THE Audi Q8 concept has been unveiled at the Detroit Motor Show, hinting at a smart-looking, hybrid engined fastback SUV that will one day challenge the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe and BMW X6.
The Audi Q7-based concept is likely to spin into a production model expected in 2018. The 5020mm long Toyota Prado-sized Bombay blue luxury cruiser includes a striking exterior with bold octagonal grille and sloping roofline; a “luxury lounge” cabin for four people, virtual cockpit technology and a plug-in hybrid system producing 330kW/700Nm.
Its e-Tron hybrid powertrain pairs a 245Kw/500Nm 3.0-litre TFSI petrol engine with a 100kW/330Nm electric motor that powers all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. It’s enough to send the giant SUV from 0-100km/h in 5.4sec – that’s the same time as the just-unveiled Audi SQ5, and makes it faster than a hybrid-engined Porsche Cayenne – on its way to a top speed of 250km/h.
Twenty-inch ceramic brake discs wrapped in Y-spoked 23-inch rims help bring it to a halt.
A combined fuel economy of 2.3L/100km – it’s more than a litre per 100km more fuel efficient than a Toyota Prius – gives it a hybrid range of 1000km, while the 17.9kWh lithium ion battery hidden under the boot floor provides an all-electric range of up to 60km.
The Q8 Concept’s 3000mm wheelbase means its footprint is more stretched than a Range Rover’s, but a relatively low 1700mm roofline and high wheel arches give it a taut appearance belying its considerable size.
All lines on the body, including the shoulders and sill, climb upward toward the rear. The flat and wide C-pillar is reminiscent of the Audi Ur-quattro from the 1980s and emphasis on the front and rear wheel arches hints at the Group B rally cars.
Adding to the sleek exterior is the lack of door handles, replaced with touch sensors that automatically open the doors to a defined angle.
Inside, the four-seat interior features Nappa and Nabuk leather and a yacht-like centre console enhanced with a large shift-by-wire gearstick. Central control and display surfaces are integrated into a so-called “black panel” that merges the interior with the display.
Information and commands are passed primarily through touch displays augmented by the Audi virtual cockpit and a head-up display, while the 12.3-inch LCD screen has plenty of space for maps and additional information. All other monitors in the Audi Q8 concept are touch displays.
While the Audi Q8 Concept isn’t exactly about practicality, Audi is keen to point out that boot space is 650 litres – that’s more than the BMW X6 and the same as Merc’s GLE Coupe.
Expect a toned-down version of the Audi Q8 Concept when the German carmaker reveals the production version already spotted wearing camouflage.
The 2018 Q8 is expected to come with the same e-tron hybrid drive system as the Q7, with a 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine producing more than 200kW assisted by a 94kW electric motor.
Other engine options include the SQ7’s 325kW 4.0-litre V8 for a high-performance SQ8-badged spin-off.
It is expected to cost around the same as its Mercedes GLE Coupe and BMW X6 rivals, with an entry price of about $100,000.