Audi has launched a new top-of-the-range sport utility, the Q8, which will be coming to the US in the fourth quarter of 2018. Details are still somewhat sparse, but the new production model will loosely follow the design guidelines of concepts shown before, including the legendary Audi Ur quattro.
The Ur quattro was a world-renowned rally car from the 1980s that won Audi fame and recognition. It's been the design inspiration (albeit often very loosely) for many an Audi vehicle since, being referred to by the Q8 Sport concept shown in March 2017 in Geneva. That particular concept followed on a plug-in hybrid Q8 concept shown in Detroit that same year – because Volkswagen is electrifying everything.
Now, Audi says that the Q8 will be entering production soon for a market target date of late this year. The new Q8 will top the Audi range of SUVs with a five-seat configuration, advanced technologies, and lots of connectivity. This new production model holds some of the design elements found in the concepts, but dumps a few others in favor of more marketable ideas.
Staying in the new Audi Q8 will be the vertical grille seen on the plug-in concept, which was well-accepted by the viewing public and automotive press – so the mesh grille shown on the Q8 Sport is probably a no-go. This is a good development, as the mesh thing is getting a little overdone in the premium segments. Also staying is the generally large size and physical displacement of the Q8 concepts, which promised a big, almost imposing SUV to take on the often ginormous offerings from the competition in the American market.
Body styling in the production Q8 also appears very similar to the concepts. Key differences are in the upper body lines that are more defined than in the concepts, but the wheel well surround edges from the Sport are intact, and the overall contour and rear hatch curve remain from the plug-in concept. The hood and lower bodywork crease are less simple than what was seen in the concepts, but fits in nicely with the current Audi SUV lineup's overall design language.
The short version of all that: we think the new Audi Q8 looks really good from the outside. Inside? Also really good, though we have some concerns ... our chief being the dual-screen infotainment/climate setup, in which the lower screen looks highly glare-prone with its cant and position. That may not be the case, of course, but the photographs make us wonder. The huge shifter also seems a little out of place in a luxury vehicle like this. Otherwise, we like the look of the new interior for the Q8. Audi hasn't given details on space and cargo room, but we suspect it's pretty good given the Q8's overall apparent size.
Audi does go into some verbage on the new MMI infotainment system it's planning to include. It provides haptic and acoustic feedback to user inputs and "is as intuitive as a smartphone." Take that for what it's worth. We do know that if Audi is building on the current-generation MMI, then it's likely that the new infotainment system's user interface is excellent. We're very interested in the "natural language" voice controls, wherein the driver could simply say "I'm hungry" and have restaurant options given to them.
Audi is otherwise close to the vest with details on the drivetrain, vehicle structure, and so forth. The Q8 will come standard with all-wheel drive ("quattro" in the Audi's German nomenclature that uses Latinate words) with a mechanical center differential that transfers a standard ratio of 40:60 front:rear. Most power (Audi does not say how much) can be transferred fore or aft as required. An adaptive damping suspension, an available adaptive air suspension, and drive select modes will also be on the Q8.
More information about the Audi Q8 will be released as the vehicle approaches market availability later this year.
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