It’s due to be previewed in concept form on January 9 at the 2017 Detroit auto show but Audi’s planned Q8 has already been spied testing.
The Q8 is a new range-topping SUV due on the market in 2019. This means we should see it initially list as a 2020 model.
According to our photographer, the prototype is similar in size to the Q7, ruling out the possibility that we might be looking at the smaller e-tron electric SUV. The Q8 being similar in size to the Q7 also makes sense as the duo shares an identical version of the Volkswagen Group’s MLB platform designed for front-wheel-drive vehicles with longitudinally-mounted engines.
As the concept teasers and these latest spy shots confirm, the Q8’s coupe-like stance lends it a sporty profile. This is aided by a slightly wider track compared to the Q7. Key rivals will be the BMW X6, Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe and Land Rover Range Rover Sport.
Teaser for Audi Q8 concept debuting at 2017 Detroit auto showEnlarge Photo
The spy shots also reveal a more pronounced grille compared to what's found on other Audi SUVs. The headlights also feature the teardrop motif first seen on the current A4 sedan. Still, we have to wonder if the design is distinct enough to stand out in the growing crowd of luxury SUVs.
The base powertrain in the United States is expected to be a turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 delivering 354 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. It will be paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. Above this will be an e-tron plug-in hybrid model, likely pairing a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 with an electric motor for a combined output of 367 hp and 516 lb-ft. Such a setup already features in a Q7 e-tron sold outside the U.S.
More potent offerings should include SQ8 and perhaps even RS Q8 models. The former will likely come in diesel flavor, though not in the U.S. Recall, Audi already has an SQ7 TDI powered by an electric compressor-equipped twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 diesel good for 429 hp and a massive 663 lb-ft. Should an RS Q8 be launched, it will likely come with a version of the twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 found in the Porsche Panamera Turbo. In the Porsche, the engine delivers up to 550 hp and 567 lb-ft.
Stay tuned for updates as development continues.