The Detroit Auto Show is currently taking place in, yeah you guessed it, Detroit! This annual event is the first auto show of the year and manufacturers are always eager to show off what they have been working on. This year, Audi have delighted us with their new Q8 concept. Combining the spaciousness of an SUV with the emotional lines of a coupe, this is a concept. However, according to Audi we will see a production version come to the market in 2018.
From the front, the Q8 looks very futuristic. The front grill is octagonal and very, very large. Much larger than any production Audis currently available. This aids the aggressive looks and squinting headlights. While on the topic, these are not just any headlights, no, these are blue laser light signature headlights. That just sounds awesome! One of the key design philosophies that Audi are really pushing nowadays is the ‘detailed’ bonnets that we were introduced to on the new A5. Personally I do not find this attractive and feel it creates an overly complicated look from the front.
Moving down the side of the car, you notice that there are no door handles, odd. No, they did not forget about them, they simply aren’t there. Instead, the doors feature touch senors that when detecting hand contact, will open and automatically swing to a defined angle. I doubt this technology will see production. It could be very troublesome in car parks as they might not recognise other cars parked alongside, still, sweet for the concept.
Coming around the the rear, we are caught by the strip of lights extending across the entire width of the car. This widens the look of what is already a very wide car. This strip includes the tail lights, brake lights and indicators. The diffuser is very visible and is made from aluminium. The Q8 is not a particularly tall car, much shorter than the Q7, and the wideness makes the height seem even shorter, which is nice.
Turing to the interior, the dashboard and door cards are designed to wrap around the passengers. The central console and display screens are integrated into what Audi are calling the ‘black panel’. This gloss black trim piece runs the horizontal length of the dashboard and allows the screens to disappear into it when off. All interior lights, naturally, are white LEDs.
All of the seats are individual pieces, including the two rear seats. This is not a seven seater SUV, no, this is a strict four seater. The two rear seats are separated by another centre console with its own display screen giving rear passengers the choice to alter the cabin’s climate and so forth.
Audi are taking their virtual cockpit to a new level in the Q8 by making it bigger than ever at 1920 x 720 pixels. It is 12.3 inches and can display maps, lists, vehicle information as well as the dials of course. Speaking of the maps, when zooming in on the screen, buildings can be displayed in 3D. Thanks to the two touchscreens, there are very few buttons in the cockpit which make it look both clean and neat.
Out of the two screens, the top one, in the ‘black panel’, is home to the infotainment services and the vehicle settings. The bottom, is for climate control. A cool feature is that if there is a passenger detected it will offer controls for the two zones, whereas if the driver is alone, it will only offer one setting. Clever that.
This is a hybrid car, and the Q8 uses a 3.0TFSi producing 333bhp which is mated to an electric motor to give a combined output just shy of 500bhp, and just over 500lb/ft of torque. This means that 100km/h is dealt with in only 5.4 seconds, and it will hit a limited top speed of, yes, 250km/h. Because it is a hybrid, economy matters and the Q8 will burn only 2.3l per 100km. That’s very good.
The Q8 can regenerate energy by itself with aid from the ‘predictive efficiency assistant’ which continuously monitors driving situations and gives highly detailed information the the battery and hybrid systems to be as efficient as possible. The air suspension allows great adjustability in suspension travel to help both the comfort and performance side of the car. The ride height also has two settings, separated by 90mm.
This will be an interesting car to see on the roads, but will it sell well?