Next year’s top-of-the-range, luxury, SUV is unveiled in Detroit… Words Davy Lewis. Photography Audi AG. New Q8 – Audi's luxury SUV is unveiled.
This is Audi’s brand new luxury SUV, the Q8. Unveiled at the recent NAIAS show in Detroit, it’s set to take the brand into one of the fastest growing market segments, currently dominated by the likes of the BMW X6 F16 and Range Rover. Demand for luxury SUVs has soured over recent years, prompting Audi to create their own range-topping vehicle. It may be referred to as a concept, but be in no doubt, this will form the basis for the production version set to land in 2018. So what will this uber SUV have to offer?
Well, for starters there’s its size. Although based on the Q7’s underpinnings, the Q8’s dimensions make for sobering reading – it measures 5.02 metres long and 2.04 metres wide, making it significantly larger than a Q7. The wheels on the show vehicle measure a whopping 11x23in and the deeply sculpted diamond-cut spokes are nicely dished to add further muscle. Look behind them and you’ll see some 20in carbon ceramic discs. The Q8 certainly doesn’t look ‘over-wheeled’, but then that’s not surprising. You see Audi’s designers have played a neat trick in making a very large vehicle, look sleek and almost coupe like. The body has a sweeping, roofline, which gives a very sporty impression – an entirely different proposition to the more conventional box-style shape of its sibling, the Q7.
The exterior boasts a very curvaceous, yet muscular shape, dominated by the large grille and aggressive headlights. The wide, octagonal grille features vertical strakes and the Matrix LED headlights blend seamlessly into the sides. Small air intakes feature below the headlights, accompanied by much larger items below.
It looks particularly effective in the bright hue of Bombay blue on the show vehicle. In profile, you’ll notice a distinct lack of door handles. To remove the ‘clutter’ from the design and to add some innovative tech, the doors are opened when they sense a hand near to them. The rear end is very neat and simple, with what appear to be vented rear wings leading to a full wrap around light module, which also incorporates the badge. A sculpted lower valance houses the exhaust and is finished in brushed aluminium to tie in with the lower door trims, and window and grille surrounds. However, the slippery looks do not come at the expense of headroom. The Q8 is said to have plenty of space for even the tallest of passengers, as well as lots of legroom. This was high on the list of essential requirements given to the designers and engineers, as many of these will be likely sold to well heeled individuals with their own drivers. In that respect, the interior architecture had to be some thing very special.
Now, I’m sure you’re aware that Audi are masters of luxurious, high-end interiors, but the Q8 takes this to the next level. The quality of material and the design details appear to be nothing short of breath taking. The interior is awash with the finest blends of Nappa leather, Alcantara, aluminium and carbon fibre. It made me think of a luxury yacht, which may sound bizarre, but then that’s the sort of high-end market Audi is aiming for with the Q8.
The gear selector certainly bears more than a passing resemblance to a yacht’s throttle lever. The dashboard and centre console are dominated by large, touchscreen surfaces. Everything can be controlled with a swipe of the finger, from the exterior lights, to the drive select, navigation – you name it. A contact analogue headup display projects important info onto the windscreen. A further touchscreen is built into the rear centre section to allow back seat passengers to access a myriad of functions, too. The multi-function steering wheel features ‘satellite’ buttons, like the R8 and TT RS, for drive select and stop/start, as well as paddle shifters, all tied up in a very neatly designed leather and aluminium design. Rear passengers get individual seats, in the concept, but the production version is likely to seat five.
Under the bonnet of the Q8 lies a 3.0 TFSI engine, which isn’t a bad start. It makes 333hp and 500Nm, but being an E-tron unit, there’s a also an electric motor that assists things to make 438bhp and over 700Nm, as standard. 0-62mph is claimed to take just 5.4secs with a top speed limited to 155mph – not bad for such a large vehicle. On electric power alone the Q8 can travel 37 miles and the lithium-ion battery can be charged in just two hours. S and possibly RS versions are set to follow and we’d expect the SQ7’s 4.0 V8 twin turbo with electric-powered compressor to feature. There’s no word on pricing, but we’d expect the Q8 to start at around £70,000 when it’s launched next year. It will join the next A8/S8 as the range topping vehicles in Audi’s already impressive line-up.
TECHNICAL DATA SPECIFICATION 2018 Audi Q8 Concept
Engine 3.0 TFSI V6, e-tron 100Kw electric motor
Power 438bhp and 700Nm
Transmission 8-speed tiptronic
Suspension All wheels Air
Brakes 20in carbon ceramic discs
Wheels 11x23 in wheels with 305/35 tyres
Interior Full touchscreen connectivity, individual rear seats, fine Nappa leather, Alcantara, aluminium and carbon fibre, multi-function steering wheel with satellite buttons for drive select and stop/start
Exterior 5-door coupe styling, flush doors (no handles), Matrix LED headlights, LED rear lights with dynamic turn signals, octagonal grille, brushed aluminium detaiing, painted Bombay blue
Price: from £70,000 (estimate)
On sale: USA / UK / EU / in 2018
Above: E-tron engine. Rear features wrap around lighting. Another touchscreen for back seat passengers. Individual seats in the rear.
“The interior is awash with fine materials”