TMR Team | Jan 10, 2017

Audi has previewed a planned future flagship SUV model with the unveiling of the near-to-production-ready Q8 concept at the 2017 Detroit motor show.

Set to go on sale in Australia in 2018 at a starting price over $110,000, the big new Audi has been conceived to sit above the recently introduced second-generation Q7 as a rival to the likes of the Range Rover Sport, boasting a uniquely styled exterior, luxuriously equipped interior, heady performance potential and, in combination with a new 330kW plug in petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain showcased by the Audi concept, the capability of running exclusively on electricity for a distance of up to 60km.

Drawing on the styling lineage first explored on the smaller all-electric e-tron quattro concept revealed at the 2015 Frankfurt motor show as well as the existing second-generation Q7, the Q8 concept receives a bold appearance credited to Audi design boss, Marc Lichte.

Already previewed in a series of earlier design sketched released by Audi last month, the exterior of the new up-market SUV is dominated by a heavily decorated eight corner single frame grille featuring a wider design than that seen on current Audi models with six vertically stacked louvres that Audi says aims to provide it with added visual height.

The new look grille is bookmarked by distinctive trapezoidal shaped headlamps with Audi's matrix laser technology that is capable of projecting a light beam of up to one million pixels together with an LED function for the day time driving lights and strobe like dynamic blinkers. Also featured are large aluminium bordered air ducts within a heavily structure lower section to the front bumper assembly, which is completed by a prominent splitter element that helps to accentuate the new Audi's width while aiding air flow to the engine bay.

Compared to the existing Q7, the Q8 concept receives a lower and more sloping roofline along with a shallower glasshouse and more heavily angled rear tailgate – all of which helps to provides it with more sporting silhouette than its upright sibling. It also adopts elements from the original Audi quattro from the 1980s, including prominent shoulders above the large wheel houses and a characteristic C-pillar treatment. The wheels are 23-inch in diameter and come shod with generously dimensioned 305/35 profile tyres.

The similarities to the e-tron quattro concept continue at rear, which receives a full width LED light band incorporating the tail lamps within a separate black panel underneath the rear window.

At 5020mm in length, 2040mm in width and 1700mm in height, the Q8 concept is 32mm shorter, 72mm wider and 41mm lower than the second-generation Q7, with which it shares its MLB (Modularen Langs Baukasten – modular longitudinal architecture) platform as well as its high strength steel and aluminium body structure.

Inside, Audi has used the Q8 concept to preview new high-definition display and touch screen monitor technology that is being developed for inclusion on future models.

Power for the new Audi comes from is a newly developed plug in petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain. It uses a turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 direct injection petrol engine developing 245kW and 500Nm of torque in combination with a brushless electric motor sited within the forward section of the gearbox housing with 100kW and 330Nm.

Set to be offered alongside more conventional V6 and V8 petrol and diesel engines on the production version of the Q8, the new hybrid set-up delivers a combined system output of 330kW and 700Nm of torque, with drive chanelled through an eight-speed torque converter equipped automatic gearbox and an electronically controlled quattro four-wheel drive system with torque vectoring control for the individual rear wheels – a combination set to be reflected on the showroom version of the luxurious new Range Rover Sport rivalling SUV, according to Ingolstadt officials.

The Q8 concept offers three different driving modes: EV, Hybrid and Battery Hold. Audi claims 0-100km/h in 5.4sec, an electronically limited 250km/h top speed along with combined cycle fuel consumption on the NEDC cycle of 2.3L/100km for average CO2 emissions of 53g/km in Hybrid mode.

Electrical energy to run the electric motor is stored in a 17.9kWh lithium ion battery with 104 individual cells mounted in the floor of the boot. In EV mode, Audi says the Q8 concept delivers a zero-emission range of up to 60km, with the re-charging time put at 2.5 hours on a fast charging 7.2kW system.

MORE: Audi | Detroit Motor Show

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