Another day, another blend of genres and this time it’s Audi joining the group of the interesting-yet-pointless coupe-slash-SUV segment alongside BMW and Mercedes-Benz. This is the all-new, final-spec Audi Q8.
Usually, the manufacturers claim that these kinds of crossovers bring together the best of both worlds. A claim that we usually don’t agree with, but it seems there is a consumer interest in such cars, one that allows the manufacturers to charge a premium for something that is not as nice to drive as a conventional coupe nor as good off-tarmac as a proper SUV. Audi is aiming to change that with the Q8, stating that it “combines the elegances of a four-door luxury coupe and the convenient versatility of an SUV”.
Like it’s German counterparts, Audi too is building these new models on platforms shared with one of its conventional family SUVs. In this case, that’d be the top-of-the-line Q7 but the new Q8 is shorter by 66mm (five spacious seats only unlike the Q7’s seven) and wider by 27mm for a more aggressive stance with 254mm of max ground clearance. The new ‘singleframe’ grille that covers almost the entirety of the front end flanked by the large air intakes adds to that tough, muscular look. Also, this new, massive hexagonal grille is a look that is expected to embrace the rest of the ‘Q’ models soon enough. Around the back though, things are relatively conventional with the rear-end not as steeply raked as the BMW X6 or Merc GLE or even the Q8 Sport concept that previewed this car in 2017. As a result, the Q8 offers 605 litres of boot space with the rear seats up or 1,755 litres when they’re folded down. That’s on par with its couple-slash-SUV rivals but way behind the larger Q7. The rear design does feature the LED strip connecting the two taillights like the new Audi A8 that runs across the boot of the car. With some of the practical and practically insignificant details of such a car out of the way, let’s get into what does matter in this segment – engines.
At the time of launch, Audi will be offering the Q8 with their 3.0-litre V6 MHEV diesel engine that makes 282bhp and 600Nm of twist. The MHEV diesel unit is paired to Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system, rear-biased, through an 8-speed automatic gearbox which is good enough for a 0-100kph time of 6.2 seconds and this 50 TDI badged variant will max out at 232kph. That hybrid system uses a lithium-ion battery and belt-alternator starter to allow the engine to coast between 55kph and 160kph to boost fuel economy.
The Q8 50 TDI will be followed by a less powerful 45 TDI variant and a 3.0-litre petrol 55 TFSI variant in Europe. Further top-line variants with S or even RS badging are expected in the not too distant future. However, the car being launched in Europe this Summer will have feature adaptively damped steel springs as standard but one can opt up for air suspension and four-wheel steering too. It’s a modern Audi so it is packed to the brim with safety and driver-assist technology as well, offered in a total of four packages — Tour, Park plus, Trailer and Night Vision.
Once inside, the all-new Q8 has much in common with the newest versions of its conventional Audi siblings, especially the tech. There are two touchscreens – 10.1in and 8.6in – as well as the 12.3in Virtual Cockpit instrument cluster behind the wheel. The bigger top one is to interact with the infotainment system while the one further down the console is used to control the air conditioning and can also be used as a trackpad to input information like addresses for the satnav.
What do you think of the new Audi Q8? Would you pick this over a BMW X6? Share your thoughts in the comments below the gallery and subscribe to The Auto Loons for more news from the car world and updates from Formula One and Formula E.