Audi Q8 brings sportier styling to the luxury SUV class
The striking new SUV is wider, shorter and lower than the Q7 on which it is based.
Jake HolmesReviews Editor
While studying traditional news journalism in college, Jake realized he was smitten by all things automotive and wound up with an internship at Car and Driver. That led to a career writing news, review and feature stories about all things automotive at Automobile Magazine, most recently at Motor1. When he's not driving, fixing or talking about cars, he's most often found on a bicycle.
Audi has finally revealed its latest introduction to the luxury SUV class, the Q8. Positioned as a more style-focused, luxurious sibling to the Q7, the Q8 is claimed to combine "the elegance of a four-door luxury coupe with the practical versatility of a large SUV."
Unsurprisingly, the production model looks a lot like the Q8 Concept we saw at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show. Compared to the Q7, the Audi Q8 is wider (by 0.9 inch), lower (by 1.2), and shorter in length (by 3.1 inches). That gives it much sportier proportions, especially with the shallow-angle rear window that's formed by the fat C-pillar.
Up front is a highly stylized version of Audi's Singleframe grille, with enormous air inlets in the lower fascia, abundant matte-finished trim around the grille itself and standard LED headlights. The fenders are large enough to accommodate wheels up to 22 inches in diameter, while brushed metal-look trim is used for the lower door rub strips, roof rails and window surrounds.
It's around back where the Audi Q8 makes its strongest style statement, with a Lamborghini Urus-like pointed liftgate. An LED light strip connects the taillights, with a black strip running below it meant to evoke the look of the Audi Quattro, and the lower fascia has a skid plate between its large exhaust tips.
The interior concept carries over from new cars like the Audi A8, with twin touchscreens used to operate all car functions. The 10.1-inch upper display is the primary interface for the MMI Navigation Plus infotainment system, while the lower 8.6-inch screen is used for manipulating the climate control, writing letters and numbers and other secondary controls. Ahead of the driver is Audi's now de-rigeur 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit full-color instrument cluster.
The two-row Q8 seats three passengers in the rear and boasts comfort options like massaging seats, four-zone climate control and a Bang & Olfusen sound system. Audi says cargo room with the back seats folded down is 62 cubic feet. Technologies include Audi Connect Key, which lets Android users unlock and drive their Q8 with their smartphone, as well as a Wi-Fi hotspot, 360-degree cameras and other active safety technologies. From 2019, Audi even plans to offer the Q8 with Remote Garage Pilot, which will let the driver guide the SUV in and out of parking space via their smartphone. Like Traffic Jam Pilot on the A8, it remains to be seen whether that feature will come to the US market.
Though Audi hasn't detailed engine choices yet, every powertrain will use a 48-volt mild-hybrid powertrain. In addition to providing extra torque under acceleration, the system allows the Q8 to coast with its engine off for short distances and allows the stop-start function to shut the engine off at speeds up to 13.7 miles per hour. Similar mild-hybrid tech is also used in the new A6, A7, and A8. All-wheel drive is standard, with a 40:60 front-rear torque split, as is adaptive suspension. Optional air suspension adjusts ride height by as much as 3.5 inches, helping provide 10.0 inches of ground clearance. Rear-wheel steering is also on the options list.
The Audi Q8 will serve as the pinnacle of the company's SUV range, and its design is said to inform future members of the Q family. It will launch in Europe toward the end of this year and should follow in the US market next year.