Audi previews new Q8 SUV for 2018

Sporty crossover to hit showrooms next year with a plug-in hybrid to go a step ahead of the BMW X6 and Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe.

That’s a chunky-looking SUV…

Welcome to Audi’s new flagship SUV, the Q8 which is being shown at this week’s Detroit motor show before hitting showrooms next year.

Seen here as a thinly disguised concept car, the Q8 is largely based on the current Q7 and will go into direct contention with the BMW X6 and Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe.

Key design features include an octagonal front grille rather than the hexagonal version seen in many Audis today, large air vents up front, horizontal rear lights and flared fenders in the tradition of the famous Quattro sports car of yore.

The Q8 measures 5m in overall length and has a 3m-long wheelbase to ensure plenty of passenger and cargo space. Unlike the seven-seat Q7, the Q8 is being shown as a four-seater. A rear bench that can take three people in the production-ready article hasn’t been confirmed by Audi yet.

It has a very futuristic interior…

Concept cars are always designed to look futuristic, but Audi stresses that many elements will be making it to production.

Audi’s existing Virtual Cockpit theme can be seen in the Q8, but the 12.3-inch TFT display has been enhanced further with 3D appearance. There are touchscreen controls for both the front and rear occupants.

What kind of power will the Q8 be getting?

The single drivetrain option Audi has announced so far is a plug-in hybrid, something not yet seen in the X6 and GLE Coupe even if the X5 and regular GLE already feature it.

The Q8’s hybrid include a 3.0-litre V6 petrol-turbo engine, eight-speed automatic and electric motor, whose juice is fed by rear-mounted lithium-ion batteries. Combined outputs come to 450hp and 700Nm.

With this setup, Audi says the Q8 can accelerate from 0-100kph in 5.4sec. Meanwhile, the pure EV range is rated at 60km and the charging time for the batteries is two-and-a-half hours.

Handling all this power are carbon-ceramic disc brakes fitted within the huge 23-inch wheels.

Will there be any other options?

It’s almost a certainty that the Q8 will come with other engines to cover different price points. Cheaper models could probably come with six-pot diesel motors because that’s how the X6 and GLE Coupe are getting real sales in the six million baht range in Thailand.

And to boost image and satisfy performance-hungry buyers, there’s a chance that an RS version with some 600hp could eventually come on stream to match the X6 M, for one.

Although full-size SUVs with sporty profiles aren’t large in numbers yet, three other brands are reportedly considering joining the fray. They include the Range Rover Sport, Porsche Cayenne and, if at a higher price strata, Bentley Bentayga.

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