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Detroit show: Audi readies flagship Q8 e-tron

e-tron legacy: Audi’s upcoming Q8 e-tron SUV will likely build on the electric hybrid powertrain and technologies found in the A3 Sportback e-tron small car.

Top-of-the-range Audi SUV to be revealed at Detroit with the Q8 e-tron crossover

23 Dec 2016

AUDI is set to unveil its range-topping Q8 SUV at next month’s North American International Auto Show with coupe-like styling and an electrified e-tron powertrain.

While the two sketch images released reveal little about the flagship crossover’ s proportions, the Q8 will likely be based on the Q7 SUV and Audi is touting the “near-production” concept will represent “a synthesis of the emotional styling of a coupe” in the “full-size category”.

This puts the yet-to-be-revealed large SUV directly in competition with the two other German coupe-like crossovers, the BMW X6 and the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe.

From what Audi is teasing, the front end image reveals a wide and prominent front octagonal grille with dual vertical slats, slender headlights, large air intakes, and subtle e-tron badging on the lower front splitter.

The second image shows the SUV’s side profile, with its subtly sloped roofline, beefed-up wings and wheel arches, wraparound tail-lights and thick C-pillars, invoking the spirit of the original Ur Quattro rally champion of the 1980s.

Although the Q8 will likely share the same powertrain options as the Q7, the show car will utilise a new plug-in hybrid electric system similar to its smaller A3 Sportback e-tron cousin.

In the A3, the 8.8kWh battery can deliver a driving range of about 50km before needing a recharge but with the larger proportions of the Q8, expect battery size and driving range to increase.

Audi head of design Marc Lichte said the new Q8 will be the pinnacle of Audi’s SUV offerings.

“With the Audi Q8 concept, we have created a new spearhead within our Q model line,” he said. “Its design strongly evokes sportiness and prestige.

“What’s more, we believe an important aspect of this showcar is that it offers a spacious interior with four equally comfortable seats, even with the flat roof line.” Although the Q8 is not expected to be a volume sales driver for Audi, it will likely steal some customers away from its German rivals.

Sales for the BMW X6 in 2016 have reached 562 with only one month to go in the year, while the Mercedes-Benz has found 767 homes for its GLE Coupe in the same period.

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