Audi in new ter­ri­tory with coupe-like SUV

FU­TURE MOD­ELS/ Forth­com­ing Q8 is the man­u­fac­turer’s first stab at the sur­pris­ingly pop­u­lar niche mar­ket genre, writes Ler­ato Matebese

Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS -

One can ar­gue that it was a case of when rather than Audi would fol­low BMW’s X6 with its Q8, which will ar­rive in SA to­wards the end of fourth quar­ter of 2018.

Un­veiled first at the 2017 Detroit mo­tor show un­der the guise of the Audi Q8 Sport Con­cept, it is in­trigu­ing to note that the model has been un­veiled in China in pro­duc­tion garb bear­ing the same de­sign el­e­ments as that con­cept.

The model is new ter­ri­tory for Audi as it will con­tend with the Mercedes-Benz GLE coupe and the Range Rover Sport in this rather odd­ball but sur­pris­ingly pop­u­lar niche mar­ket.

The Q8 will be built on the MLB Evo plat­form that un­der­pins the Q7, Bent­ley Ben­tayga, Porsche Cayenne and the Lam­borgh­ini Urus, the lat­ter shar­ing an un­can­nily sim­i­lar rear.

Un­like any other Audi that has gone be­fore it, this model takes on a de­sign lan­guage that will take some get­ting used to. It fea­tures a prom­i­nent 3D grille, large air in­takes and a wide stance, with the 22-inch al­loys giv­ing it a stocky pose. Mov­ing to the rear, the lights that span the width of the car are sim­i­lar to those of its A7 and A8 sib­lings and will be a spec­ta­cle to watch.

Di­men­sion­ally, the model is said to be 130mm longer than the Range Rover Sport and 100mm lower and 10mm wider. Its wheel­base is 70mm longer, while boot space is 650l in stan­dard guise and 1,755l with the rear seats folded.

In com­par­i­son, the Q7, with which it shares a plat­form, has a boot space of 770l and 1,995l. Mind you, the Q7 is a full-on seven-seater, so the Q8 as a five-seater ve­hi­cle is not short on util­ity space.

The cabin lay­out is sim­i­lar to the A7 with its dual touch­screen with the top one con­trol­ling the in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem, while the bot­tom one is for ad­just­ing if cli­mate con­trols.

At this point, lo­cal en­gines have not been con­firmed by Audi SA, but we can ex­pect a range of diesel and petrol V6 pow­er­plants in dif­fer­ent states of tune to fit un­der the com­pany’s new nam­ing con­ven­tion, in this in­stance 250kW 3.0l V6 petrol de­not­ing the 55TSI and a 210kW 3.0l V6 tur­bod­iesel be­ing the 50TDI vari­ant.

These are the mod­els that will be in­tro­duced in in­ter­na­tional mar­kets such as the UK, so are likely to be des­tined for our shores too.

While there is no talk of an SQ8 with the 4.0l twin-turbo V8 en­gine from the SQ7, con­sid­er­ing the sporty mar­ket that the model is pitched at, I have lit­tle doubt that a petrol pro­pelled RSQ8 (with 485kW) will come along as the flag­ship model to take on the likes of the BMW X6M and Range Rover Sport SVR. There will also likely be a duo of less pow­er­ful 3.0l V6 diesel and petrol en­gines of­fered at a later stage once the ini­tial hype has abated. Trans­mis­sions will come in the form of a seven-speed dual-clutch S-tronic unit for the diesel, while the petrol will be equipped with a con­ven­tional eight-speed torque con­verter au­to­matic.

All mod­els are said to use 48V elec­tri­cal tech­nol­ogy, which also sig­nals the pos­si­bil­ity of a hy­brid-pow­ered ver­sion at some point in the model’s life cy­cle, which means it will be an even more pop­u­lar propo­si­tion for big hy­brid mar­kets such as the US and China.

Boast­ing plenty of aluminium com­po­nents used on the fivelink front and rear sus­pen­sion, the model will more than likely be more agile and dy­namic than its Q7 sib­ling, while this will also re­duce the over­all un­sprung mass of the car al­though no of­fi­cial weight fig­ures of the car have yet been di­vulged.

A host of au­ton­o­mous driv­ing modes, like in the A7 and A8, will be of­fered in the Q8 in vary­ing lev­els. This could ar­guably be the first model in the seg­ment to bring this com­pre­hen­sive level of the tech­nol­ogy to mar­ket, but whether SA-bound mod­els will have the full suite or a spe­cific level due to leg­is­la­tion and in­fra­struc­ture re­mains to be seen.

The Audi Q8 sets out to be the most ad­vanced model in its seg­ment but the new X6 and GLE coupe are ex­pected in 2019. Pric­ing should be com­par­a­tive to its ri­vals, which means we can ex­pect a start­ing price north of R1.2m when it ar­rives in SA to­wards the end of 2018.

WITH ALUMINIUM COM­PO­NENTS, THE MODEL WILL MORE THAN LIKELY BE MORE AGILE AND DY­NAMIC THAN ITS Q7 SIB­LING

The Audi Q8 will ar­rive in SA in the fourth quar­ter look­ing close to the orig­i­nal con­cept. Left: The in­te­rior is sim­i­lar to the Q7.

The Q8, as a five-seater ve­hi­cle, is not short on util­ity space. The rear, be­low, fol­lows the de­sign theme of the new A6 and A8 sedan mod­els.

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