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Detroit show: Audi builds Q8 assault

Bomb bay loaded: Audi’s eagerly-awaited Q8 has appeared in concept form, dressed in Bombay Blue and battle-ready when it emerges in production form next year.

Near-production Audi Q8 concept previews first plug-in large SUV coupe


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10 Jan 2017

AUDI has revealed its Q8 concept at the North American International Auto Show, heralding a production version that will take the four rings into the large coupe SUV segment against established rival BMW and its X6 as well as the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe newcomer.

The concept follows a number of teaser images and concept vehicles that carry the common recurring theme of Audi’s e-tron electrified powertrains including the e-tron Quattro concept at Frankfurt in 2015.

While the most recent vehicle has usurped the e-tron name in favour of a simple Q8 moniker, the vehicle is clearly part of the family with a plug-in powertrain that combines a 3.0-litre TFSI engine with an electric motor, and is the most likely drivetrain candidate for a production version.

Quite how much of the concept will carry over to the production Q8 in 2018 remains to be seen but the model will be “based” on the showcar and its vital statistics appear to be more production plausible than flight of fancy.

A TFSI petrol engine output of 245kW and 500Nm is combined with the single electric motor for a total system output of 330kW and 700Nm. Zero to 100km/h acceleration takes 5.4 seconds and a top speed of 250km/h is most likely limited.

Audi reports that the concept can travel up to 60km on pure electric power thanks to a 17.9kWh lithium-ion battery located in the rear of the car, and when under hybrid power, can return fuel economy of 2.3 litres per 100km.

With petrol engine and electric motor working in unison, the Q8 has a total range of about 1000km and its battery can be charged in about 2.5 hours, although Audi does not state whether that rate requires specialised charging equipment or a household socket.

Final drive is handled by the company’s Quattro four-wheel drive system but with permanent engagement it is clear that the Q8 is not the model that will herald Audi’s first e-tron Quattro Ultra application.

In November 2016, Audi told GoAuto that its part-time Quattro Ultra system was in line for electrification but the Q8 will stick to a similar system as the Q7 large SUV, which has a more traditional Quattro layout.

Its electric motor is combined into the eight-speed automatic transmission which communicates with the ‘predictive efficiency assistant’ to provide the most efficient use of electric and combustion power. The system is one feature that Audi has confirmed will be making into the production Q8.

Information from the car’s surroundings including gradient, weather conditions and a selected navigation route are fed through the hybrid management system for maximum efficiency or driver involvement depending which driving mode out of EV, hybrid or battery hold is selected.

The EV setting prioritises pure-electric power, hybrid mode balances the best combination of electric and petrol power, while the battery hold function runs on combustion-only power to reserve battery power for later in a journey such as heavy traffic where electric drive is more useful.

The concept also premieres the latest version of Audi’s game-changing 12.3-inch virtual cockpit instrument cluster, which has been given a resolution boost to 1920 by 720 pixels and has more updated functions including 3D effect gauges when in Performance mode and more detailed display.

In addition to the improved instrument display, Q8 drivers are also treated to an evolution of the company’s head-up display, which makes the first steps into augmented reality.

Instead of a basic arrow graphic for navigation, the augmented system can project the pointer as if it is actually part of the road markings, for example, for a more immersive experience.

All other displays in the Q8 cabin are touchscreen including the central MMI monitor mounted in the dashboard as well as the climate control panel, which only displays the zoned temperature settings for the passenger if the car senses one aboard. A third screen controls lighting settings.

The interior is an expanse of clean lines, simple interconnected displays contrasted by ‘silver’ Nappa leather and Nubuck.

It is not known how much of the Q8 concept’s Bombay Blue body will transition through to the road car, but a more sporty aesthetic compared with the Q7 is expected in the same manner that BMW and Mercedes differentiate their equivalent offerings.

Conspicuous 23-inch wheels may be scaled down for a road-going version and some artistic licence may be wound back before the production car is seen, but the Q8’s sporty styling appears to be ready to hit the shelves.

Carbon-fibre use is rife including interior, exterior and even carbon-ceramic brakes but such exotic items are expected to be relegated to the options list if they make it into showrooms.

Despite the rearward falling roofline, Audi says the Q8 offers generous room for four passengers with a boot area that can swallow 630 litres of luggage. A view of the second-row seating is not offered so it is not yet clear if the Q8 will accommodate two rear passengers in comfort or a more practical two-plus-one arrangement.

On the outside, the Q8 concept is unlikely to change dramatically in dimensions when it rolls out as an on-sale Q8, with a sizable 5020mm length, 2040mm width and 1700mm height in concept form.

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1st of January 1970

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