You may not think that the world needs another large £80,000 SUV with sporty aspirations, but Audi certainly does.
The German carmaker today took the wraps off its new flagship Q8 sports utility vehicle at its global launch in China.
And instead of being bigger than the already super-sized Q7, as the model numbering might suggest, this is Audi’s answer to the growing number of top-end ‘sporty’ off-roaders, including Britain’s Range Rover Sport, BMW’s X6, Mercedes-Benz’s GLE Coupe and the Maserati Levante.
Audi’s new sleek SUV: The Audi Q8 will become the German brand’s range-topping 4X4 when it goes on sale in the UK in July
The almost five metre long and two metre wide Q8, which will cost between £65,000 and £80,000, has been styled for a more coupe-like aerodynamic look – designed to appear much lower than its smaller Q7 sibling.
But while it is 66mm shorter it is also 27mm wider with a wheelbase stretching to nearly 3 metres, allowing for more space inside. Frameless doors add to the hoped-for streamlined look.
It aims to bring the luxury of its flagship A8 limousine – seen at glitzy and glamorous red-carpet events from the Oscars to the Baftas and Olivier awards – into the SUV sector.
The large 4X4 will reach UK shores in July packed with hi-tech kit and a luxury interior.
Although built in the German-car-maker’s Bratislava plant, Audi’s chairman Rupert Stadler launched the car in China – in the rapidly expanding city of Shenzhen just a short hop from the former British territory of Hong Kong – because it is one of the world’s fastest growing markets for selling and building luxury vehicles.
He also hosted a major Audi China Brand Summit.
Audi believes the new Q8 lives up to the spirit of Audi’s longstanding slogan of ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ – a leap forward or advance through technology – which began with the launch of the original four-wheel drive Audi Quattro in the 1980s.
Created with a more coupe-like aerodynamic look, the new Q8 has been designed to appear much lower than its smaller Q7 sibling
Frameless doors add to the hoped-for streamlined effect that has been popular among SUV makers in recent years
Rivals: The Range Rover Sport (left) and BMW X6 (right) are two coupe-styled competitors
Other alternatives include the Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class (left) and Maserati Levante (right)
The launch car for the UK will be the six-cylinder 50 TDI in S-Line trim powered by a 3.0-litre diesel engine, linked to a mild hybrid, developing 286 horse-power, that can sprint from rest to 62mph in 6.3 seconds up to a top speed where permitted – such as German Autobahns – of 144mph.
This includes high definition LED lights, 21 inch alloy wheels, and adaptive sport suspension as standard.
It will be followed later by a fully-loaded Vorsprung edition with 22-inch alloy wheels, head-up display, and a full Valcona leather package as standard, plus a Bang & Olufsen Premium Sound System.
Audi said it had wanted to remain faithful to the styling of the original Q8 Sport concept model first shown at the 2017 Geneva motor Show.
Launch car for the UK will be this six-cylinder 50 TDI in S-Line trim
It is powered by a 3.0-litre diesel engine, linked to a mild hybrid, developing 286 horse-power
It can sprint from rest to 62mph in 6.3 seconds up to a top speed where permitted – such as German Autobahns – of 144mph.
It said it was positioning the Q8 as ’the fusion of an elegant four-door luxury coupe with a large SUV, with echoes of an Audi icon – the original Quattro.’
It also claims to have won the space-race against its rivals.
The 60-litre rear luggage compartment, which Audi says is big enough for two golf-bags laid diagonally, increases to 1,755 litres with rear seats folded.
A power-operated tail-gate adds to the practicality.
The new Q8 also heralds a tweak to the face of Audi’s SUV family with a bold and aggressive-looking octagonal grille.
Each of the bright high-definition matrix LED headlights consists of 24 individual LED lights.
The Q8 boasts a 60-litre rear luggage compartment, which Audi says is big enough for two golf-bags laid diagonally, increases to 1,755 litres with rear seats folded
A smaller 3.0-litre diesel with 231 horse-power (Q8 45 TDI) and a 3.0-litre petrol-engined SUV developing 340 horse-power (Q8 55 TFSI) are to follow early next year
The mild hybrid system fitted to the 3.0-litre TDI diesel integrates a rechargeable lithium battery underneath the luggage compartment floor, linked to a belt alternator starter and a 48-volt electrical system.
The regenerative braking system can recover power during deceleration.
The SUV can coast on electrical power with the engine switched off at speeds between 34mph and 99mph, before the hybrid system restarts the engine.
A smaller 3.0-litre diesel with 231 horse-power (Q8 45 TDI) and a 3.0-litre petrol-engined SUV developing 340 horse-power (Q8 55 TFSI) are to follow early next year.
Although fuel consumption has yet to be confirmed, expect around 40 miles to the gallon.
One key option (which will be standard on the higher-spec Vorsprung specification) is the all-wheel steering, which can also turn the rear wheels by up to five degrees for greater manoeuvrability.
Audi said: ’At slow speed they steer in the opposite direction to the front wheels, reducing he turning circle of the SUV by a good metre.
‘At high speed, they steer in the same direction as the front axle, supporting stability during lane changes.’
The adaptive air sport suspension has four setting s which can vary ride height by up to 90mm to improve handling over different surfaces and terrains.
The interior of the new Q8 seeks to be quite minimalist with two high-resolution touchscreens taking over most of the functions
Audi designers said the incorporation of the technology into the touchscreen systems means the dashboard needs almost no buttons or knobs
Rear leg room dimensions are yet to be published, but it looks roomy enough for adult passengers
Audi Q8: Will it fit in my garage?
Model: Audi Q8 S-Line
On sale: from July
Price: from £65,000 (range to to £80,000-plus)
Gears: 8-speed tiptronic automatic
Drive: Quattro all-wheel drive
Engine: 3.0 litre 50 TDI Quattro (286 horse-power) with mild electric hybrid system.
Ground clearance: Up to 254mm
Top speed: 144mph
Acceleration 0-62mph: 6.3 seconds
Wheels: 21-inch (22 inch on Vorsprung models)
Luggage compartment: 60 litres. Increases to 1,755 litres with rear sears folded.
The interior of the new Q8 seeks to be quite minimalist with two high-resolution touchscreens taking over most of the functions.
Audi says it needs ‘almost no buttons or knobs.’
The upper 10.1-inch display controls the infotainment and navigation.
The lower 8.6 inch display allows the driver to manage heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and other ‘comfort’ functions.
Voice-control can understand sentences such as ‘I am hungry’ and offer suggestions for nearby restaurants.
There are also a host of safety systems and packages to help the driver.
A ‘Tour Assist’ package helps keep the car in lane, keep a safe distance from other cars, adjust to the prevailing speed limit, and reduce stress in traffic jams.
Audi said: ’It automatically adjusts to the current speed limit, reduces the speed before corners, during turning and on roundabouts.’
It detects whether the driver is inactive – whether through illness or falling asleep – and gives a series of visual, acoustic and physical warnings
’If this does not prompt a reaction, the system takes control of the Audi Q8 and automatically stops it in its own lane,’ the German car giant said.
It also triggers an emergency call.
Sales books for the range-topping SUV open next month.
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