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A touch of history for new Audi Q8

Muscle tone: Audi’s new Q8 is wider and lower than the Q7, adding to the muscular look of the latest luxury SUV.

Audi sports heritage to the fore in new Audi Q8 due in Australia in early 2019


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6 Jun 2018

AUDI designers have gone back to the future by channelling styling cues from the original 1980 Audi Quattro when designing the new Q8 large SUV coupe that has just been revealed in China ahead of roll out in Europe in the third quarter of this year and Australian launch in early 2019.


Sportier-looking than the related Q7, the five-seat all-wheel-drive Q8 has bulging “blisters” above the wheelarches, just like the legendary Quattro coupe that went on to dominate the world rally scene with its breakthrough quattro all-wheel-drive system.


Audi has confirmed that the new-look “singleframe” grille with its protruding octagonal surround and egg-crate slats will become a fixture on future new members of Audi’s Q SUV family.


Design wise, the Q8 is less of a “coupe” design than its major rivals, including the BMW X6 and Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe, with a less extreme slope from the roof peak to the rear hatch.


However, the engineers and designers have gone to considerable trouble to differentiate the Q8 from the Q7, widening the body by 27mm, to 2000mm. The Q8 is also 62mm shorter, at 4990mm, and 27mm lower, at 1710mm.


The result is an SUV that looks more planted on the road, while offering healthy interior space in a shorter package.


However, the shorter rear overhang means that a third row of seats – available on the Q7 – is not possible.


Luggage space takes a hit, down from 770 litres in the Q7 with the rear seats up, to 650 litres. With the seats down, Q8 cargo space is 1755L, compared with the Q7’s 1955L.


Officially, Audi is yet to confirm the powertrain offerings, except to say that they will include a mild-hybrid addition that employs a 48-volt lithium-ion battery and alternator-starter that can feed extra power to the drivetrain to increase efficiency.


Interestingly, this hybrid system will be applied to all engines that, according to Britain’s Autocar, will start with a pair of 3.0-litre V6s – a 210kW 50 TDI diesel and a 250kW 55 TFSI petrol – both with eight-speed automatic transmission.


A mechanical centre differential delivers the drive to all four wheels via Audi’s trademark quattro system, with 60 per cent usually going to the rear wheels.


Ride height is 254mm with the conventional suspension system, but ticking the box for the optional air suspension means this ride height can be adjusted by up to 90mm depending on the driving situation – say, high-speed highway or low-speed off-roading.


Audi has not given wheel sizes for the standard alloys – UK reports suggest 21 inch – but has disclosed that 22-inch rims will be available.


Headlights are LED, although the customer can fork out extra for the more sophisticated matrix variety that automatically control glare for on-coming traffic.


The tail-lights are joined by an LED strip across the rear hatch.


For car owners that get hot over lights, the Q8 driver can fire up different lighting functions by using a phone app while outside the car.


The luxurious interior borrows heavily from other new-generation Audi models, including the latest A8. The all-digital instruments on a high-res 12.3-inch display can be modified to taste and function, including the sat-nav map.


Instead of a console control button, two touchscreens – a 10.1-inch on the dash and an 8.6-inch display lower down – are used to control various functions in similar fashion to the system in the new A8.


The lower screen operates basic functions such as the climate control, while the upper unit controls items such as the Bang & Olufsen sound system and connectivity that includes in-car Wi-Fi. Voice control is standard.


Driver assistance systems include adaptive cruise control and, from 2019, “remote garage pilot” – a system that parks or backs out the vehicle from the garage autonomously when controlled by the MyAudi app on the driver’s phone. It is unclear if this latter function will be offered in Australia where regulations on autonomous functions are yet to be settled.


These driver assistance systems reportedly will be offered in extra-cost packs, such as Tour Assist and Emergency Assist.


Pricing, powertrains, specification levels and other details for the Australian line-up will be revealed closer to launch.

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