Audi Q8 Concept Preview
- Thinly-veiled look at a production 2019 Audi Q8
- Think Bentley Bentayga, but better looking
- Performance-oriented plug-in hybrid drivetrain
- 4-passenger seating and luggage space
- Cabin decked out in premium materials
- Cutting-edge technology
- Production version on sale in 2018
Technically, the Audi Q8 is a concept vehicle, but there is more than a suggestion of production intent to this new SUV. In fact, Audi plainly states that a Q8 will go on sale sometime in 2018, so if you like what you see here, chances are good that you’ll find something similar in showrooms a little more than a year from now.
Audi says the Q8 is a full-size SUV that stands for “maximum prestige.” And yes, the company refers to it as a coupe. (Sigh.)
Appearing bolder than current production Audis, the Q8 Concept’s octagonal grille is wider and features a honeycomb insert with a banded texture. Geometric lower air inlets and digital matrix laser headlamps give the Q8 an aggressive countenance, while aluminum trim and detailing emphasizes a cool, sporty, and serious look. Dynamic LED turn signals are used front and rear.
The Q8’s profile is defined by a squat greenhouse with frameless side windows, side mirrors with multi-faceted edges, deeply sculpted doors, double-arched wheel wells, and aluminum rocker panels with “Quattro” milled into the material below the rear doors. The appealing aluminum wheels are sized 23 inches in diameter, and wear meaty 305/35 tires.
Tapering into a fastback power rear liftgate, the roofline abruptly terminates just aft of the rear doors. Spoilers frame the top and bottom of the rear window glass, which is flanked by flat and wide rear roof pillars. A full-width band of adaptive rear LED lighting provides the Q8 with a tidy but distinctive appearance.
People wishing to enter the Q8 merely need to touch the doors to open them. The SUV accommodates four people with individual seating wrapped in fine-grade Nappa and Nubuk leather. Four large suitcases will fit in the Q8’s 22.2 cubic foot trunk, according to Audi.
Horizontally oriented, the dashboard descends in steps toward the interior and down to a floating panel that hovers between the sport-bolstered front seats to serve as a platform housing the transmission shifter. Controls and displays are contained within a “black panel” touchscreen spanning the dashboard in front of the driver. Black panel trim continues in front of the passenger and into both door panels for a cohesive appearance.
Audi decorates the Q8’s cabin in 3D engineered grain trim, high-gloss carbon, abstract fabric, and brushed aluminum, and employs graduated shades of gray moving from the dark headliner to the light silver leather seats and center console. At night, LED light guides and ambient light softly illuminate the cabin.
Under the Hood:
The Audi Q8 Concept is a plug-in electric hybrid vehicle. It pairs a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine, a 100 kW electric motor, and a 19.9 kWh lithium ion battery to create a total of 443 horsepower and 516 lb.-ft. of torque. An 8-speed automatic transmission feeds the power to the wheels through a torque-vectoring Quattro all-wheel-drive system.
Audi says the Q8 will accelerate to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds and can achieve a top speed of 155 mph. Total electric driving range is 37 miles, but the Q8 can travel well beyond that distance thanks to its turbocharged gasoline engine. The battery recharges in as little as 2.5 hours.
Audi Drive Select is standard, equipping the Q8 with EV, Hybrid, and Battery Hold driving modes. Battery Hold is useful for when the driver wishes to conserve electric vehicle operation for specific driving zones or conditions. An automatic engine stop/start system is also aboard to help maximize efficiency, and a Predictive Efficiency Assistant uses GPS, navigation route information, and Audi Connect Car-to-X communication data to help the driver squeeze as much range from the drivetrain as is possible.
Because the Q8 has sporting pretensions, Audi uses a sport-calibrated adaptive air suspension with adjustable ground clearance and 20-inch ceramic brake discs on its SUV coupe concept vehicle.
With the Q8, Audi plans an expanded version of its impressive Audi Virtual Cockpit instrumentation technology. It provides greater resolution and 3D depiction of maps when using the system to consult navigation. Also, a “Performance” mode provides 3D renditions of the Q8’s speedometer and power meter.
The Q8’s “black panel” touchscreen dashboard displays provide “direct, fast, and intuitive operation,” according to Audi. Using this approach also allows designers to cut down on clutter for a cleaner cabin appearance. Ironically, this means the Multi-Media Interface (MMI) controls are now on the dashboard rather than the center console, which some people might argue is where they ought to have been placed to start with.
Touchscreen climate controls are in the angled portion of the center console, forward of the shifter. Sensors in the front passenger seat automatically illuminate the passenger temperature and climate settings.
Additionally, the Q8 Concept introduces a heads-up display that, as described by Audi, uses “intelligent augmented reality technology that merges the real and the virtual worlds.”
Effectively, it places information directly into the driver’s line of sight, as though they are a part of the outside environment. For example, a navigation arrow indicating a turn ahead seems to appear on the road surface itself, like an actual lane marking. Audi says that notifications from the Q8’s driver assistance systems work the same way.