The coupe-style SUV market just got more interesting

Audi just extended its SUV lineup to include the Q8, essentially a sportier proposition to the utilitarian, wagon-like Q7. The new crossover marks Audi’s entry in the coupe-style market, a playground dominated by the BMW X6 since 2007. The segment also includes the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe and the boxier Range Rover Sport.

With a new player on the market, it’s natural to ask yourselves which one is better. We’re here to answer this question by comparing the Audi Q8 against the BMW X6 and the Range Rover Sport. We left the GLE Coupe out of the game simply because it’s based on a model that was launched all the way back in 2011 and a new-generation model is just around the corner.

Continue reading for the full story.

Exterior Design

2019 Audi Q8 Exterior
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The Q8 is the much newer vehicle and thus it sports the fresher design

A three-way comparison is somewhat unusual in this case, despite the fact that the SUVs compete in the same segment. For starters, the Q8 is the much newer vehicle, and thus it sports the fresher design. Second, even if we ignore the age of each vehicle, they’re pretty different. While the X6 is an authentic coupe SUV with a rounded roofline, the Q8 is boxier, while the Range Rover Sport is a significant departure from the coupe-style SUV concept. But at the end of the day, it’s a matter of taste, so looking at the three side by side isn’t a bad idea.

As noted above, the Q8 is the newest of the bunch, having been unveiled in June 2018. By comparison, the second-generation X6 is almost four years old as of 2018. The Range Rover Sport is even older than that, with its production cycle going back to 2013.

2019 Audi Q8 Exterior
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The Q8 is a unique design in Audi's SUV lineup, which is both surprising and a good thing

The Q8 is a unique design in Audi’s SUV lineup, which is both surprising and a good thing. Making things that much better is the fact that Audi went with an aggressive front end and a rear fascia inspired by the Quattro Sport of the 1980s. The big front grille with the thick frame and the slim headlamps make the Q8 unusually aggressive for an SUV. The muscular fenders help too, while the horizontal lines on the rear end give it a wide stance. The Q8 is arguably the sexiest, more aggressive SUV after the supercar-inspired Lamborghini Urus. That’s a big thing to consider.

Unlike the Q8, which is aesthetically pleasing from just about every angle, the X6 is more of the "love it or hate it" variety. While some dig the "X5 with a coupe roofline design," others see the hunchback of Notre Dame in the vehicle’s overall shape. The X6 is definitely appealing to fans of the German brand, but it’s not exactly convincing to drivers who are considering a few more options. What’s more, with a brand-new X5 launched in 2018, the current X6 is beginning to look a bit dated.

2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport
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While it definitely fits in this niche, the Range Rover Sport isn't a coupe-style SUV

While it definitely fits in this niche, the Range Rover Sport isn’t a coupe-style SUV. The British hauler is nearly as boxy as its bigger Range Rover sibling, and it feels massive despite being smaller in size. Sure, the rear window has a nice, sporty slope, but the Range Rover Sport is not among the first SUVs you think about when talking about coupe crossovers. On the other hand, it’s the more elegant choice if that’s what you’re into. Just like the X6 though, it needs a redesign, as the most recent facelift from 2016 didn’t bring significant updates on the outside.

Interior Design and Technology

2019 Audi Q8 Interior
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The brand-new Q8 feels more modern inside the cabin

A comparison of interior designs is again heavily influenced by the age of three vehicles. The brand-new Q8 feels more modern inside the cabin, mostly because the usual center stack clutter of buttons and knobs is no longer an issue thanks to Audi using two big screens. With the 10-inch infotainment and 8.6-inch A/C displays in the center stack having taken over almost all controls, the center console is impressively clean, even for a vehicle launched in 2018. The Q8 also gets a cool, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, while the BMW X6 still uses analog clocks.

The dash, the door panels, and the trim elements look as crisp as they get, further setting the Audi apart from the competition. The SUV is fitted with leather upholstery as standard, as well as Wi-Fi hotspot and navigation. The heated seats and the massage function are optional though.

2015 BMW X6 High Resolution Interior
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Although a few years old, the X6 doesn't look as dated as one might expect

Although a few years old, the X6 doesn’t look as dated as one might expect. On the other hand, the button-packed center stack and the "floating" infotainment display are no longer a trend. The good news is that the screen is pretty big given the age of the X6, measuring 10.2 inches, slightly bigger than the Q8’s. Luxury isn’t an issue inside the X6, as it’s equipped with leather seats, a leather steering wheel, navigation, and cruise control as standard.

The Range Rover Sport is the oldest of the bunch, but it’s the SUV that has the most upscale looking interior. It might be the British design or the two-tone color combinations, but it’s definitely a nice and luxurious place to spend time. The center dash is occupied by a large, 10.2-inch infotainment display, while the A/C system is operated by fewer knobs and buttons compared to the BMW X6. Just like its competitors, the Range Rover Sport comes standard with leather upholstery, navigation, and cruise control.

2019 Audi Q8 Interior
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All three SUVs offer good legroom for rear seat passengers

As an extra feature, it’s equipped with the Advanced Tow Assist system, which is similar to the Ford F-150’s Pro Trailer Backup Assist feature. When activated, the system uses the Terrain Response knob to control steering while the driver watches the 360-degree camera system and rearview mirrors as the trailer is backed up. This feature eliminates the counter-intuitive steering needed to back a trailer. Granted, you probably won’t use a Range Rover Sport to tow a trailer too often, but it’s a cool feature to have.

