Q8 con­cept gives in­sight into Audi’s de­sign fu­ture

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - DE­NIS DROPPA

AF­TER be­ing crit­i­cised for the de­sign sim­i­lar­ity of its dif­fer­ent ranges, Audi’s looked to its Ur-Quat­tro past to in­spire the in-your-face styling of its lat­est con­cept car.

Un­veiled at this week’s Detroit mo­tor show, the near pro­duc­tion-ready Q8 will take on the BMW X6 and Mercedes GLE Coupé in the coupé-SUV league when it hits the mar­ket in 2018.

Like its ri­vals, the Q8 com­bines the roomi­ness of a full-size SUV with the emo­tional styling of a coupé. At the same time the con­cept of­fers a pre­view of the brand’s fu­ture styling direc­tion, and let’s hope the show car’s bold lines don’t get dumbed-down into a more be­nign-look­ing de­sign when pro­duc­tion starts.

The big SUV, which is about the same size as the Q7 it shares a plat­form with, boasts one of the most ag­gres­sive front ends yet seen on a car bear­ing the four rings. The oc­tag­o­nal sin­gle­frame grille (not hexag­o­nal like other Audis) is con­sid­er­ably wider than the brand’s cur­rent pro­duc­tion mod­els and is po­si­tioned well for­ward with three-di­men­sional sculpt­ing.

Many styling el­e­ments are rem­i­nis­cent of Audi’s orig­i­nal Ur-Quat­tro from the 1980s, in­clud­ing the very flat and wide C pil­lars and the pow­er­fully flared shoul­ders over the wheels.

De­spite the flat roofline, the show car of­fers plenty of room for four peo­ple as well as lots of lug­gage.

The ele­gantly sporty in­te­rior com­bines large touch­screens with an Audi vir­tual cock­pit, along with a new aug­mented re­al­ity head-up dis­play that merges vir­tual in­di­ca­tors with the real world (for ex­am­ple, in the driver’s field of view a nav­i­ga­tion ar­row will ap­pear in the same po­si­tion as an ac­tual ar­row on the street).

The con­cept is a plug-in hy­brid with to­tal out­puts of 330kW and 700Nm from its petrol-electric pow­er­train, which is good for a claimed 5.4 sec­ond 0-100km/h sprint. The grunt is de­liv­ered via quat­tro per­ma­nent all-wheel-drive, it glides along on air sus­pen­sion, and ce­ramic brake discs pro­vide the stop­ping power.

Oc­tag­o­nal grille breaks away from Audi’s tra­di­tional hexag­o­nal nose. Many styling el­e­ments are rem­i­nis­cent of the orig­i­nal Ur-Quat­tro from the 1980s.

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