Audi isn’t about to lose the SUV game — especially when it’s currently dominated by fellow German rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz, and so has launched the Q8. And while it’s only a concept now, we can’t help but feel a slight tingle of excitement (despite having to make do with renderings) because it’s clearly Audi’s greatest design evolution to date.
And you can thank Audi’s design boss Marc Lichte for its bold new look. The first thing that’ll make you gape is the new grille, bookmarked by distinctive trapezoidal-shaped headlamps that run on the brand’s matrix laser technology, which is essentially like LEDs on steroids. Look closely however, and you’ll realise the Q8 is more familiar than you think it is. Dimensionally, it’s a Q7 that’s chopped up. Compared to the three-row crossover, the Q8’s wheelbase, length and height are 0.3-inch, 1.6-inches and 1.3-inches shorter respectively.
At its back, its broader hips triumphs with an additional 2.9-inches to accommodate a very futuristic full-length taillight design. Exaggerated flared fenders at its wheels hint at the original Audi Quattro from the ‘80s, as with the wide raked C-pillar.
Fresh off the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) 2017, the plug-in hybrid will be propelled by a fairly powerful 333hp turbocharged 3.0-litre V6, in addition to a 134hp motor integrated within. In total, this will give you 443hp and 700Nm of torque, and figures such as 5.4 seconds for acceleration to 100kph and a top speed of 250kph. For days when you feel more responsible, the all-electric driving mode will give you 60km of range via a rear-mounted lithium-ion battery pack. Charging will only take an efficient two and a half hours.
Within sits luxury that’s only expected of Audi; the four-seater cabin is comfortably spaced, despite a slightly lower and more sloping roofline. If it isn’t a screen or decorative metal part, it will be covered in leather, and a control pad at the center console armrest controls cabin climate conveniently. Audi’s intelligent virtual cockpit will also be at your service.
With a looming production date of 2018, it’s only a matter of time before the low-slung coupe SUV makes its way into showrooms and roads. Rumours of more powertrain options have been making its rounds, so you might see V8 or even an RS Q8 twin-turbocharged model in production eventually.