torque over the standard car

The horsepower increase is significant and appreciated for that very nature. But the increased torque is where it’s at, especially for an SUV that weighs more than 4,800 pounds. Throw in the average weight of a driver — around 150 to 200 pounds — and a gas tank full of fuel and you’re looking at an SUV that tips the scales at well over 5,000 pounds. The tuner took all of that into consideration. In fact, to deliver the full torque experience from a low rpm figure — and justify the “S” in the SQ8’s name — ABT Sportsline is also including an electric-powered turbo compressor that allows all 715 pound-feet of torque to be available at 1,250 rpm. That kind of capability can twist metals, folks. That’s a big reason this ABT Sportsline program for the SQ8 is no joke.

2019 Audi SQ8 by ABT Sportsline
- image 868938

The tuner didn’t announce details in the way of the tuned-up SQ8’s performance capabilities. Fortunately, Auditography managed to have a go at the ABT-tuned Audi SQ8 and performance an acceleration test of the souped-up SUV with launch control.

The results are impressive, to say the least. It only took 4.45 seconds for the SUV to sprint from 0 to 62 mph.

That’s 0.3 seconds quicker than the standard SQ8. Top speed remained at 155 mph, but given the purpose of the SQ8, that’s far from the most important aspect of this tuning program. It’d be nice to have that limiter removed, for sure, but it won’t be the end of the world if it remains in place.

The other important upgrade in this section is the suspension lowering kit that ABT Sportsline created for the SQ8. The tuner says that this modification can only be made at its headquarters in Germany, but the benefits of doing so are significant. Depending on the option you choose — ABT is offering Comfort level and Dynamic level suspension lowering — you can lower the ride height of the SQ8 by 15 to 25 mm (0.59 inches to 0.98 inches). These may sound like insignificant figures, but rest assured, they’re important enough for ABT Sportsline to offer the modifications.

Pricing

2019 Audi SQ8 by ABT Sportsline
- image 868940

ABT Sportsline is notorious for keeping pricing information under wraps. It’s the same story here. We tried to get an idea of how much the “basic” program costs without all the personalized upgrades, but the tuner’s configurator required details and information that we weren’t prepared to give. So, we will instead assume that the basic tuning program for the SQ8 SUV comes to around $20,000 to $25,000. That, of course, doesn’t include the price of the SQ8, which sells for £85,000 or $108,000 at the current exchange rates.

Supposing you choose the full scope of upgrades that are available to the SUV — this includes the personalized interior — you could be looking at a cost that comes up to around $35,000 to $40,000. It’s a steep price, for sure. But if you really want the complete ABT Sportsline experience for your Audi SQ8, there should be no price that you’re not willing to pay.

That comes with the territory of buying a tuning kit from one of the most renowned Audi tuners in the business.

Final Thoughts

2019 Audi SQ8 by ABT Sportsline
- image 868929

For all of what it is, the ABT Sportsline-tuned Audi SQ8 is an impressive specimen of an SUV. It looks impressive in ways the standard SQ8 can’t approach, and depending on the kind of personalization levels you want out of the interior, it can look any way you want it to look. Combine that with an impressive engine upgrade program, and it’s easy to see why the ABT-tuned SQ8 qualifies as a monster on four wheels with the insane amounts of torque it’s capable of unleashing.

The only downside to the whole program is the cost that comes with it. Are you prepared to spend anywhere from $120,000 to $140,000 for a souped-up, high-performance diesel SUV or are you better off waiting for the gas-powered Audi RS Q8 to arrive later this year? I’m inclined to choose the ABT-tuned SQ8 because it’s already accessible, but I do reserve the right to change my mind once the RS Q8 makes its debut. For now, though, it’s hard to find a better tuning program for the SQ8 TDI than the one ABT Sportsline is dangling in front of us.

  • Leave it
    • Diesel engines aren’t for everyone
    • Certain elements of the program are hard to access
    • Could be pricey

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