Monday at the Detroit Auto Show, Audi unveiled its new flagship SUV, the Q8 Concept.
The new, large, luxury SUV runs on a plug-in hybrid system and is the basis for a production model that Audi will launch on the market in 2018. It forms part of Audi’s renewed goal to push deeper into the high-end luxury SUV category.
Last year, luxury SUVs made up 54 percent of the car market in the U.S., and Audi’s $40,000 Q5 SUV accounted for more than 25 percent of the brand’s total North American sales.
“The Q8 concept is an Audi in peak form,” said Dietmar Voggenreiter, the member of the board of management for sales and marketing at AUDI AG. “It demonstrates the strengths of our brand in both technology and design while providing a glimpse at a future full-size, production SUV,” he continued, touting its next-gen display and control solutions.
The car uses the same platform as the Q7 SUVs but has only four seats inside instead of seven. It is wider and squarer than the Q7 and the smaller bestselling Q5, with a flat roofline. The equally flared shoulders above the front and rear wheels evoke the Ur-Quattro Audi produced in the 1980s. The rig will compete with such vehicles as the BMW X6 and Porsche Cayenne.
The Q8 will use both a 333hp combustion engine and a 100kW electric motor on an eight-speed transmission and three driving modes. The complete system will get 330kW and be able to hit 62 mph in 5.4 seconds. Top speed is 155 mph.
The lithium-ion battery has an electric range of 37.3 miles, with a total range, including the engine, of 621.4 miles. A full charge to the battery will take less than three hours.
Audi’s Concept also includes progressive driving technologies such as wheel-selective torque control, which allows wheels to brake individually, and adaptive air sport suspension.
Notable Design Changes
The most notable thing about the design of the Q8 is its new octagon-shape grill, bound at the front by a honeycomb design and six bold vertical bars. A distinctive aluminum blade forms the bottom edge of the bumper, and flat, wedge-shaped headlights are integrated into the entire front so they look as though they are connected to the surrounding air inlets. The individual lighting units have glass covers, but the headlights as a whole are open.
Elsewhere, the doors lack a window frame, which means the low flat line of the roof has maximum effect. A strip of lights across the rear of the car makes up Audi’s new “ e-tron light signature” that works both as tail and brake light and as turn indicators.
Inside, the Q8 is designed to make its passengers feel as though they’re in a sailing yacht. A large center tunnel console allows the driver to control the eight-speed transmission electronically by touch. There are also large touchscreens at the front and an updated version of the Audi virtual cockpit, with a head-up display that uses augmented reality to merge real world and virtual cues. The trim includes dark LED lights that emit a soft white light and Nappa and Nubuck leather in pastel silver.
Audi has yet to release pricing on the eventual production version of the Q8, but it will likely cost well more than the $40,900 required to buy the current Q5 or the $49,000 price of the Q7.