Audi’s All-Electric Q8 e-tron Dreams of Racing in the Dakar

Jackson Wheeler
6 Min Read


  • Audi will offer a Q8 e-tron edition Dakar, featuring all-terrain tires and some other equipment, in a tribute to its electric Dakar Rally efforts.
  • The special edition is meant for “light off-road terrain,” and buyers will also get a second set of summer tires.
  • The beefier tires will deplete range notably for buyers in Europe, where this special edition will be offered, but the launch times will be almost identical.

Audi has no shortage of electric SUVs in its lineup at the moment, but we’re not sure just how many owners would feel comfortable taking them really far off-road, especially on street tires. The same could be said for a number of other EVs produced by European luxury brands, many of which value lower ride height for aerodynamic reasons.

The Ingolstadt-based automaker plans to offer something a little different to buyers of the Audi Q8 e-tron edition Dakar, revealing a special version of the SUV slightly more optimized for off-road driving, fit for what Audi calls “light off-road terrain.”

Inspired by Audi’s range-extended electric effort in the Dakar Rally, the Q8 e-tron will wear General Grabber AT3 all-terrain tires suitable for year-round use, giving its ride height a 1.2-inch boost for a total clearance of 8.1 inches.

This will be enough to give the Q8 e-tron edition Dakar a 20-degree approach angle and a 26-degree departure. Buyers will also get a second set of summer tires on 20-inch rims.

dynamic photo,colour mythos black metallic, specific edition dakar wrapping

The Q8 e-tron edition Dakar will be slightly more off-road friendly, thanks to a higher ride height, but it’s a long way from competing in the actual rally.

Audi

More than just fitting fatter tires to a Q8 e-tron, Audi has also tweaked the air suspension settings for automatic lowering at different highway speeds.

At speed, the beefier tires won’t alter the launch time of the Q8 e-tron all that much, with the edition Dakar taking 5.9 seconds to reach 62 mph from a standstill compared to 5.8 seconds in the stock Q8 e-tron.

But one price to pay for these off-road upgrades (besides the $131,000 price of this vehicle in Europe), will be a significant drop in range from 362 miles to 303 miles, at least in the WLTP cycle used across the Atlantic. These numbers might come as a surprise to US owners of the Q8 e-tron, we might add, where the model is only rated at 285 miles in the EPA cycle. But potato/potahto.

While the off-road upgrades appear to be on the mild side, as far as these things go, the appearance tweaks will buy the owners some street cred and will include a standard roof rack with an 88-pound weight capacity; a decal package inspired by the actual Dakar prototype that will be available on examples optioned in Mythos Black metallic; and S line goodies for the interior including stainless-steel pedals and sport seats trimmed in artificial leather and Dinamica microfiber.

A multifunction sport leather steering wheel will be standard as well, while the Audi Sport stitching package in red will be optional.

dynamic photo,colour mythos black metallic, specific edition dakar wrapping

Unlike Audi’s actual Dakar Rally prototype, the Q8 e-tron only relies on its battery.

Audi

This Q8 e-tron might not get buyers into the Dakar rally, but it will get them into Dakar, Senegal’s charging stations. They just have to get to the capital of Senegal first.

Sadly, the Q8 e-tron edition Dakar won’t be available stateside. But items like fatter tires and a roof rack are certainly available to be purchased separately as part of a build that could well exceed the capabilities of what Audi plans to offer with its official version.

With the oldest examples of the e-tron now half a decade old, it might be time to peruse the listings for starting points for such a project.

Will there be more demand for off-road capable EVs in coming years, or will electric SUVs remain urban and suburban luxury chariots? Let us know your thoughts.

Headshot of Jay Ramey

Jay Ramey grew up around very strange European cars, and instead of seeking out something reliable and comfortable for his own personal use he has been drawn to the more adventurous side of the dependability spectrum. Despite being followed around by French cars for the past decade, he has somehow been able to avoid Citroën ownership, judging them too commonplace, and is currently looking at cars from the former Czechoslovakia. Jay has been with Autoweek since 2013. 

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Jackson Wheeler is a skilled editor at Speedofdaily.com, specializing in automotive content. With a background in Journalism and Automotive Engineering, he combines his passion for cars with his writing expertise to deliver captivating articles. Jackson's deep knowledge of automotive technology and his racing experience make him a valuable asset to the team, providing readers with informative and engaging content.
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