Audi has released teaser sketches of the range-topping Q8 it will unveil at the Detroit motor show early next month – and the carmaker’s CEO Rupert Stadler has high hopes for it.
Stadler told reporters in Europe: “The way the market is going, we see the Q8 sitting alongside the A8 as our two luxury flagships.”
Select European motoring publications were given a sneak preview of the Q8 at Audi’s headquarters in Germany. They report that it’s built on the same platform as the current Q7, shares the same wheelbase, but has a markedly different look.
The rear overhang is shorter than the Q7 and the car sits 70mm lower. There are four seats, unlike the seven in the Q7. It has a lower roofline, but doesn’t swoop coupe-like at the rear like the BMW X6 and Mercedes-Benz GLE.
Audi design chief Marc Lichte told reporters he avoided the temptation to give the Q8 such a rear end. “We started the roof lower at the front and made it longer to make sure you get good headroom in the back,” he said. “Then we added a fast C-pillar to really show off the car’s progressive sportiness.”
Lichte said the important aspect of the Q8 prototype was that it offered a spacious interior with “four equally comfortable seats, even with the flat roofline.”
The SUV will be previewed by an ‘e-tron’ concept at Detroit, showcasing the design direction for a production model in 2018. CEO Stadler might have in mind the Q8 and A8 as the premier Audis, but each will have its own identity.
‘Q’ models will get octagonal grilles and ‘A’ models hexagonal grilles. The Q8 in this sketch gets the most dominant octagonal grille of the lot, with its bold vertical strakes. The whole front end is particularly bold and aggressive.
The Q8 will get Audi’s latest autonomous driving technology and powertrains. Electric turbocharged engines similar to that which recently appeared in the SQ7 will be offered, along with full plug-in hybrid options.
The car itself echoes elements of the Audi Ur-Quattro model from the 1980s, including the wide, flat C-pillars and prominent shoulders above the wheels.
“With the Q8 concept, we have created a new spearhead within our Q model line,” said Lichte. “Its design strongly evokes sportiness and prestige.”