Moving over to rear seat comfort, Audi brags that the Q8 offers segment-leading legroom and headroom. While this may be true when it comes to numbers, the truth is that all three SUVs offer good legroom for rear seat passengers. Granted, none is as comfortable as a full-size SUV, but there’s just enough space to stretch your legs a bit and travel in comfort for many hours. Things aren’t as balanced when it comes to rear-seat headroom though. While the Audi Q8 and (especially) the Range Rover Sport are nearly as spacious as the bigger SUVs, the BMW X6 is rather uncomfortable for adults due to the sloping roofline.

As far as trunk space goes, the Q8 offers up to 62 cubic feet with the rear seats folded flat. The X6, however, can swallow only 53.8 cubic feet of luggage, almost eight cubic-feet less than the Q8. The Range Rover Sport wins the battle marginally by being able to accept 62.2 cubic feet of luggage.

Drivetrain and Performance

2019 Audi Q8 Exterior
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Unlike the competition, the Q8 can be purchased with a four-wheel steering system for increased agility at higher speeds

A comprehensive here is not yet possible because Audi has yet to release full drivetrain information. However, word has it the Q8 will borrow its engines from the Q7, so it should come to the U.S. with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder and a 3.0-liter V-6. The turbocharged four-banger will crank out 252 horsepower and 272 pound-feet of torque, while the supercharged V-6 will generate 333 horses and 325 pound-feet. The gasoline units will be joined by a hybrid e-Tron version pairing a 3.0-liter diesel and an electric motor built into an eight-speed automatic transmission with a total output of 373 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque.

Unlike the competition, the Q8 can be purchased with a four-wheel steering system for increased agility at higher speeds. It also comes standard with all-wheel drive. With a ground clearance of up to 10 inches, the Q8 is more than a city SUV and it can handle some rough terrain.

2015 BMW X6 High Resolution Exterior
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The range-topping X6 gets its juice from a 4.4-liter V-8 that generates 444 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of twist

The X6 is being sold in the U.S. in three versions. The base model is the sDrive35i, a rear-wheel drive SUV that uses a 3.0-liter inline-six engine rated at 302 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. The same model is available with AWD as the xDrive35i. Output remains identical. More oomph comes from the xDrive50i variant, which gets its juice from a 4.4-liter V-8 that generates 444 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of twist. This model has an all-wheel-drive system as standard.

The latter is obviously the quickest, needing 4.6 seconds to hit 60 mph from a standing start. The six-cylinder models are notably slower at six clicks. A higher performance M version is also available, while other markets also get a selection of diesel models. An eight-speed automatic is used for all drivetrains.

2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport High Resolution Exterior
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Unlike the Q8 and X6, the Range Rover Sport can be had with a diesel engine too

The Range Rover Sport is also offered with a selection of engines, and unlike the Q8 and X6, it can be had with a diesel too. The U.S. range begins with a 3.0-liter V-6 oil burner that develops 254 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. The base gasoline variant also uses a 3.0-liter V-6, but it’s supercharged and cranks out 340 horses and 332 pound-feet of twist.

A more powerful version of this engine sends 380 horses to the wheels. Like BMW, Range Rover also builds high-performance versions of the Sport, with up to 575 horsepower, but a proper comparison is not possible until Audi launches an RS version of the Q8. The gas Range Rover Sport needs 6.8 seconds to hit 60 mph, while the diesel model requires 7.2 seconds for the same benchmark. Needless to say, the British SUV is the slowest of the bunch.

Pricing

2019 Audi Q8 Exterior
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If you’re looking for the most affordable option, then the BMW X6 sDrive35i is the way to go, as the base model retails from $62,950. If you want AWD, the xDrive35i will set you back an additional $2,300 at $65,250. Finally, the range-topping X6 xDrive50i, powered by the big V-8 engine, fetches $77,700 before options.

The Range Rover Sport starts from a higher price point, but it’s worth noting that the base gasoline model is significantly more powerful than the X6. The 340-horsepower version starts from $66,750, while the 380-horsepower variant comes in at a whopping $82,150. If you want the diesel model, pricing starts from $68,750.

Pricing information for the Audi Q8 is not available as of this writing, but the German SUV will cost more than $60,000 in base trim.

Final Thoughts

2019 Audi Q8 Exterior
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Needless to say, the Audi Q8 is the logical choice here. Several years newer than the competition, it features the more appealing and sportier exterior design, the more modern interior, and the better technology. It also offers competitive room inside the cabin and it has one of the largest trunks.

On the other hand, the BMW X6 comes with the most powerful engine in xDrive50i trim and it’s a better choice if you want a sleek, coupe-like roof. Of course, this means that you have to settle for a somewhat dated design inside and out and significantly less luggage room.

The Range Rover Sport is pretty much on par with the Q8 was far as interior design, technology, output, and trunk space go. Its main feats are the extra headroom for rear-seat passengers and the boxier, more elegant design. If you’re not a fan of the angrier designs from Audi and BMW, the Range Rover Sport and its British flair will get the job done.

Further reading

2019 Audi Q8 Exterior
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Read our full detailed review on the 2019 Audi Q8.

2015 BMW X6 High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 BMW X6.

2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport
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Read our full review on the 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport.

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