Audi Q8 e-tron edition Dakar comes with eight wheels and off-road ability

More spare wheels than they carry on the actual Dakar Rally

Just days before the 2024 Dakar Rally starts in Saudi Arabia, Audi has taken the covers off a special version of its electric SUV inspired by the classic adventure race through the desert: the Q8 e-tron edition Dakar.

Unlike the RS Q e-tron racing prototype that will take part in that event (pictured at the bottom of the page), the new Audi Q8 e-tron edition Dakar will be available for customers to buy. British buyers might have to rely on Euro imports, though, as only in left-hand-drive production versions have been confirmed for the time being.

Looks race ready

A set of special off-road tyres sets the tone for the edition Dakar. They’re robust General Grabber AT3 items fitted to modest black 18in alloy wheels.

Audi Q8 e-tron edition Dakar

The wheelarch extensions have been widened to accommodate these, giving the Dakar derivative more presence over the regular Q8 e-tron, while the modified air suspension allows for a 65mm increase in the ride height.

That in turn ups the ground clearance to enable the electric SUV tackle more undulating terrain than is possible in the standard car. Audi also quotes a 300mm wading depth, which isn’t anywhere approaching Range Rover territory (900mm) but highlights the fact that sand was more of a consideration than water when designing the edition Dakar.

A chunky roof rack enhances the rough and ready image and Audi includes a bespoke bag and straps for storing whatever adventure gear you can’t fit into the boot.

Audi Q8 e-tron edition Dakar

The car will also come with an optional limited-edition decal kit, as pictured here. Only 99 cars will be available with this livery, paying homage to the Audi RS Q e-tron Dakar racer.

Other customer cars will be painted either Mythos Black metallic, Magnetic Grey or Siam Beige metallic, using that colour on the “grille” up front, surrounded by black detailing and topped by an LED light strip.

Fully kitted cabin

Audi Q8 e-tron edition Dakar

Inside, the edition Dakar looks more conventional, using the S line specification as a starting point. That includes tasteful bucket seats and a round three-spoke steering wheel, while the dark colour scheme is lifted by red stitching and detailing.

There are bespoke Dakar-inspired backgrounds to choose from in the infotainment, hard-wearing rubber mats on the floor — and in the boot — and a new display option for the central touchscreen to show the tilt angles achieved. The words “edition Dakar” are projected onto the ground when the front doors are opened, too.

Electric off-roading — with eight wheels

The edition Dakar takes the Q8 e-tron 55 powertrain as its basis and the electrics are unchanged. Electric motors front and rear produce up to 402bhp and 490lb ft of torque allowing a 0-62mph time of 5.9 seconds and a top speed of 124mph (0.3 seconds slower accelerating than the road-biased Q8 e-tron Sport 55, but with an identical top speed).

Audi Q8 e-tron edition Dakar

Under the cabin is the same lithium-ion battery pack of 106kWh usable capacity. Officially, the range for this model is 280 miles, as opposed to a maximum of 333 miles in the regular car, with the off-road tyres and raided ride height hampering efficiency.

Unusually, Audi is delivering every example of the edition Dakar with a second set of wheels and tyres. The alloy rims are 20in in diameter and are shod in conventional summer tyres for owners that wish to reduce road noise and increase the driving range between charges. With these fitted, the range is said to increase to 310 miles.

As in the standard car, the air suspension automatically reduces the ride height as speeds increase in a bid to reduce aerodynamic drag and energy consumption. The highest ground clearance is only achieved when the driver selects the offroad driving setting.

Audi’s RS Q e-tron is a different beast

Though the Q8 e-tron shares part of its name and appearance with the Audi RS Q e-tron racer, there’s very little else that connects the two.

The vehicle that will tackle the 2024 Dakar Rally is a bespoke prototype using electric motors front and rear from Formula E, and an onboard electricity generator in the form of a turbocharged 2-litre petrol engine.

The arduous event starts on January 5 and runs until January 19.

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