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RPM TV Website | July 9, 2020

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No more Mr Nice Guy as Audi unleashes gargantuan Q8

No more Mr Nice Guy as Audi unleashes gargantuan Q8
Deon Schoeman

It may officially be a concept only, but there is no doubt that next year’s Q8 will look very much like the big, muscular machine that Audi unveiled at the Detroit Motor Show. And yes, it proves that Audi has its styling mojo back.

Forget subtle understatement: the 5m long, 1,7, tall Q8 wants to be noticed, thanks to an imposing stance, high waist, a streamlined roof, wide tracks and sculpted flanks. The exterior treatment focuses on distinctly athletic touches, including the deep sills, a pronounced rear diffuser, and an equally bold front splitter.

The single frame grille is the biggest yet, and will probably survive into production, as will the slim headlights, although their digital laser technology is likely to be optional. But the touch-sensor latches for the doors will probably be replaced by more conventional, flush-fitting handles.

The Q8 combines coupé-like aesthetics with the space, size and presence of a full-sized SUV – in this case the Q7, which the Q8 is based on. We already know that the Q7’s underpinnings are exemplary, offering vital rigidity and a comparatively low mass. That suggests  the sportier Q8 will be at least as dynamically talented as those bruiser looks suggest.

The show car is powered by a hybrid drivetrain linking a 3,0-litre TFSI petrol V6 to an electric motor. System output is 330 kW and 700 Nm.

We’d expect the production version to also offer a more prosaic line-up of turbo petrol and turbodiesel engines. An eight-speed Tiptronic gearbox is standard, while air suspension and huge 23-inch wheels promise a smooth ride, plenty of grip, and crisp handling.

Inside, the generous cabin is configured for only four occupants via individual bucket seats front and rear, ensuring stretch-out space, in addition to the 630-litre boot. Luxurious materials are offset by the dashboard’s angular, alloy-trimmed binnacles, while touch screens and Audi’s virtual cockpit instrumentation add further high-tech sparkle.

Expect the actual production model to make its bow this time next year – probably at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show, as Audi will be hoping to woo US buyers, especially in the wake of Dieselgate …

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