Dyson V8 Animal review: Still a cheap alternative to the Dyson V11

The Dyson V11 Absolute is our favourite wireless vacuum. With a brand new High Torque vacuum head, top-mounted LCD, and improved battery life, the V11 is several iterations more advanced than the V8 Animal reviewed here. It’s very expensive, though, with prices starting from £500, which is where older vacuums like the Dyson V8 Animal come in.

Dyson V8 Animal: What you need to know

The Dyson V8 Animal is the same vacuum cleaner as the V8 Absolute, which Dyson has now stopped selling, and the predecessor to the V10 Cyclone. It isn’t as powerful or as long-lasting as the V10 but it weighs less and still does a great job cleaning.

It also lacks the direct-drive hard floor polishing brush of the V10 Absolute model, but it’s cheaper at £350 and more powerful than the Dyson V7.

It’s light and manoeuvrable, it’s portable and rechargeable and, since it has exactly the same V8 motor that powers the V8 Absolute, it’s powerful enough to dig right down into your carpets and clean just as well as those heavier machines.

Dyson V8 Animal: Price and competition

The main competition for the V8 Animal, which retails for £350, comes from the vacuums in the Dyson Cyclone V10 and Dyson V11 ranges. The Cyclone V10 Animal – the most basic version in the Cyclone range – is £50 more expensive than the V8 Animal at £400. The Absolute model, which includes one extra powered head for use on polished hard floors, wasn’t available from Dyson at the time of writing but is still going on Amazon for a premium price of £465.

Should you be willing to spend even more, the Dyson V11 range starts at £500 for the V11 Animal and also features the V11 Torque Drive (£550) and the V11 Absolute, which is our current favourite cordless vacuum cleaner but will set you back a hefty £600.

For non-Dyson competitors in the same price bracket as the V8 Animal, you may want to consider the Shark Cordless Stick Vacuum (IZ201UK), which retails at £349 and features a removable battery that can be charged in a docking station.

If you’re looking for a more budget option, cheaper offerings are available from Gtech. Gtech has been producing cordless vacuum cleaners since they first became popular, and you can buy its upright-style AirRam K9 for around £185 from Amazon. It’s not as effective nor as flexible as the V8 Animal, though, and neither is its compact sibling, the Gtech Multi (£150).

Dyson V8 Animal: Design and accessories

Dyson targets the V8 Animal at pet owners but there’s no difference between the pet hair pickup capabilities of the V8 Animal compared with that of its predecessor, the Absolute, a vacuum cleaner that Dyson no longer sells. Note that where the Dyson website says “150% more brush bar power”, it’s comparing the V8 Animal with the V6 rather than the V8 Absolute. That’s not to say it isn’t good, though.

Aside from the soft roller brush, the Dyson V8 Animal comes with all the same accessories as the V8. This means you get the wand, the motorised direct-drive head and mini motorised head, a rigid crevice tool and a combination tool with a retractable brush. As of March 2020, you’ll also get what Dyson has coined its Reach Under tool, which, as the name suggests, is used to clean underneath objects like beds and sofas. That’s plenty to get most household cleaning jobs done in a pinch.

Here’s a complete list of the cleaning accessories that come with the Dyson V8 Animal, just for your reference:

  • Motorhead
  • Mini Motorhead
  • Motorised brush bar
  • Combination tool
  • Crevice tool
  • Quick-release mini soft dusting brush
  • Reach Under tool

It lacks the soft direct-drive head of the V8 Absolute, but the regular head is pretty good at cleaning hard floors anyway. The last accessory is the charging station, which I recommend you spend the time wall-mounting. It makes charging the V8 Animal much easier and it doubles as a storage point as well.

Dyson V8 Animal review: Cleaning performance

The nylon brushes and powered design of the V8 Animal’s direct-drive head means it gets deep into the pile of your carpet, while the 425W “digital motor” inside the V8 Absolute has plenty of suction power – 115 air watts to be precise

After months of cleaning the house with my trusty Hetty (Henry’s sister vacuum), I was shocked at just how much more the V8 Animal dug out from the carpet. Straight after cleaning with the Hetty, I used the V8 to clean the same area of carpet and, almost immediately, found the 0.54l capacity bin full of fluff, cat hair and a few longer strands from my daughters’ hair. It’s so effective, in fact, that you’ll need to keep an eye on the roller: it gets quickly wrapped and entangled with fibres, especially if you live in a house like mine.

Fortunately, it’s a doddle to pop out the roller for cleaning – a twist of the coin-slot release plate on the left-hand side of the head and it springs out, ready to be de-gunked.

The Dyson V8 is also effective on other surfaces and in less demanding conditions. You can read the full details of our testing in Nathan’s original review of the V8 Absolute, but my impressions of using it day in, day out are that it’s a fantastic cleaner.

The direct-drive cleaner head performs superbly on carpets and hard floors alike. It collected the cat-litter spill in our quick test with minimal fuss and with only the occasional loose piece flying off waywardly. The direct-drive head is able to push its bristles deep into your carpet, pulling up fine debris lodged deep in the pile.
The direct-drive floor-cleaning head has an articulating ball-joint, so it’s nimble, allowing you to manoeuvre around chair legs and under cupboards quickly and easily. The mini motorised head works well with tough dirt, too.

For more difficult dirt, the Max Power mode switch on the top enables higher suction levels but this will drain the battery very quickly, providing just seven minutes of continuous operation. The switch has been moved from previous models and is now found on the top, making it easier to toggle on and off as needed.

It’s the small size and weight (the main unit is only 2.55kg) that make all the difference with the V8 Animal, though. It’s small and light, and it’s much less of a pain to get out and do a quick spot of vacuuming than most regular upright or hose-type vacuums. The long wand helps you get into awkward spaces such as ceiling corners while the mini direct-drive head makes light work of the bête noire of most vacuum cleaners: stairs.

Once you’ve finished, you just need to pop it back on the wall-mountable docking station to charge and it’ll be ready to go next time around. A full charge gives you 40 minutes of use and 25 minutes with the head. Adjust the power to maximum, though, and as mentioned that falls to around seven minutes. The battery, which is built into the base of the handle, is easily replaced and new ones cost around £50 a throw.

There are some problems with the V8 Animal. The mechanism for emptying the bin is just as irritating as it is on the V8 Absolute. That is to say, it’s simple – just pull the release handle all the way up then yank it at the top of its travel to release – it just doesn’t feel particularly robust, and it doesn’t disable the motor when the bin is open either. I kept turning it on by accident while emptying it.

Having said that, the mechanism for ejecting the dust and detritus does work well. As you pull up on the handle, a rubber squeegee scrapes the rubbish out of the bin so it drops neatly out when the door opens. No more shaking to make sure everything’s been removed here.

Dyson V8 Animal review: Verdict

My verdict on the V8 Animal is much the same as the one my colleague, Nathan, reached on the Absolute. It’s brilliant, combining the thorough carpet-cleaning power of a regular upright vacuum cleaner with the flexibility of a handheld cordless cleaner.

My only issue with it is that, as with all Dysons, it’s expensive and build quality in places feels a little too plasticky for my liking, particularly the bin-release handle. Plus, now that there are both the Dyson Cyclone V10 and V11 on the market, it’s no longer the best of the best. Still, it is a cheaper option, which makes that bitter pill a little easier to swallow.

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