SEE | Velar, X6, GLE Coupé - These are Audi's high-performance SQ8 rivals

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• Audi's new SQ7 and SQ8 are now available in South Africa.

• The SQ8 comes up against the Range Rover Velar, Mercedes GLE Coupé, and BMW X6.

• The SQ8 is priced from R1.8 million.

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Audi's new SQ7 and SQ8 debuted in South Africa recently. A twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 engine powers both SUVs, it produces 310kW and 900Nm of torque, and helps both SUVs sprint from 0-100km/h in under five seconds. These are staggering figures, but none more so than the fact that these SUVs are likely to be rewarding to drive.

Between the two, the SQ8 is more of a looker with its sleek design, (optional) 23-inch wheels, and lowered ride height. It enhances the SUV's appeal and seems a perfect fit at the top of the Q8 lineup. And at R1 848 500 for this top model, it seems a real bargain for the package the SQ8 is endowed with.

The other models in the Q8 line-up are the Q8 55 TFSI (R1 517 500) and Q8 45 TDI (R1 573 500). Both models are fitted with Audi's famed Quattro all-wheel drive system.

READ: Pricing and spec for Audi's 900Nm V8-powered, high-performance SQ7 and SQ8 in SA

Audi SQ8
2021 Audi SQ8

SQ8 rivals

Audi's always been known for pricing its vehicles in the sweet spot, and the SQ8 is no different. The vehicle's standard equipment can rival anything in its segment, and the power output and performance, at the price, will put almost anything to shame.

Range Rover offers an SQ8 rival in the form of its Velar D300 R-Dynamic HSE. At R1 643 144, it offers brisk performance without foregoing the luxuries and tech the brand has become known for. The 3.0-litre V6 diesel offers a modest 221kW, but thanks to turbocharging, the torque of 650Nm is available from as low as 1500rpm. The Velar might not match the SQ8 in terms of performance, but it has one of the most beautiful designs of all the SUVs on sale in South Africa today.

The Mercedes-Benz GLE 400d Coupé 4Matic AMG Line has an asking price of R1 827 800. And in typical Mercedes-Benz fashion, it carries the very best of the Three-Pointed star. The GLE 400d is powered by a turbocharged 2.9-litre inline six-cylinder engine that produces 243kW and 700Nm. This engine does duty in several of Merc's products, including the G-Class, and has proven to be a hit among customers. Coupled with Merc's 4Matic all-wheel drive system, the car will reach 100km/h from standstill in 5.7sec. While the GLE 400d is fitted with a raft of standard features, it is still overshadowed by the SQ8's specification.

A highlight on the BMW X6 M50d is not the fact that the 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder diesel engine produces 294kW and 760Nm, but that the engine is fitted with four(!) turbochargers. Coupled with the sleek design and the classic BMW driving traits, the X6 M50d comes closest to the SQ8's sprint time (5.2sec) and will also reach an electronically limited top speed of 250km/h. Standard specification is rich, but it seems dear when you factor in the starting price of R1 944 548. Despite the price, this specific model's appeal suddenly increases given BMW's announcement that it will soon discontinue its quad-turbo engine.

Audi SQ8
2021 Audi SQ8
Range Rover Velar
2021 Range Rover Velar D300 R-Dynamic HSE
Mercedes-Benz GLE
2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE 400d Coupé 4Matic AMG Line
2021 BMW X6 M50d
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