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Car and Driver: 2019 Audi Q8 Flagship SUV: What We Know

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2016 Audi Q8 RenderingWe haven’t reported on the Audi Q8 in a while, but our sources in Ingolstadt confirm it is still on track. And while styling is a matter of taste—and keep in mind that the above is merely an informed guess on how it could look—we hear that this uplevel SUV is intended to look so sporty and modern as to put the competition to shame. Not to mention the boxy Q7, which currently tops Audi’s SUV lineup.

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The Q7, of course, is the vehicle to which the new Q8 is most closely related: Both SUVs share their architectural platform, much of their powertrain portfolio, and most likely the cockpit layout and electronics as well. But while other coupe-like SUVs merely add a sportier roofline—think BMW X6 or Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe—the Audi Q8 will be far more differentiated from the Q7, adding contemporary elements such as slim, full-width taillights and an angular, “fast” C-pillar. The front end will be unique, as well, sharing nothing with the headlight-and-grille assembly of the Q7.

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Under the hood, the Q8 will offer an array of cutting-edge powertrain options, all of them mated to a ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic, and all of them sending power to all four wheels. We expect to see an array of diesel and gasoline V-6 and V-8 engines, and there will be an SQ8 with a V-8 TDI and electric turbocharging. Audi could also launch a Q8 e-tron Quattro, powered by a V-6 TDI and an electric motor, with the capability to drive for up to 30 miles on electricity only. Above those models, we expect to see an RS Q8 with a twin-turbocharged V-8 gasoline engine and well over 500 horsepower. Future Audi V-8 gasoline engines will be part of the new VW Group engine family developed under the leadership of Porsche, though mated to different transmissions—a fact that has led to breathless reports overseas of the Q8 being fitted with “Porsche powertrains.”

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The Q8 will sit at the top of Audi’s lineup, a Q-series equivalent to the A8 luxury sedan, but with a far more sporty demeanor. It’ll be a rather unique offering on the market: Sportier than the Mercedes-Benz GLS and the upcoming BMW X7 but larger and roomier than the BMW X6 and the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe, the closest vehicle in spirit (and execution) might be the Bentley Bentayga upper-luxury SUV. And it will compete head-on with the next-gen Porsche Cayenne, with which it shares its Audi-developed MLB Evo modular-longitudinal architecture.

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One of chief designer Marc Lichte’s first projects, and developing in concert with the upcoming A6, A7, and A8, the Q8 is intended to rejuvenate Audi’s brand image and performance credentials in the increasingly fierce market of crossover SUVs. The model has been high on the list of CEO Rupert Stadler’s priorities, and Audi has confirmed it officially several times. We expect to first see the Audi Q8 debut some time next year before going on sale in 2018; expect a premium of $5000 to $10,000 over a similarly equipped Q7 or SQ7.

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